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Quote(s) of the Day: Dana White’s ‘State of the Union’ on MMA Judging and the UFC Coming to Hawaii

(If Dana were to give an actual State of the Union, we imagine it would sound a little something like this.)

Now, I know I am going to take a lot of flack for writing this, but it’s good to see that UFC President Dana White is at least addressing our concerns when it comes to the clusterfuck that is MMA judging and refereeing. No matter what, or should I say, whose, side you took in the whole Diaz/Condit debacle, you probably agree that there need to be some serious changes made when it comes to choosing the winner of a given fight. And don’t even get us started on the Koscheck/Pierce decision.

The simple fact is that although the sport has evolved in leaps and bounds over the years, the matter by which it is judged has refused to change its mindset, like a stubborn old man who still believes that a mythical beast hustled him out of three dollars and fifty cents.

And while reffing will always contain a certain degree of human subjectivity (as with any other sport), MMA judges should be able to adhere to stricter, more definable rules than “aggression” and “octagon control,” which leave a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to deciding a close round. We’ve already put forth several options, and per usual, no one has returned our calls.

DW’s Presidential Address

I’ve said it many times. In the evolution of this sport right now, one of the big problems we’re having right now is judging and reffing. It’s one of the things that drives me crazy and attention needs to be paid to scoring and reffing. First of all, it affects guys careers as far as legacies go. Jon Jones? Jon Jones should be undefeated right now but he’s not, he’s got a loss on his record and there’s tons of guys in the UFC that have those. There’s guys who’ve absolutely, clearly won fights and lost on the judges’ scorecards. Nobody’s perfect. There’s always gonna be problems. But the judging and the reffing is so bad in mixed martial arts, it drives me crazy. The fans hate it too and it hurts the sport. These athletic commissions really need to tighten up and start working on educating their refs and judges.

While Dana undoubtedly makes some good points here, the real question is that, aside from further educating judges on certain rules and techniques, what can we do to spruce up, if you will, the current judging system of mixed martial arts? Discuss, Potato Nation. But please, don’t waste our time arguing for a “fight to the finish” rule set. We both know that shit simply ain’t going to happen in this day and age, so spending time arguing for it is as pointless as voting for Ralph Nader.

In a bit of more positive news, White recently spoke with MMA Weekly about the UFC’s future plans for global dominance to put on a show in Hawaii, and guess who he wants to headline it:

We’re still working on that, but we want to do it. I was kind of hoping to go to Hawaii again and do a B.J. (Penn) fight at the Aloha Bowl, but B.J. wants to take some time off. He’s going to relax for a while. We’re coming regardless, but that was the fight I really wanted to do there.

Awwww snap. It looks like we may be seeing the return of “The Prodigy” before we know it. Who would you guys like to see Penn square off against, and at what weight class? Personally, I’d like to throw my vote in for a rematch between Penn and Lyoto Machida held at light heavyweight, but I’m just a dreamer.

-J. Jones. 

Cagepotato Comments

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XENOPHON- February 10, 2012 at 7:40 am
@bootystar - many hands at various layers means bureaucracy. Bureaucracy in government means that the people at the end of the line get fucked. Take a look at all the layers of bureaucracy inside professional MMA. Fighters, trainers, nutritionists, managers, attorneys, sponsors, individual business pursuits, promotion affiliations, state commissioning, medical testing, referees, and judging.......................................................................................One could do the same flow chart for each level that I noted (surely there could be than what I listed), and then weave them together for a matrix. It would be clear - a clusterfuck exists. My point is MMA is nothing like it was a decade ago. Some of the old was cool, but today isn't so bad either. The exception is the amount of bureaucracy!................................................................................Dana is advocating more governmental oversight by advocating that judging and refereeing be subjected to yet another layer of bullshit. His way of fixing anything is to make more of a mess. If that happens, everybody loses - especially the the people at the end of the line..........................................................................................
I advocate clean and streamline - more bureaucracy is death. Remove the judges completely. They are the weakest link today in MMA. Adjust the rules and transfer their power to the referee based on point deductions from inside the ring during a match.
The_Dead_Cow- February 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm
Penn vs Leben
fatbellyfrank- February 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm
I think the athletic commisions need to look at thier potential judges and refs,and ensure via education, education and re-education that these guys are up to speed and in the majority of incidents come up with the correct decision, (gotta factor in the human error quotient. And consistency, one incident warning(strikes to boh, nut shots , finger pokes, fence grabs) 2 incidents, per fight or per round, as long as its consistent point deduction, 3rd incident DQ, not 40,000 fucken warnings like we saw with koschek. End of the day, I dont think we need to reinvent to much, just make sure the people in charge of scoring are competent, and i don't beleive they are at the moment, If I was a fighter for a title shot and cecil peoples was a judge, well you'd wanna go hell for leather for a stoppage or the decision becomes a lottery.
bootystar- February 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm
he looks like he's in a positive mood
Abaxial- February 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm
Enforcement of rules needs less grey area. The fact Koscheck got multiple warnings for the eye poking was retarded. Do it once get a warning. Do it twice get a point taken. Nevermind the bad judging on the fight to begin with.

Some sort of sub scoring system for the judges would probably help as well. No I don't know what would be worth what, but when you leave this to someone perception of "octogon control" people are going to see it differently. Something like takedown is worth 1/2 point, scaled up to 3/4 point if there's a sub attempt or significant damage done. Arbitrary rules will give you arbitrary results.
Morningwood- February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm
While I agree, the judges and ref's need to evolve to a higher level of competence. Maybe dana should look at things closer to his control. Like his fighters increasingly more often testing positive for banned substances.
towelie- February 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm
I'm not sure why Bruce Leeroy got a 2 point deduction, but that was lame too, and I don't even care for the guy as a fighter.

With that said though, I think they shuold start deducting points for holding on to the cage regardless of it being the first time in a match or not. such as the Aldo fight where he was about to be slammed by Mendes and was sideways in the air holding the cage, but just got a warning. It could have changed the dynamics of that fight had he been slammed by Mendes. The rules haven't changed about this matter, and you're the champ, it's not your first mma fight. Everyone should know better. A kick in the balls is a little different as it might be argued that it wasn't intentional.
Get Off Me- February 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm
The refs are much easier to deal with....take the control of where the fight is taking place away from the referee's discretion....create a stand up rule for fighters who do not advance position inside 60 consecutive seconds on the ground, primarily when one fighter is inside his opponents full guard. If a fighter passes full guard, do not touch him, tell him to "work" or stop the action to stand the fighters up. This will be underlined once again in the Diaz/Miller fight on FOX..........Jim Miller will sit inside Nate's guard, defend sub attempt after sub attempt, not advance his position and go on to win a 5 rounder of a shit show..
Get Off Me- February 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm
Get Off Me Says:
Wed, 10/19/11 - 07:38

I wrote a piece like this after the Sherk vs. Dunham fight. I even used Fight Metric stats from the fight to underline the problem with judging in this sport. The problem is not the scoring system, recently MFC moved to the 1/2 point system and yielded a disgustingly incorrect decision win for Ryan Jimmo over Sokodju. The problem is two fold, defining judging criteria and equal scoring of all disciplines in MMA needs to happen. I think submission attempts should be valued in a fight, especially as we see more fights end via submission than we do by lay n pray. For instance, Clay Guida laying on top of Anthony Pettis, Pettis try's 8 sub attempts during a 5 minute period, Guida lands shoulder striked from inside Pettis's guard, Guida wins the round 10-9. Striking, Wrestling and BJJ all need to be given equal consideration during a round, this is not the case now and until this happens it will not matter what point system judges use because they do not know what they should be awarding points for. Solution is to clearly define what counts as points in BJJ, Striking and Wrestling, how this relates to judging criteria(octagon control etc) and how together they are used to determine who won and lost a round. More draws is not a bad thing, but too many draws and the sport loses the finality that most major sports can offer in terms of having a winner and loser.
towelie- February 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm
Not sure if you were serious Fried Taco, but the illegal elbows should have been a point deduction. Hammill was unable to continue due to a disclocate shoulder caused by Jones slamming him to the canvas. If Mazzagatti would have got an interpreter to communicate with Hammill, he would have realized that he could not continue due to the shoulder slam from Jones, and not due to the illegal elbows to the face. Mazzagatti went full retard.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- February 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm
1) Jones threw illegal elbows. He was RIGHTFULLY DQ'd.

2) Alex Caceres shoudl only have lost one point. Hundreds of fighters get kicked in the balls, and I've seen much harder, more direct hits than those. But apparently as long as you drop to the ground and roll around and really play it up like Figeroa instead of just standing there holding your sack, the ref will give more severe penalties. All this incident did was insure people are going to be exaggerating their pain in the future.
bootystar- February 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm
@ BryanF, you could have just said don't hate the player hate the game. but usually when a guy says it the way you did it carries more weight, bravo
aaronb- February 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm
I thought Caceres should have gotten a DQ on the spot for that second cup check. Shouldn't have even reached the point where it could be a potentially controversial decision.
shiki31- February 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm
Not sure about the takedowns but you get the point. If anything shouldve been a draw. Then with caceres winning rds 2 and 3, the fight decision shouldve been a draw too due to 2-pt deduction (which was an odd deduction in itself).
Fried Taco- February 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm
I didn't realize it was the referee and judges fault that Bones was throwing illegal elbows.
shiki31- February 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm
Judges should be given a scoring sheet with sections for stand up, knockdowns, takedowns, groundwork and sub attempts. Refs would be required to indicate who won each section per round and give a quick justification for their scores in a notes section.
I thought the caceres decision was bullshit. So score for the first round would be...

Standup - caceres (controlled action on feet pre knock down)
Knockdowns - figueroa (head kick from hell)
Takedowns - none?
Ground - caceres (advancing positions, took figueroas back)
Subs - caceres (multiple sub attempts)

So caceres takes round one 10-9. Even with the knockdown. Why? Cause he controlled fight on the feet until figueroa threw that hail mary head kick and arguably thats the only significant strike he landed. He didnt land clean punches even after caceres was down. Plus caceres dominated on the ground. For judges to give figueroa the nod because of one head kick is ridiculous. I think scoring this way even gives uneducated judges things to at least look for. Also the justification of scores per round would give the athletic commisions an idea of whos seeing what. Furthermore, i would go with the joe rogan idea that judges shouldnt even be in the arena. They should be in a separate room with a 60 in tv watching the fight broadcast and not live.
BryanF- February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm
I once talked to Keith Kizer about the state of reffing and MMA judging. He mentioned that their are currently talks in place between referees and judging to amalgamate together and begin quarterly to yearly testing for qualifications so that it can adapt to the changing styles of MMA. He, like Dana White, believes that education, repetition, and consistency in establishing norms are key to keeping MMA running smoothly. The only problem was that the initiative lacked funding that the NSAC and CSAC weren't willing to put up. I asked him what was being done about it and where they planned on raising money. He said "we just need one thing". And when I asked 'what?' he said "I need about tree fiddy". It was then that the angle of the sunlight adjusted and I noticed that this was not the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission but a 30 foot tall marine-type, reptilian plesiosauraus from the early-Jurassic to late-Triassic period! I said "GAWDAMMIT! IT'S THE LOCH NESS MONSTER! I Ain't gonna give you no tree fiddy!". And then he ate me and i died. True story, bro.
wiv-honors- February 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm
since bj's not realistically challenging for either belt (LW or WW), I'd like to see how he performs in a catch-weight fight at 165. I think that's right around his natural "walk around" weight and so he wouldn't (or perhaps, "shouldn't" is the better word here) have any major issues with his cardio due to excess fat, or weight-cutting. There are a bunch of welterweights or even lightweights that can fight at 165, so a nice catch-weight would be nice.

either that, or, you know, a rematch against Lyoto as per Cagepotato's suggestion.
aaronb- February 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm
The promotion and the refs shouldn't put so much pressure on the fighter to continue after multiple fouls.

People are bitching that Bruce LeeRoy got a 2 point deduction for committing murder on Figeroa's balls. However the real crime is that that Bruce LeeRoy didn't get a DQ on that second infraction.
Terence218- February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm
The Corners should be able to have one challenge.. Kind of like the NFL.. just a thought