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Tag: Jeff Blatnick

Jeff Blatnick, 1957-2012: A Pioneer and a Friend


(Jeff Blatnick with Madeleine Genia. Photo courtesy of the author.)

By Jim Genia

Jeff Blatnick, a two-time Olympian and gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1984 Summer Olympics, died today at age 55 due to complications from heart surgery. It’s a blow to amateur wrestling, as Blatnick was a indefatigable coach, and it’s a blow to MMA, as Blatnick was a pioneer in the sport and widely considered to be one of the best cageside judges in the business. And if you knew the man, and were privileged enough to call him a friend, well, it isn’t so much a blow as it’s an Anderson Silva-esque knee to the solar plexus.

His accomplishments were many and awe-inspiring. His gold medal came after battling back cancer, and he only gave up competing when the cancer returned and he had to undergo chemotherapy. When the UFC came along, Blatnick became its first face of true legitimacy, working in front of the camera as a commentator (a gig he held from UFC 4 to UFC 32) and later, behind the scenes as the organization’s — and really, the sport’s — vanguard in the quest for sanctioning and mainstream acceptance. Prior to the crafting of the Unified Rules, there were the rules that Blatnick helped develop to tame the spectacle. And perhaps most notable of all, there was the name he wanted the sport to adopt: “mixed martial arts.” (Before then, it was called no-holds-barred – a barbaric throwback to the bloodsport that wound up banned throughout most of the country in the mid ’90s).

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Fight of the Day: Glover Texeira vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at WEC 24

Five years ago a Cameroon national judo team member by the name of “Sokoudjou” shocked the world by taking out highly-touted PRIDE veterans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. One fight prior to his coming out party, “The African Assassin” met up with an equally tough Brazilian named Glover Texeira, who at the time was training with UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell at “The Pit” in San Luis Obispo, CA. Texeira utilized his superior stand-up to test Sokoudjou’s chin and let’s just say that Rameau’s jaw wasn’t prepared for the pop quiz.

Texeira has been on the UFC’s radar for some time. Chuck Liddell told me a year ago that the light heavyweight, who sometimes moonlights as a heavyweight would likely be Octagon-bound as soon as he sorted out his visa issues, but he’s been stuck in holding pattern fighting on regional Brazilian cards. Hopefully the 31-year-old makes it Stateside some time soon. The UFC’s light heavyweight class could use a shake-up.

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UFC Judging Might Be Slightly Less Terrible at ‘Edgar vs. Maynard 3′

Joe Rogan Leonard Garcia
(It’s like they say, Leonard: You win some, you win some.)

Good news for fans of competent scoring — according to Marc Ratner, the UFC has formally submitted a request to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to provide monitors for the judges assigned to score the bouts at UFC 130: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 (May 28th, Las Vegas). Up until now, California has been the only state to ever provide monitors for judges while scoring MMA bouts. I love this part:

When MMA Fighting asked NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer if he would be open to the idea, Kizer replied, “Maybe.”

Great, Keith. As long as it doesn’t inconvenience you. The use of monitors in MMA judging is a common-sense addition that we’ve been whining about since Machida/Rua 1. It seems that the availability of multiple angles and close-ups would help judges evaluate action that they might otherwise miss from the fixed position and sight-line that their seat affords. However, not all judges agree that watching a fight on a screen is better than watching it play out in front of their eyes…

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