Steve Mazzagatti is a licensed MMA referee and firefighter in Nevada. He has trained in martial arts for over 30 years. He has experience with Hung Gar, Choy Lay Fut, Wing Chun, Gung Fu, Wrestling, Muay Thai, and Boxing. Mazzagatti trained Muay Thai fighters until 1993 when he became a licensed referee.
He refereed Muay Thai, K-1, and Boxing until 2002 when he began refereeing Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). His first MMA fight that he refereed was Frank Trigg vs. LaVerne Clark with the WFA. Mazzagatti’s first fight with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took place at UFC 43: Meltdown.
Steve Mazzagatti has had quite a bit of controversy behind his refereeing. UFC President Dana White has had a few choice words on the subject as well.
- "Mazzagatti, as a referee?" White said. "This f**king guy shouldn't even be watching MMA on TV, let alone refereeing it. I think he's the worst ref in the history of any fight business, ever. He's horrible. We don't pick the refs. The athletic commission does. Those guys are picked by the government. It's not that I don't like him, he's a nice guy. He's an absolute nice guy, he has no business whatsoever being anywhere near mixed martial arts."
- On February 2, 2009 at UFC 81: Breaking Point, Mazzagatti was refereeing the bout between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. Lesnar ripped Mazzagatti for standing up the fight after he hit Mir in the back of the head, and for failing to stop the fight quickly when he tapped out. Dana White said Lesnar was right to be upset.
- On July 29, 2008 at UFC Fight Night 14: Silva vs. Irvin, when Anthony Johnson was repeatedly poked in the eye by Kevin Burns, to the point where Johnson could no longer continue fighting, Mazzagatti stopped the fight, giving Burns the TKO victory.
- Calling a "time-out" during the Rob McCullough vs. Jamie Varner WEC Lightweight title fight in order to get Varner's mouth piece back in, allowing him to recover.