By Zach Arnold | December 2, 2013
Monday’s Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting was interesting, to say the least. A local BJJ trainer appeared for open comment and pleaded for more transparency from the judges when it comes to scoring fights. The trainer stated that Nevada needs more MMA-focused judges rather than using boxing judges and also encouraged the half-point scoring system. When prodded about the issue of transparency, the man said that nobody is sure which judges apply what kind of weight behind certain scoring criteria other than the fact that it seems takedowns and top position rather than transitions & submission attempts always get weighted more heavily.
Which then led us to the officials selection for the upcoming Anderson Silva/Chris Weidman II fight. Herb Dean will be the referee. The judges booked: Junichiro Kamijo, Chris Lee, and Patricia Morse Jarman.
After hearing the comments made by the trainer and the officials booked for Silva/Weidman II, one thought popped into my head regarding the current crop of judges Nevada is using.
I care if you know the difference between using the 10-point must system or PRIDE rules. I care if you are giving television monitors to judges to watch for fights or not. I care if you are using boxing judges with limited knowledge of MMA to score fights.
But you know what I really care about the most? Judges that actually watch the fights in the cage or ring that are happening right in front of their face. Because if you aren’t watching the action in front of you, heaven knows what you are watching on the other side of the cage. If you aren’t watching what you are scoring, then what is the point of your existence and the existence of the fight happening in the first place?
Give me fan scoring from the iJudgeFights App any day of the week.
I get it. Maybe a really cynical person could say that promoters don’t mind bad judges because it encourages fighters to go for a finish rather than leave their fate in the hands of the judges. Fine. But what’s the point of a commission’s existence and its credibility if the people they assign to score fights aren’t watching what’s taking place in front of them?
I bring this up because I received several messages Saturday night during the marathon Fox Sports 1 broadcast of the UFC event from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. During the broadcast, there were several shots of more than one judge who appeared to be… unfocused… while fights were happening in the cage. Perhaps these judges were watching television monitors because they couldn’t see what was going on. Here’s the problem: there were way too camera shots of people staring down and not watching action that was taking place right in front of their face. You don’t need a monitor to see what is going on when it’s right in front of your unobstructed view.
One judge, in particular, caught a lot of attention. On television, she was the judge cage side who had the Dodge Ram logo on the canvas in front of her. There were several screen shots I got of this particular judge not looking directly at the fighters while the action was happening in front of her.
And here are some screen captures from another fight…
I understand that the show was extremely long and drawn out. It’s hard to keep focus with so much dead time. The problem is that you have plenty of break time to be focused on anything but judging. When the fight starts, keeping focus should be priority #1. In this situation, I don’t know if the judge was looking at a monitor or if the judge simply wasn’t paying attention. What I am suggesting is that it looked awful on television and that regulators from other states were noticing what was going on.
It’s one thing to deal with a lack of knowledge. It’s a second thing to deal with different scoring systems. But if judges aren’t actively watching fight action that is happening in front of their eyes? Then that’s a whole different ball game.
Exit remark: Pat Lundvall of NSAC noted that Josh Barnett would have to undergo an educational course with Dr. Tim Trainor about PED usage. Tim Trainor, the same guy who Keith Kizer leans on for anabolic steroid (testosterone) passes to fighters in Nevada. Also curious is that Francisco Aguilar is now Chairman and not Bill Brady, who came from the Governor’s office. If Bill Brady is the one getting demoted for the sins of Keith Kizer and his political backers (UFC, Sig Rogich), why even bother having public hearings at this point?