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Tag: MMA inspectors

What the Inspector Saw: Riding Shotgun at CFFC With the New Jersey Athletic Control Board

(Frankie Edgar and Chris Liguori, backstage at CFFC 16.)

By Jim Genia

I arrive at the venue at 5:00 p.m., waiting with the fighters to pick up the credentials that will allow me access to all areas. For the sixteenth installment of the New Jersey-based regional promotion Cage Fury Fighting Championships, there are UFC veterans taking on up-and-comers, rising stars facing local tough guys, and a pair of female competitors ready to throw down. But I’m not there to watch them all fight — not this time, at least. No, this time, I’m wandering around the bowels of the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City with the singular purpose of shadowing an inspector with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. There are countless articles on the fight night perspective as seen by the fighters themselves, and last year I sat beside venerable cageside judge Jeff Blatnick to get his take on things. But on this Friday night in August, I wanted something different. I wanted to know what the inspector saw.

Of all the moving parts of a sanctioned fight show — whether it be MMA or kickboxing or boxing — none are more prevalent than the inspector. They are there backstage, watching over the fighters as medicals are done, hands are wrapped, and warm-ups are undertaken. When it’s time to head to the cage, they’re there too, walking the fighter out, and standing beside them before and after the bout and in between rounds. The inspector is the ubiquitous lubricant that greases the gears. Without them, the engine wouldn’t run.

Aaron Davis may be the commissioner of the NJSACB, but Nick Lembo is grand poobah when it comes to MMA, and he wastes no time in introducing me to Vincent Dudley, the man I’ll be shadowing. Dudley is burly and solid and built like a lifelong martial artist, and when he folds his arms across his chest (a common stance adopted throughout the night), he’s a figure of authority and appears every bit the retired New York City Department of Corrections officer he professes to be. He’s friendly, yet there’s no mistaking feeling that if you screw up, he’ll let you know. Dudley has been working for the commission in New Jersey for years now, as an inspector but sometimes as a judge and referee, too. He knows the job.

And apparently, the job begins with getting all the fighters squared away in terms of paperwork, a doctor examination, and a urine sample for the pre-fight drug screening.