Review of the UKMMAF Judges Course

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On Sunday September 6th 2015 the UKMMAF launched its first judges course for MMA and I paid my fee in order to see firsthand what the UKMMAF are doing.

This judges course is fresh on the heels of the acclaimed referees course that now has international recognition, and the UKMMAF have high hopes that further federations will adopt it.

“These courses are important steps in creating a true governing body for the sport in the UK. They provide standardised guidelines and training that will create a body of officials who have been assessed, educated and given a clear pathway of progression to be able to practice their craft at the highest levels.”

Again, like the referee course before it, the judges course was attended by many longstanding names in UKMMA. Officials who have worked at the top promotions in the sport (including the UFC), promoters, coaches, competitors, and those who had experience as the referee but never as a judge, it was a diverse mixture of MMA knowledge and experience.

This course is geared primarily towards the UKMMAF’s class C status and encompassed a grounding in the unified rule set, a deconstruction of the judging criteria and terminology, a thorough examination of the scoring criteria for the 10-10, 10-8 and 10-7 rounds, we also covered the permutations of ‘technical decisions’, we formulated ways to record the details of the round in order to justify our scoring process, there was practical judging, and finally an exam. The content was detailed and provided ample opportunity for discussion, questioning and debate.

Having done a prior seminar on MMA Officiating and now having been on the UKMMAF’s Judges Course it is pleasing to see that the two disciplines have been separated as they require very different bought processes and skill sets. This is not to disparage the first seminar which serves as an excellent insight into MMA officiating but did not offer as much specialism or detail. The UKMMAF also offers a clear path of progression for successful candidates, and the contacts to be able to progress.

It did surprise me that not as many coaches or fighters took the opportunity to attend, as it seems logical that in order to boost performance having a crystal clear understanding of the judging and scoring criteria can mean the difference between winning and losing a fight. It was impressed upon the cohort that as you progress through the ranks the stakes riding on each fight for the athlete grow, and surely they (indeed all fighters) deserve competent, qualified, professional officials to oversee the contest.

For those involved in UKMMA it seems more and more that now is the time to embrace what the UKMMAF are doing for the sport. It is no fluke that the European Amateur Competition will take place in Birmingham in November, and with the continued growth of the IMMAF and the World Amateur tournament and the continued growth of national federations it makes sense to keep the UK at the forefront.

Whether or not the UKMMAF can deliver as quickly as they would like to remains to be seen, however, there is little doubt that the UKMMAF are further legitimising themselves and the sport one step at a time.

By @SteveCA_MMA

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.