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Jeff Blatnick dies at age 55

By Zach Arnold | October 24, 2012

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WNYT report on his death due to complications from heart surgery.

UFC-written obituary.

Remembering gold medalist and former UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick:

Nick Lembo: Jeff should be remembered as one of the most important figures in the growth and formation of MMA in this country. He was the Chair of the MMAC, a key drafter of the proposed unified rules, an outstanding judge, and trainer to new officials.

He was also a dear personal friend and a man of loyalty, integrity and kindness.

Mike Goldberg:

Very sad day..Jeff Blatnick was my 1st UFC broadcast partner, 1st mentor, & to this day I still called him partner I’m crushed..RIP JEFF

Cael Sanderson:

R.I.P. Olympic Champion Jeff Blatnick “You learn to win by learning to lose. That is.. you aren’t afraid to lose!!”-JB

Josh Gross:

Sad day. Jeff Blatnick was one of most sincere people I’ve ever met, especially in MMA. His wisdom will be missed.

Robert Joyner:

greatest trick the Zuffa Myth ever pulled was to convince the world Blatnick didn’t exist…Jeff gave both shape & form to the sport of MMA

Jim Genia:

Jeff would judge a show in NJ and drive back to upstate NY overnight to coach wrestling in the morning. “Dedicated” barely describes it.

Jeff was the sport’s first face of legitimacy. Nowadays, Zuffa has Marc Ratner meet w/ legislators but back in the day it was Jeff Blatnick.

Jeff Blatnick worked tirelessly to try to get MMA sanctioned in NY. Even met with Bob Reilly and offered to let him regulate amateur MMA.

Jim shadowed Jeff last year while he was working as a judge at a show. Todd Martin also has a great article on Jeff’s impact on the early days of MMA.

Dave Meltzer: Whenever you hear the term mixed martial arts, you should think of Jeff Blatnick

He and current UFC matchmaker Joe Silva worked together on the first UFC rule book, and on the original judging criteria. He was also the television announcer, a role he had since UFC IV in 1995.

At the time, I was a UFC judge.

The show, held in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, La., was over and we were in Bourbon Street in New Orleans, with Silva and my future wife, and ran into Jeff. He said to me, “Don’t refer to the sport as No Holds Barred anymore, it’s mixed martial arts.”

Loretta Hunt at SI:

Lembo said Blatnick was also charged with teaching shadow judges, who worked their way up through the state’s amateur MMA program. Blatnick also conducted judging and wrestling seminars for new officials, said Lembo.

“The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has lost its anchor Judge, the world has lost a man of honor and integrity, and I have lost a dear friend who I cannot replace,” Lembo said.

In his 2012 memoirs, iconic MMA referee (Big John) McCarthy acknowledged Blatnick as one of the unsung heroes of the MMA movement.

“Jeff, you came into our sport with an open mind and was always willing to help,” McCarthy wrote. “You did more than most people realize, and you will always be someone I respect and am proud to call my friend.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 5 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

5 Responses to “Jeff Blatnick dies at age 55”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    He always came across as just a really good guy who loved both MMA and Wrestling.

    Blatnick and Rogan are in my opinion the two best commentators in MMA history. Their voices just worked well….

    Sad to see him pass so young…. although the bigger you are the harder it is to live longer….

  2. Steve4192 says:

    Not a fan of Robert Joyner using Blatnick’s death as an excuse to bash Zuffa. I have no problem with him attacking the ‘Zuffa myth’, but using Blatnick’s passing as a soapbox is in poor taste.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I think the point he was trying to make is that it was Jeff that was instrumental in the Unified Rules, which goes against The Zuffa Myth (TM Jeff Thaler & me) that they were the ones who introduced the Unified rules and ‘cleaned up the sport.’

      But, yes, I see your point about the crudeness in which it was written.


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