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Is MMA the Jazz in Combat SportsMMA: The “Jazz” of Combat Sports

Written by: Barry Lindenman

Classical music has been with us since around the 11th century. Similarly, the emergence of boxing as a legitimate sport can be traced back to its acceptance by the ancient Greeks as far back as 688 BC.

On the other hand, jazz, as a legitimate music style, is a relatively new phenomenon. Its cultural origins can only be traced as far back to New Orleans in the early 1910’s. In the entire pantheon of sports, like jazz is to music, mixed martial arts (MMA) is the relatively new kid on the block.

Its acceptance as a legitimate sport (not to mention a global phenomenon) can only be traced back to the early 1900’s to the Vale Tudo matches in Brazil and the Merikan contests in Japan. It has only been since 1993, when the Gracie family brought the concept of “ultimate fighting championships” to the United States, that the sport really started to spark this revolution now known as MMA.

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Chess vs MMAPhysical Chess

Written by: Barry Lindenman

A quick search of the internet for some commonly used terms of this sport revealed the following: attack, domination, open position, closed position, pin, tempo, time control, etc. No, I wasn’t doing a search about mixed martial arts (MMA) but rather, Chess!

The reason for conducting such a search is it occurred to me that these two seemingly very different sports (OK, I know that Chess is really a “game” not a “sport”), have a lot in common. Mainly, the object in both endeavors (happy now?) is to attack sufficiently in order to gain the best advantageous position against your opponent that will ultimately force him or her to quit.

This element of “quit” in mixed martial arts is of course the tap out; in Chess, it refers to making your opponent “resign” when they realize that he or she is helpless and there is no way that they can win.

The respective ways in which an MMA fighter or a Chess player achieves success during a match can also be very similar. Just as there are countless styles of MMA fighting and various ways to obtain cage control over your opponent, there are an equally number of strategies and moves that a Chess player can initiate against his or her opponent to seize control of the board and ultimately place themselves in a position to conquer them. Without going into specifics about the various Chess theories and differing schools of thought, suffice it to say that based on the number of grandmasters and books that have been written, there are as many attack and defense techniques in Chess as there are in MMA.


Instant Replay in MMA?

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 30:  Mixed martial ar...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Instant replay in sports is nothing new - but it is new to MMA. Even though the State of New Jersey approved the use of instant replay a couple of years ago (or more), it has only been used a couple of times.

If the Illinois State Athletic Commission had already approved it, Referee Mario Yamasaki may not have disqualified Erick Silva for hitting Carlo Prater on the back of the head at UFC 142 this past weekend, and the fight may have ended differently. 

Yamasaki is a great MMA ref, and a very classy guy. Per, he was a guest on Portal do Vale Tudo's podcast yesterday and addressed the subject of instant replay, which was not available to the referees at UFC 142 in Brazil:

"To err is human and it is no shame to admit that you made a mistake and change your opinion." he stated. "I think it is great for the referees (the new rule) and give us an opportunity the take a better look in what happened and finally make our decision. The athletes work so hard to fight at the UFC that they deserve it.

"(Erick Silva) showed class and maturity. He could have made it a circus with the interview after the fight, but understood the situation and behaved like a real gentleman. He is a great kid."

"(Joe Rogan) was doing his job and it was my mistake of staying there in the middle. I should had left before that."

He also talks about the importance creating a Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, and subsequently training MMA referees and judges for Brazil. Please go here to read more.

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Mixed Martial Arts Takedown Attempt

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Judging MMA:
Simple or Complex?

Written by  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The term “damage control” is a common phrase that describes the actions needed to deal with any problem that may jeopardize an endeavor. More commonly, it has frequently been adopted for use in politics and the media to describe a need to suppress information or employ spin doctors to represent a counter response to a particular situation.

The term “damage control” can also be applied to judging an MMA bout as well. The only difference being that the term simply needs to be split into its two components: damage and control. In its most simplistic application, judging and scoring an MMA round is all about evaluating these two variables: (1) damage and (2) control.

In my mind, the term “damage” covers all the various types of strikes (kicks, punches, etc.) and the term “control” covers all the other “non-striking” components of the sport (takedowns, throws, holds, ground game, etc.). Breaking down the MMA scoring criteria into these simplistic terms is the easy part. The harder part is weighing the effect these two components have on each of the fighters, so that what happened inside the cage can accurately be reflected outside the cage - on the judges’ scorecards.

Before I get into the specific challenges MMA judges face when scoring a round, I think it needs to be made clear there are differing perspectives on viewing the action in an MMA fight, depending on the particular spectator involved. Here are the five differing viewpoints that exist when watching an MMA fight:

1. The live audience
2. The fighter’s respective corners
3. The television commentators
4. The television viewing audience
5. The judges who actually score the fight

Each of these different spectator groups can have a completely different take on the action they see because of their different loyalties, biases, perspectives or jobs for which they are responsible. Clearly, of all of these, the three judges represent the smallest group, but they can have the most impact on the outcome of a fight. That’s why judges’ actions and opinions so often are viewed under a microscope and why they receive such scrutiny.


Controversy in Ref'ing - it happens...

Controversy in MMA fights is not new, and it’s certainly not restricted to female MMA referees, as so many people would have us think of late.

For example, back in July, 2011, Sheila Bird defeated Kim Couture via scissor choke Round 1, 1:48.

The problem? The referee who was overseeing the fight, Len Koivisto from Edmonton, was unable to recognize the submission, and left the choke on for a full 10 seconds after Kim Couture had already passed out! This resulted in a long period of unconsciousness and spasms, all while fans and even the Calgary Commission Official yelling to the ref that she was out.

So do mistakes happen? Of course, and that’s not to say this makes them okay, but it does show that they are not made dependent on whether or not the ref is a man or a woman.


These shots were taken by Charles Penner "The Sniper,” a freelance Combative Sports Photographer. Photos courtesy of CombatCaptured and AX Combat.

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