It may be old news at this point, but the UFC’s recent trip to Florida, though rife with entertaining fights and exciting finishes, was basically a clusterfuck of refereeing and judging incompetence. MMAFighting’s Mike Chiappetta wrote a very thorough article detailing all of the things that went wrong that night, but here’s the basic run down for those of you who don’t like to have all of those pesky words get in the way of your reading:
-The Henry Martinez vs. Bernardo Magalhaes fight was originally scored a UD win for Martiniez, but was later changed to a split decision when the scorecards were looked over again.
-The Mike Pierce/Carlos Eduardo Rocha fight ran into the opposite problem. It was originally scored a SD for Pierce, a notion that was responsible for more blown minds than the ending of Saw. It took the judges some four days to realize that it was actually scored a unanimous decision for Pierce.
-Lance Benoist was able to illegally strike Seth Baczynski twice without being deducted a point.
-Tim Means, on the other hand, nearly beat Justin Salas to death before the ref decided to step in.
Aside from all of this, the commission also managed to drop the ball twice at the pre-fight weigh-ins, incorrectly announcing the weights of both Means and Benoist before realizing their errors. But we’d specifically like to focus on the staggering inadequacy of the judges. Because judging, unlike any other occupation, is seemingly non-performance based. Time after time we’ve seen the same familiar faces make royal asses of themselves on the job, always to find the same job waiting for them come Monday morning.
But thankfully, MMA’s patron saint of subjectivity, Joe Rogan, is here to lay it on the line for these inept jackasses who seem to be actively trying to ruin the sport. According to a recent interview with BloodyElbow, Rogan thinks that these judges should be relieved of their duties if they refuse to learn the ins and outs of the sport they are supposed to be monitoring:
I think they should fire judges that suck. I don’t understand how someone can keep their job over and over again while screwing up over and over. What do you call that exactly? Extreme incompetence. How does someone judge any sort of combat sport without at least a passing interest in the sport? If you pulled aside, and I don’t want to name any names, but if you pulled aside some of those judges from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, that has notoriously had horrific scoring, and started asking them about fighters that aren’t fighting in the UFC, would they know anything about them? Would they know anything about who the top judo guy is? Would they even know anything about Gilbert Melendez and how good he is?
Do these guys know how you set up an armbar? If I sat them down and said, ‘Do an armbar on this guy’, would they be able to do that? I think you’ve got to know when a guy’s in trouble and when a guy’s not in trouble, and the only way to know that, is to have actually trained. I don’t think you can be a person who judges martial arts without being an expert in martial arts.
I have never had a mixed martial arts fight, but I’m a martial arts expert. I’ve been a martial arts expert since I was a little boy. I know what I’m really good at, and I know what I don’t understand as well, but I have dedicated my entire life to martial arts. It’s been a focus of mine since I was a growing boy, so when I commentate on MMA, I do it with the passion of someone who is 100% a fan. If I had to choose between my job with the UFC and not being a fan anymore, I would for sure just quit working.
Look, we’re not going to rant about the current state of MMA judging, because we’ve already been there, and in fact, we tried to offer some solutions. But suffice it to say, we couldn’t agree more with Rogan. The fact that these judges who seemingly have little to no understanding of the various aspects of MMA, or their effectiveness in an actual fight, is beyond ridiculous, and they need to either study up or shut up, so to speak. An incorrect score could mean the difference between a fighter getting a call back from the organization or being let go, and should not be taken as lightly as it has been up to this point.
And if many of the UFC’s in-ring employees are at risk of losing their job with every performance, why shouldn’t those who are responsible for determining their fate be as well? The obvious answer for the fighters who most often rely on the judges *cough* Dominick Cruz *cough*would be to do as Kenny Florian does and simply finish fights. But to our knowledge, there are very few fighters who can claim that they’ve never been to the judges, and they shouldn’t exactly live in fear that if they do happen to go the distance, they’ll be punished for it as the result of some else’s incompetence.