Specialists put MMA judging in check

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Thomson celebratez, to Gesias's frustration. Photo: Esther Lin

The result of the fight between Gesias Cavalcante at Saturday’s Strikeforce event in California again put in doubt the competence of athletic commissions in judging MMA matches.
There was room for Thomson’s unanimous decision to be interpreted differently, there’s no denying it. However, the opinion of most, voiced over the various communication tools available on the internet, is that the bout was misjudged.
As mentioned, it’s been some time now that the decisions Commissions make on who wins a fight have been contested. We can look back on the relatively recent first fight between Maurício Shogun and Lyoto Machida at UFC 104 – it’s a tough one to judge, but it provoked a lot of chatter – and Brandon Vera versus Randy Couture at 105, among others.

The first fight between Lyoto and Shogun caused controversy. Dana White promptly set up the rematch. Photo: Josh Hedges

Recently, GRACIEMAG bounced the subject off a number of specialists. UFC referee Herb Dean, for example, remarked about how most judges have never practiced martial arts:
“One needs to train to understand the techniques, to understand what the guys are doing. I feel a lot of the problems arise precisely for that reason. They may not do the best job of evaluating a choke attempt and the likes. Often they don’t understand certain movements.”
If I’m a orthopedic doctor, am I the right guy to see for someone with heart trouble” André Pederneiras
Now ex-fighter and MMA coach André Pederneiras criticizes the fact that the commissions controlling MMA are the very ones that judge boxing:
“They have to put in judges experienced in MMA, they need to have a well-rounded black belt in martial arts. I feel the trend will be to stop working with boxing commissions and to create one specifically for MMA. For example: if I’m an orthopedic doctor, will I be the right doctor to see for someone suffering heart problems? That’s what is going on.”

Vera hit Couture more, but lost at UFC 105. Photo: Josh Hedges

Carlão Barreto, a former fighter now a referee, brings up the importance of understanding the ground game:
“Commissions need to get up to date on ground fighting, if just because of the the technical level grappling has reached in MMA. Grappling and striking should carry the same weight. What should count is how effective the fighters was. MMA is a blend of all fighting styles and should be interpreted as such”
Mario Yamasaki, another UFC referee, says what is going on at the moment to improve the situation:
“There a movement going on among table referees. There’s been a lot of controversy regarding a number of fights, but the sport is still young and will evolve a lot. The Commissions are evolving, but each state has its own and things vary between them. In Nevada, New Jersey and California, where the movement started, they are holding meetings after each event. The referees meet and debate. But there are commissions unconcerned with all that. A lot of judges come from boxing backgrounds, and MMA is a different sport. But that will change, because it’s been causing too much controversy.”

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