by Mike Dolce for MMAWeekly.com

Vanilla or Chocolate

or Chocolate?


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


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?  


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 wellbeing?  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?


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 resume 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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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. 


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.”


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 to learn about “The DOLCE Diet,” go to