Hats off to Fox Sports for taking us inside the octagon to get a closer view of all the action slated for the "UFC on Fox 4" event on Aug. 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Fox will introduce a Ref Cam for the event, which will essentially take fans to a place they've never been before - inside the octagon and just inches from the fighters batting in the cage.
The lens will be placed at the top button of the referee's shirt, showing a unique point of view of the only other person inside the cage besides the fighters.
While the idea of a Ref Cam isn't exactly cutting edge - as HBO used it for their broadcast of Amir Kahn vs Danny Garcia, and other MMA promotions like Pride FC and Strikeforce tried the gimmick in the past - this is the first time we'll get a chance to see it in the UFC.
As you can see by this seven-minute Ref Cam highlight video, there's no question it provides an interesting dynamic if utilized properly. One of the best looks in the video was Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's devastating leg kick to end Hong Man Choi's night during a 2008 K-1 event.
The ref cam really captured the moment, showing the power of Cro Cop's kick and the painful expression on Choi's face, both of which wouldn't be available from the standard camera angle.
The ref cam angle offers us a lot of the fighter's facial expressions during a painful submission or stunning knockout, and it really helps capture the raw emotion of the scene.
Obviously, the main attraction of the Ref Cam is that also provides fans with a slightly different look than what they had before, and gets us closer to the action.
The Ref Cam is a bit shaky because the referees are always moving in a herky-jerky fashion to keep up with the fight.
As long as Fox uses the Ref Cam very sporadically, I'm fine with it. I hope they won't turn to the Ref Cam during the fights, and will instead give us this view only when they go into replay mode during the post-fight interviews.
Herb Dean, who is working the main event between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera, and "Big" John McCarthy, who will be the third man in the cage for the co-main event tilt between Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader, will both be wearing the Ref Cam.
As long as this doesn't distract the refs from their regular duties, I don't see anything wrong with it. The cameras are so small and lightweight that the referees probably will forget they are even wearing them, so I wouldn't expect any problems to arise from it.
The Fox press release on the matter states that the Ref Cam use during HBO's Amir Kahn vs Danny Garcia fight, received positive reviews from production and viewers. I don't think that's a far stretch from the truth. I'm also a big fan of Fox's Catcher Cam and Diamond Cam that they use in other sports they broadcast, so I'm guessing this will be another fan favorite.
Do you like the idea of a Ref Cam in UFC fights? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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