MMA Judge, Ricardo Almeida, Former UFC Fighter Says 'I Can't Make Judging Better, but I Can Make Myself a Better Judge': Fan's Look

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Ricardo Almeida, former UFC fighter and black belt in Brazilian jiu jiitsu under Renzo Gracie, was one of the three judges scoring the Josh Koscheck vs Johny Hendricks fight. Almeida (13 wins, 5 losses) was the only judge scoring the bout in Josh's favor. Koscheck lost to Hendricks by a razor thin split decision.

Ron Kruck from HDNet's "Inside MMA", interviewed Ricardo Almeida at his BJJ Academy to get the low down on what it's like to be a judge with high-level MMA experience. Also interviewed as part of the segment was Deputy Attorney General for New Jersey, Nick Lembo, who is credited for being the man who suggested to Ricardo--an 11 year veteran of the sport--that he become a judge. Nick got Ricardo started judging local events.

Being an MMA judge

Of his work outside of the cage, Ricardo said, "I can't make judging better, but I can make myself a better judge...As a fighter, you go out there and you do your a judge, you're very likely to do the same. I'm out there putting my heart into it, while other people are sitting at home and pointing fingers...I'm going to be there making it better and I think that's what counts."

Does Octagon experience help?

Most MMA judges haven't competed themselves--especially not at the level of the UFC as Ricardo Almeida has. Some detractors wonder if Ricardo's subjective opinion will sway him towards giving the benefit of the doubt to jiu jitsu players. Maybe. Maybe not. Judging is subjective. Each person brings their expertise and experience to the table. The reason for having three judges is to break a tie.

Dana White, UFC president, gave his opinion on having Ricardo as a judge for UFC events, "I commend him for stepping up and being one of the first high caliber fighters to get out there and become a judge or ref. I'd love to see more of it. We need it."

What about increasing the number of judges?

Would it make a difference to get five people's opinions? I think it would be interesting to test what would happen with more eyes considering the action. Or would that just mean more people getting it wrong? The problem, according to Ricardo, seems to be consistency.

UFC fighter, Brian Stann, joined Bas Rutten and Kenny Rice in the discussion. He agreed with Ricardo, saying fighters need consistency from judging to enable them to know whether they're winning a round or not. Brian's points, if implemented, might have the biggest impact in the short term.

Having all judges consistently assessing the situation in the same way would lead to agreement between fighters and judges (and fans) regarding as Brian listed, "...If I get a take down, I do nothing, am I still going to win a round? If I get a take down, how active do I need to be? What is--exactly--octagon control? If I get taken down for two minutes in the fight, but then I out-strike him for the other three, who's winning the round? These are the things that aren't consistent right now."

What about point of view?

It often seems that fans watching the fight on TV have a different point of view from the judges watching at cage-side, leaving people wondering "what fight are the judges watching?" when the call goes opposite of what most fans think they saw. Judges should have every tool available to help them make the best decision in the short time they have available to them.

Consistency in judging MMA fights: Who decides?

As Ron Kruck said during his segment, "...judging will always be subjective." Tipping the balance with more well-trained MMA fighters becoming MMA officials will make a difference in the long term. In the short term, however, fans have to deal with judge's decisions that leave them shaking their heads. Bad for fans and bad for the fighters who lose.

Someone needs to start a movement to organize "consistency in judging". Maybe the fighters themselves should write up their opinions in answer to Brian's questions. If the fighters can come to an agreement, then they can share their perspective with the judges.

What do you think would work?

Source: HDNet "Inside MMA", June 4, 2012,

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Cheryl Ragsdale started out boxing and has added kicks and BJJ so she can practice MMA. She trains with Keith Florian and UFC Fighter Kenny Florian at Florian Martial Arts - follow @thatgirlisfunny

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