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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

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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

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9 Responses to “Mike Dolce’s “Ultimate Fighter 7″ Blog: Week 5”

  1. Bob

    I really enjoy your blog Mike. Keep up the good work.

  2. Brandon

    Mike, your a great example of how diverse mixed martial artists are. You guys are not just “cage fighters”, but have many other skills outside the octagon. Fighters such as yourself are a perfect example as to why other fight sports such as boxing are quickly becoming just another re-run on ESPN Classic.

  3. Brad

    Fantastic point. “Effective striking, grappling, agression and octagon control,” is obviously a fairly subjective thing. Were Brandon’s strikes effective by their criteria? Was Dante being agressive on the ground?

    Mike, I heartily agree with your blog and think you made your point extremely well. Good stuff.

  4. Dstrong

    I thought the judging was fine, I picked it a draw and going into a third. Here is a thought for Brandon and MikeyD(who I thought got his arse handed to him) try this one, Knock the dude out? Brandon should have tagged him as he was coming in, it wasn’t like Dante was shooting in on his takedowns, Hell you’ve got to know after the first 2 min that all Dante’s game was jab,jab, put head down and try to take Brandon down, and for a JuiJitsu man, how weak was the kimura attempts by Donte? Hey Donte, I’m a novice at JuiJitsu, but I know to keep very little space between me and my Opponent, that’s why you got reversed dude, but in final, If you let it get to the judge, then you didn’t do what your intent was when you entered the ring and that was to destroy the opponent. So deal.

  5. jam in pa

    That is why the coaches always tell the fighters not to let the judges decide the winner, The fighters need to finish or prepare for disappointment.
    Brandon layed down the punishment and in my book won the fight.
    This is one of the aspects of the original UFC that I miss, when the match continued until someone gave up.

  6. Mike Dolce

    Hey guys!

    In a perfect world all fights would be finished with a single devastating blow within the confines of predetermined time limits, BUT that is not the case quite often. Especially at the higher levels of competition where opponents are very evenly matched up.

    Sounds great on paper but not practical when discussing the future of our sport.

    Additionally, I like your point, JAM, of having no time limit, or the PrideFC model of scoring the bout as a whole based upon the “will to finish”. I also like the concept of being penalized for stalling, on the feet and the ground.

    The right answer is out there and with such passionate individuals as ourselves, we can certainly find it through open mediums like this site.

    My blog was meant to bring up a discussion on the future development of our sport, not an opinion piece of Rivera vs Sene.

    And Dstrong, I have ALWAYS tried to knock my opponents out, which is one of my most glaring strengths and weaknesses.

    Thanks for the great feedback everyone! Your input is certainly making me a better athlete and contributor.

    -Mike Dolce

  7. Kelly

    Telling fighters that they “can’t leave it in the judges hands” is a cop-out for the fact that the judging system is broken. Seriously. Why even have judges if everyone knows the judging is so bad? Why not just flip a coin after three rounds? It’s not always possible to finish someone in 15 minutes. If fights are going to be timed, some of them are going to decision. There is no way around that, and there should be a viable judging system in place to support it.

    This isn’t regarding Brandon v. Dante, I thought the fight was pretty even and knew it would go to Dante for octagon control. The only thing that none of the judges is going to miss (besides blood) is who is on top. You might not see every jab or knee, but you certainly see who is in control.

    Sports Illustrated published an article about Renato Verissimo and BJ Penn, and how they learned the hard way that in today’s MMA, you cannot win a decision from your back. Period.

    Oh, and being penalized for stalling? Yes, please!!

  8. Heather

    What I found really wrong with this fight, besides the fact that it was boring, was that in the second round, the ref told the fighters to STOP, not once but twice, while Dante had Brandon pushed up against the cage. After being told twice to stop, Dante tripped Brandon, and the ref said OK Fight. I really believe that they should have been stood up at that point and separated-since that was what the ref was trying to do at that time. Brandon may have stopped fighting the take down at that point after hearing Steve Mazzagatti tell them to stop. I also believe that Dante should have been penalized for not following the ref’s instructions. I can’t believe that this point wasn’t argued on the show.

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Larry Vollmer Jr.Larry Vollmer Jr.
is a Web programmer for LoHud.com, the Web site of The Journal News. He spends his days staring at thousands of lines of code and his nights throwing highkicks and hitting the mat with submission grappling specialists. After work and training, Larry gets the latest news on the world of mixed martial arts from the fighters themselves while watching and rewatching matches on his DVR. READ MORE

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