(“Gentlemen, I want a good, clean fight. Listen to my commands at all times, protect yourself at all…I’m sorry, did one of you just shit your pants?” Photo via Esporte.)
We hate to keep beating this dead horse*, but the judging over the past couple UFC events has been particularly egregious. While UFC 156 merely suffered from a puzzling split decision or two and a main event that just barely escaped the controversy we predicted it would end in, last weekend’s UFC on FUEL 7 event was a veritable smorgasbord of fatuousness. Thanks in no small to the efforts of judge Aaron Chatfield — who both scored the Che Mills/Matt Riddle fight 29-28 for Mills and gave Paul Sass the first round against Danny Castillo — MMA judging has once again found itself at the center of controversy. That controversy being: Who the hell are these people and how did they waltz into these jobs?
It’s an answer that seems to allude even Big John McCarthy, the all-seeing, all knowing eye of MMA refereeing, who has been forced called out these blind, ignant sons of bitches for being such blind, ignant sons of bitches. Via MMAFighting:
When it comes to the judging, the biggest thing is, judging by nature is subjective. You look at a fight and you have a guy that throws a bunch of punches. One judge — we’ll say [it's] you — is looking at it, and you’re giving him credit, saying, ‘Wow, he’s really active.’ While I’m looking at it saying, ‘He’s not connecting.’
When you’re looking at the UFC, there’s not a whole lot of excuses. You’ve got a monitor in front of you, so [even] when you can’t see, [you can still see]. That monitor gives them the ability to see a fight from a variety of angles, not just from the one they’re sitting at. And so there’s not a lot of excuses to say, ‘Well, I didn’t see that,’ when it comes to the UFC.
Look, we’ve been down this road before. We’ve offered advice on alternate scoring methods, we’ve heard what the pros have to say about it. And if the past few events — or the words of UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, who responded to the controversy by declaring that “some stuff” is being worked out internally — are any indication, then nothing short of a fixed fight is going to change the criteria upon which an MMA judge is decided, let alone be improved upon. Fighter-turned-judge Ricardo Almeida once suggested that each and every athletic commission member should be subjected to an educational “summit” each year in order to bring a more technical understanding of the sport to those supposedly fit to judge/reside over it, and that idea has caught on about as fast as that of a fighter’s union. And for the time being, it seems like things are going to stay that way.
But if there is one group of people involved in MMA that should not only be constantly evolving with the sport but actively seeking to evolve, it’s the referees, right? Because while a judge’s ignorance might equal a controversial victory for one fighter, a referee’s ignorance could drastically alter the course of a fight or worse *cough* looking at you, Jerry Poe *cough*. Take the Bobby Green/Jacob Volkmann fight from UFC 156, for instance, in which referee Kim Winslow chose to stand the two up in the second round despite the fact that Green was completely working Volkmann over with ground and pound at the time. Although Green was able to score the victory regardless, in short, Big John did not approve:
I will [only] stand a fight up when it’s close to an even position,” McCarthy said. “If you’re in guard, or even half guard, and the action has stalled to the point, and I give you warnings [that] I need you to get busy and nothing really changes, you’ve shown me that you can’t do anything, I’m going to stop you. I’m going to restart you. But if you get to dominant positions, be it side control, mount, back, the only way in the world that I would ever stand somebody up out of that, and I’ve done it once — I tell this story, it’s Jeremy Horn – is if you go and clamp down and you’re the one stalling the fight because you’re not doing anything.
You’ve got to have some compassion about how hard it is to do some of the things these [fighters] are trying to do, and doing it against a guy who knows what you’re trying to do. When you get guys in these mad scrambles and they’ll finally end up in a position on the ground, and you’ll see a referee come in and five second later [say], ‘Come one. Work.’ It’s like, ‘Jesus Christ, don’t you think they just did? Wouldn’t you be trying to get your heart rate back and breathe a little bit?’ You’ve got to be reasonable when you’re looking at things. Sometimes that’s what separates the referees that fighters want to have doing their fights compared to others, because they understand the complexities of what’s going on.
It remains to be seen if anything will actually be done to help curb two of the biggest problems currently facing MMA (well, two of the three biggest problems at least). The sad fact is, neither referees, nor judges, nor the athletic commissions responsible for hiring either of the former have truly been forced to take responsibility for a blown call, a late stoppage, or a botched score. Sure, us fans get in an uproar and take to our laptops every time we see one, but nothing is ever accomplished in terms of moving forward, primarily because none of the parties involved ever appear to be in danger of losing their job as a result of their own incompetence.
It’s a luxury many of us can’t afford at our jobs, unless your job is my job, in which case “gross incompetence” is more of a grey area. CAPTAIN SWINGDICK FOR LIFE, ASSHOLES!!!
* I know, I’m also disappointed that I couldn’t think of a fresh Alistair Overeem joke to go here. I’ll see myself out.