The Calgary Combative Sports Commission’s recent decision not to reprimand referee Len Koivisto for his performance during the July 8 MMA fight between Kim Couture and Sheila Bird rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way.
After investigating Koivisto’s performance during the Couture vs. Bird MMA fight, the commission issued a press release stating:
“No further action or investigations into the officiating of Mr. Koivisto will be required by the Commission. He has always taken his ring official’s duties very seriously and conducts himself with a great deal of professionalism.”
The CCSC’s statement came as a surprise to many MMA fans who felt Koivisto failed to perform his duties. After carefully dissecting the video of the MMA fight between Couture and Bird, I have to agree with CCSC’s decision not to reprimand Koivisto for his performance.
While there were clear indications that Couture had lost consciousness during her fight with Bird, MMA referees have to keep their eyes on a number of things. While most MMA fans watching the video noticed Couture’s legs going limp as the leg scissor choke was being applied, it’s worth nothing that Koivisto’s eyes were focused on Couture’s face and not her legs.
My only criticism of Koivisto is the fact he even bothered to see if Couture’s arms were limp when the blank stare in her eyes clearly said she was out. Still, Koivisto stopped the fight about five seconds from the point Couture was clearly out.
It’s shocking so many MMA fans feel Koivisto performance warrants a termination from the sport. In reality, Couture was never in any serious trouble as it usually takes a few minutes for chokes to cause any serious damage. Koivisto has room for improvement as a referee, but the backlash he has received has been misguided.
Besides, like in all other MMA fights Couture had the option of tapping out.