December 05, 2010
The UFC put on another quality fight card at "The Ultimate Fighter 12," but it may be be overshadowed by one shaky call by the judges. Leonard Garcia got what appeared to be a gift in taking a split decision from Nam Phan in the opener of the Spike telecast.
Twitter and the MMA blogosphere exploded. The crowd at the Palms in Las Vegas chanted bull[expletive], Phan looked shocked and Garcia apologized. All that was tame compared to the rant unleashed by UFC color analyst Joe Rogan.
As Johny Hendricks and Rick Story waged a fight that appeared to be headed towards another decision, Rogan cautioned the fighters to not leave it in the judges' hands.
"I don't think the last fight was close and the decision went the wrong way," Rogan said on Spike. "It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on fighters not knowing what kind of officiating you're getting."
Then Rogan got more heated.
"It's gross. You should be able to leave it in the hands of the judges. You should be able to just fight," Rogan said.
There's been some shaky decisions on UFC cards all over the world in 2010, but Rogan launched into an attack on the quality of judging in Nevada.
"And we should point out, that is the situation because of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It has nothing to do with the UFC," said Rogan. "People keep saying 'oh the UFC!' We have no say whatsoever. And (NSAC executive director) Keith Kizer has denied that there's an issue"
Rogan wants most of the judges relieved of their duties.
"I think (Kizer) needs to clean house. There's a few very good judges surrounded by a bunch of incompetent morons, who know nothing about the sport," said Rogan.
"They need to do something about that, because it's ruining MMA. It's making people think that this sport is corrupt," Rogan said. "It has nothing to do with corruption. It's sheer and total incompetence."
Rogan was speaking with some emotion and that's fine. It was just minutes after he saw a kid fight hard and lose because of a wacky decsion.
There are bad decisions now and there will be forever. That's the fight game. Judging is subjective. Boxing has dealt with this "controversy" for over a hundred years. But unlike boxing, the MMA judges are pulling from a sample of three and five rounds, not 10, 12, and in the past 15.
The UFC along with several other major companies are putting on more and more MMA cards each year. That's means hundred of televised and non-televised fights. More fights means more decisions, meaning a better chance they get some wrong.
It's not ruining the sport. And unless the broadcasters at the event - and the thing same goes for guys like HBO's boxing voices Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman - harp on this judging incompetancy thing, most casual fans will let shaky decisions slide after a few days.
These claims of corruption happen in every sport. There was a referee betting scandal in the NBA and fans have forever believed the league office asks the officials to give preferential treatment to its glamour teams. Has the league folded? Thursday night's LeBron James return to Cleveland beat the NFL game in the ratings.
The NCAA and major conferences like the SEC and Big 10 clearly back this stupid BCS and there's been some shaky calls that have helped teams like Oregon and Auburn along the way. In spite of how shady the Cam Newton eligibility decision was and the long history of selective prosecution when it comes to the power programs (aside from USC recently), college football hasn't been ruined.
Everyone who's up in arms about this should speak with Marc Ratner. Ratner, a VP with the UFC, would probably chuckle at the assertion that there's a judging epidemic. He was in Kizer's position for years, essentially serving as the czar of boxing. He heard the same thing in the 70's, 80's and 90's in boxing.
It probably bothers him even more now with MMA as he tries to sell dummies like N.Y. assemblyman Bob Reilly on the notion that the sport is safe and legitimate. It makes it difficult when some of the biggest people around the sport undermine the effort by saying MMA is way short on qualified referees and judges.
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