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"Touch gloves, go back to your gloves. Uh, corners." – (giving the final instructions to Torres and Mizugaki)

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Can You Really be an MMA Referee?

One of the questions we get a lot from MMA fans and aficionados is "I've been a fan of MMA for years.  Can I become an MMA referee, even though I've never trained in the martial arts?" 

Good question! Refereeing an MMA fight looks easy enough, but that's because most of the times you're seeing a ref do his/her job, it's at a professional event that's being televised - such as a UFC, Bellator or Strikeforce event - and the referees you're watching have been doing it for a lot of years. When you think about the ref's we all know and love: Herb Dean, Josh Rosenthal, Mario Yamasaki, Big John MMcCarthy, Steve Mazzagatti, Kim Winslow, Yves Lavigne, Dan Miragliotta and more...what you might not realize is that they've all trained in at least one, if not more, of the martial arts systems that make up MMA! Additionally, they've been ref'ing for years.

It just makes sense, as how can you keep the control, and the respect, of the fighters you're ref'ing, if you don't know how? When the cage door closes and the bell rings, there are THREE people in the ring. Two of those people are fighters. Opponents. Competitors. Combatants. Warriors. They're fighting. And what's the ref's job? It's to protect the fighters.

And if the third person in the ring - that would be the referee - doesn't know how to control a fighter in the throes of battle, then the truth is: the ref really can't do his job.

For example, take a look at this video... 

Not quite sure why they let the fight continue after that initial sucker punch, but they did. After the ref tried to stop the fight, the agressor kept punching away, and, in the throes of the battle...either ignored the ref, or just didn't hear him. Either way, the ref was forced to take physical action, in order to stop the fight and protect the other fighter.

Without the proper level of training, it's doubtful this ref could have done what he did, and stop the fight before more damage was done. In fact, the fighter was pretty aggressive, and he could have easily turned on the ref and hurt him. What if the ref had no martial arts training? Yeah - it could have been pretty bad.

So to answer the question: "I've been a fan of MMA for years.  Can I become an MMA referee, even though I've never trained in the martial arts?" we'll have to say "No!" It's just not safe...for any of the three people in the ring.

And if you ask any athletic commission, you'll most likely get the same answer. Ask any professional MMA fighter, and they're likely to tell you they don't want their third partner in the ring to be an MMA fan, as valuable as fans are - because it's their life at stake. They want to be ref'd by a pro. 

So if you're thinking about becoming an MMA referee, do it! But if you haven't trained in any of the martial arts yet -- get started now! In about 2-3 years, you might then be ready.


LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 19:  Fernando Montiel...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Nonito Donaire vs Fernando Montiel Shows Why MMA Is Safer Than Boxing


Great article by Michael David Smith on the dangers of Boxing vs. MMA from our friends over at


"Saturday night's Nonito Donaire vs. Fernando Montiel fight was a big event for boxing, and a big victory for Donaire. But it was also something else: A demonstration of why mixed martial arts is a safer sport than boxing.


One of the key differences between MMA and boxing is that when an MMA fighter gets knocked down by a punch, he has to be alert enough to protect himself, or else the fight is over. In boxing, when a fighter gets knocked down, the referee starts counting, and the fighter has until a 10 count to get back to his feet. Which means a boxer whose brain is concussed badly -- as Montiel's brain was concussed when Donaire knocked him down in the second round -- can stagger back to his feet to take more punishment.


Donaire hit Montiel with a huge left hook and then a right uppercut as Montiel was tumbling to the canvas, and when Montiel hit the floor it was frightening: Montiel's arms went straight up over his head and his legs were twitching, and it looked like he was having some kind of seizure. In MMA, a competent referee would have immediately called off the fight, and the ringside doctor would have rushed in to treat the fallen fighter. 


But this is boxing, which meant the referee's job was to first direct Donaire to a neutral corner, then start counting as he stood over Montiel's fallen body. Amazingly, Montiel managed to stagger to his feet just before referee Russell Mora reached the 10 count. Even more amazingly, Mora allowed the fight to go on, even though it was clear to everyone watching that Montiel's legs were wobbly underneath him, and he wasn't all there mentally."


To read the article in its entirety, please go here. And please be sure to read it - humorous but true!


To view a video of the last 50 seconds of the fight, click "Play" below!

One size does not fit all!

Diagnosis and Management of Concussion in Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Combatants

On Tuesday, March 29, 2011, participants were invited to a live webinar called "Diagnosis and Management of Concussion in Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Combatants," featuring Peter Q. Warinner, M.D., neurologist and founder of the Sports Neurology and Concussion Clinic at the Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center. Sponsored by a generous grant by the Brigham and Women's Hospital, the seminar was held at the Bornstein Amphitheater in Boston, MA.

The following are some of the excerpts from that webinar which most fighters, their trainers and MMA professionals will be interested! (Please note there are times when I’ve had to cut some of the copy down due to length or interpret.)

According to Dr. Warinner, “One size does not fit all,” so guidelines must be developed to fit “most” fighters. Recommendations for diagnosis and management of a concussion:



Read more of the webinar questions and answers here...

Are MMA Fighters Following Medical Suspension Rules?

A fighter wraps his hands prior to putting gloves

Today, the Canadian Press asked: “MMA HAS MEDICAL SUSPENSIONS BUT WHAT IF FIGHTERS DON'T LISTEN?” What a great question!


According to the article:

"While other leagues struggle with concussions, the UFC points proudly to its medical record. "Here's the reality. This is the most regulated sport in the world," UFC president Dana White told the UFC 128 pre-fight news conference last week in New York.

The mixed martial arts juggernaut notes how referees jump in to prevent fighters in trouble from further damage, how doctors and ambulances are on hand fight night and the extensive pre- and post-fight tests its athletes are subjected to.

MMA combatants undergo annual tests to maintain their licence to fight. And athletic commissions impose post-fight medical suspensions, varying on the degree of damage taken.

"If they take any damage to the head, they're put on a three-month suspension," said White. "These guys are on a three-month medical suspension and cannot return until they're seen by a doctor.

"These guys don't take the damage that NFL players or boxers or guys from the NHL. And guys in the NFL and the NHL can't miss three months. If guys missed three months for a concussion, there'd be no football, there'd be no NHL. That's the difference and this sport is a million times safer than both of them."

But what happens when fighters don't do what they have been told?

English welterweight Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy unwittingly suggested that may be the case in a media conference call this week."

To read the article in its entirety, go here.


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How To Be An MMA Judge, by Nam Phan (Video)

Nam Phan was a competitor on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck show.

On the show's finale, Phan fought Leonard Garcia and lost due to a controversial split decision. In spite of the loss, Phan was still awarded a win bonus by the UFC and the fight earned "Fight of the Night" honors. It also won 2010 Robbery of the Year award by many MMA fans, as most people saw Phan as the winner of the 3 round fight.

Instead of complaining, suing the UFC, blaming the athletic commission, and bringing his mommy with him to court, Nam Phan chose to create the following video, in an effort to school MMA judges and show them what their job is! Enjoy the video:

Now obviously he's just poking fun at MMA judges here, but if you want to get SERIOUS about being an MMA Judge, then head on over to ELITE MMA Judge's Workshop and sign up for the online'll learn the essential skills every licensed judge MUST KNOW, as well as the rules and regulations that make up mixed martial arts so you can call the fight the right way!

And the latest on Nam Phan? A rematch is set for UFC Fight Night: Ortiz vs. Nogueira on March 26, 2011 in Seattle, WA, so Phan will have a chance to prove himself.

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