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Inside the Octagon


Mike Dolce’s “Ultimate Fighter 7” Blog: Week 5


Vanilla or Chocolate?

Truly that seems to be the state of MMA right now. Personal preference seems to be dictating the results of sanctioned, mixed martial arts competition.

In no way is this piece meant to be a rant on any specific judges, commissions or organizations, as many are of the highest pedigree. But the fifth episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 7” certainly begs the argument, “What the hell was that judge watching?”

Could you imagine if personal preference dictated a straight-forward game of – oh, I don’t know – checkers?

Let the two equally matched opponents bring their style of game to the table only to have three judges of unknown experience and qualification choose a winner based on extremely unspecific, and often contradictory criteria!?

How can this be?

Personally, I am terrified by the current state of judging in mixed martial arts, as this is my chosen career.

As a professional mixed martial artist, professional coach, and loyal fan of the sport, I would like to know exactly what the criteria is for selecting judges of professional, organized, state-sanctioned, well-funded, highly watched mixed martial arts bouts, in which hundreds of millions of dollars are sometimes exchanged solely dependant upon the decisions rendered by…whom?

Where do the judges come from? What is their background? Experience level? Training? Psychological state? Physical well-being? Eyesight? Who oversees their performance? What criteria determine their ability to satisfactorily perform their function? Do they have to undergo a continuing education program? Who runs it? What is the curriculum? How are they held accountable? What is their level of ethics? Do they have any appearance of conflict or vested interest in any bout?

Many certified professionals must undergo mandatory continuing education programs.

As a municipal tax assessor, I had to pass a rigorous testing procedure just to become certified. Then I had to amass a stellar résumé of developmental titles and positions over many years to even sit for an interview for the position in which I was certified.

To keep my certification valid, I had to undergo multiple training courses each year on a pass/fail basis to ensure that I retained my current level of skills. Then I had to continually develop more skills to better perform my job, all the while I was scrutinized by multiple, local, regional and state organizations that reviewed every decision and action I made.

And everything I did was an open, public record inviting an even greater level of scrutiny.

The above example is only a frame of reference from my own history. But I do believe it draws specific parallels to the individuals whom we expect to have the experience and integrity to judge professional athletes in competition.

The Brandon Sene and Dante Rivera fight is an excellent example of what is wrong with the judging criteria in our sport.

Who won the fight? How does one choose?

Or better yet, how does one choose the one who will choose???

Has each judge received extensive, exhausting training to determine the clear winner in such a close battle of divergent styles? If not, WHY NOT?!

Isn’t that what this sport is about? Divergent styles? Game plans? Controlling the action or trying to inflict damage? Yes! It is!

If I have a bad day at the office there are immediate repercussions. I lose the fight, I lose half of my paycheck, and quite possibly, I lose my position within the organization.

On the flip side, what happens if a judge has a bad day? I might lose the fight, I might lose half of my paycheck and quite possibly, I might lose my position within the organization, even though I might have had my best day!

I’m not the guy to make the rules or even enforce them, but having paid all of my required sanctioning fees to every commission I’ve ever worked with, I would respectfully like to know the criteria in which my peers and I are being judged, and the criteria in which the judges are being judged.

My livelihood depends on it.

Before I end, I would like to say that Dante and Brandon are both excellent fighters and gentlemen athletes who left their hearts in the cage that day as any true warrior would.

Both guys privately confided in me that they sincerely believe they had won.

And, depending on which judge you talked to, both fighters were right, but only one moves a step closer to the title of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Mike Dolce is a cast member of “The Ultimate Fighter 7.” He is a professional fighter, strength coach and sports nutritionist. For more information, to read past blogs or learn about “The DOLCE Diet” go to www.MikeDolceMMA.com

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 10:49 am by lvollmer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Brandon Sene, Dante Rivera, Mike Dolce, The Ultimate Fighter 7, UFC




About this blog
Web programmer by day, practicing mixed martial artist at night, Larry Vollmer Jr. brings the latest news from the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the rest of the mixed martial arts world - a fast-spreading obsession on TV and online. These are the bouts - they occur in an octagon-shaped "ring" - that test men's souls.