During the last few events it has been notable that many fans, pundits and insiders within the kickboxing world have been vocal about the referees and judges at GLORY events. Stefano Valenti has been involved in some high-profile GLORY bouts over the last year, including a few of the fights at the recent GLORY 31.
Three of the fights that he was involved with were the Saenchai vs. Eddy Nait-Slimani bout, Ismael Londt vs. Hesdy Gerges and the main event between GLORY Lightweight Champion Robin van Roosmalen and challenger Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong. I have joined in with the chorus of critics of Valenti and noted in our live coverage of GLORY 31 that whenever Valenti is in the ring there is a fear that something might go wrong.
During the Saenchai bout he deducted a point from Saenchai, which seemed harsh considering the action in the ring, and during Ismael Londt vs. Hesdy Gerges he deducted a point from both fighters in the third round, just seconds away from the final bell. This comes after the notable point deductions from GLORY referee Al Wichers during Artem Levin vs. Simon Marcus which heavily influenced the outcome of the bout. We criticize because while rule enforcement is important, there seems to be a lack of coherence among referees and a very real fear among fans (and fighters) that referees can influence the outcome of their bouts.
Late this week LiverKick received an email from referee Stefano Valenti where he looked to explain his side of the story.
In all organizations and federations for which I have worked, and continue to do so (I think not for luck but I hope for merit), they appreciated me to follow regulations and instructions that are given to me by the leadership of each organization. Glory, Bellator, Victory, Oktagon, Wako, WMF, ISKA, etc.
That you points as conduct "terrible", is the way that Glory wants for all events Glory sanctioned , the result of extensive discussions during the briefing on the day before the event and reported in the special "referee clinic" written by the head and coordinator of the Glory Officials: REFEREE MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY INACTIVE CLINCH ! It's not Muay Thai Clinching!
While I have been and will most likely continue to be critical of referees for their calls, their job is difficult and they are forced to make split-second decisions. What's important, though, is that these decisions can and will be criticized because of how they can impact the careers of fighters. As we've seen, every referee has a different style just like fighters do, and at times those styles are more intrusive than others (Joop Ubeda, for example).
Valenti explains that his calls were justified because they were done in accordance to GLORY's wishes, which is difficult to argue with. It should be noted that it is also the responsibility of fighters and their teams to understand and respect these rules and not place referees in a position to make these calls. It should be noted, though, that GLORY doesn't have a hand in the officiating, instead the ISKA handles that.
LiverKick has reached out to Mr. Valenti for further comment.