The last few Ultimate Fighting Championship events have had their share of judging/reffing errors, and UFC president Dana White is getting tired of it. White shared his thoughts on the current state of officiating in MMA, in his inaugural presidential address.
“I’ve said it many times. In the evolution of this sport right now, one of the big problems that we have is judging and reffing,” White said. “It’s one of the things that drives me crazy and attention needs to be paid to scoring and reffing. First of all, it affects guys’ careers… as far as legacies go. Jon Jones? Jon Jones should be undefeated right now but he’s not, he’s got a loss on his record and there’s tons of guys in the UFC that have those. There’s guys who’ve absolutely, clearly won fights and lost on the judges’ scorecards. Nobody’s perfect. There’s always gonna be problems. But the judging and the reffing is so bad in mixed martial arts, it drives me crazy. The fans hate it too and it hurts the sport. These athletic commissions really need to tighten up and start working on educating their refs and judges.”
I couldn’t agree more with White’s take how bad officiating has gotten in MMA. Many fans still remember Erick Silva’s brilliant performance at UFC 142, when the Brazilian ran right through Carlo Prater. Unfortunately for Silva, he ended up getting disqualified (by Mario Yamasaki) for punches to the back of the head, even though the replays showed a majority of his strikes were clean.
Herb Dean also surprised me at UFC 143, deducting 2 points from Alex Caceres for kicking Edwin Figueroa in the groin. Caceres was warned after his first kick to the groin (seemed unintentional), but I just didn’t see anything that justified taking more than a point on the second. Especially given the fact Figueroa tried to milk the situation, pretending he was kicked in the groin on a clean strike (I would actually like to see the UFC penalize such behavior in the future).
MMA judges aren’t yet where I would like them to be, but they are generally moving in the right direction. One thing I do wish would change is the emphasis on takedowns in MMA. If a fighter gets a takedown and does something with it, give him/her points for that. However, if the fighter isn’t able to keep their opponent down, points shouldn’t be awarded.