Yet another judging controversy brewed in the wake of Leonard Garcia’s controversial split decision win over Nam Phan at the TUF 12 Finale on Saturday night.

After having observed many such baffling decisions over the years color commentator Joe Rogan could no longer hold back his frustrations and during the live broadcast on Spike TV urged fans to complain to the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Director Keith Kizer who he felt was to blame for the poor standard of judging seen in the sport.

Keizer was less than happy with Rogan’s interference and fired back at him on the website yesterday.

“If Joe Rogan wants to get on the air and call people names, that’s his business. I’m not going waste my time responding to that.” A clearly annoyed Kizer stated, before ironically continuing to address Rogan’s comments.

“They always say that ‘the UFC has nothing to do with judging.’ Well guess what, they’ve got a big fight coming up in Canada called Koscheck vs. Georges St. Pierre – the UFC and Marc Ratner are flying Tony Weeks up there as a judge. C’mon, Joe. How about some honesty? They’ve taken 90% of our officials with them overseas, as they should. That’s not a knock on Dana [White] and Marc [Ratner]; they know what they’re doing.”

He also aimed some barbs directly at Rogan.

“You get people who love to overreact. Obviously there are people who want to feel superior than others, trash others. Maybe they are full of some self-hate, some self-pity… maybe that’s Rogan’s piece as well.”

The head of NSAC also explained why he would not be over-reacting to what he believes is a knee-jerk reaction to the decision, despite the fact that he admits that he himself scored the fight 30-27 in Phan’s favor.

“There have been judges that we’ve had here who we’ve sent packing. It didn’t work out. Every judge needs to stay sharp, but everyone makes mistakes,” he said, adding later, “You treat it like a batting average. Say that you score the first 11 rounds of a boxing match right and you get the last round wrong. Sure, you should have gotten it 100% right, but you’ve got a 94% batting average and that’s not bad.”

After reading what Kizer had to say Rogan took to the UG forum to deliver his own response as the situation continued to escalate.

“We all know that there’s a big problem with judging in MMA, and we all know that Kizer is pretending that there’s nothing wrong with having a bunch of people with no martial arts training and no understanding of the sport judging it on a professional level.
There’s only one way for me to bring the maximum attention to this issue; and that’s to voice my opinion on air during a live Television show where I know that millions of people are going to listen to it.

I understand that this upset him, but he’s had plenty of time to correct all of these judging issues, and yet he denies there’s a real problem and continues to employ people to judge important fights that are ignorant of many of the details of Mixed Martial Arts.

I also found it quite hilarious that he denies that the NSAC is 100% to blame for this judging situation and even brought up that we’re taking NSAC appointed judges to Canada.
The NSAC for all it’s flaws is the most important ruling body in combat sports. To bring judges that aren’t appointed and approved by the NSAC would open up a whole new can of worms. The question would also come up as to who appoints those other judges?
What is the UFC’s relationship with them?

Kizer is a politician, and one of the biggest issues with him is that he’s not willing to admit that he’s not done the best job possible with the best intentions of the sport and it’s participants in mind. This calculated denial of a problem is the reason why these same judges are turning in bad decisions over and over again. In order for him to correct the problem he’s going to have to admit that he’s been wrong in employing these people, and he’s not willing to do that.

Mixed Martial Arts is a far more complicated sport than boxing, and in order for someone to be educated in the subtle details that are playing out in a fight they have to have some martial arts experience themselves. There are PLENTY of fans out there that would do a far better job than these people that he’s got working for him that have been grandfathered in from the boxing community. To judge MMA on the highest level is a huge honor and responsibility, and should be bestowed upon people that appreciate that honor and appreciate and understand every single aspect of the sport. Anything less than that is an insult to these great athletes that are dedicating their lives to compete in the toughest sport in the world, and an insult to the fans that have to be disappointed with one terrible decision after the next.

Thankfully we live in a time where the fans have an option to get their opinions out there.
I’ve seen all the positive support online, and I urge you guys to keep it up. Please keep up the emails, and keep up the blog posts. The only way this thing is going to change is if the people in charge feel like they have to do something about it to keep their jobs intact.”

Criticism over judging has been a familiar topic in MMA circles for years, but this is the first time it’s really broken out to this extent with two high profile figures arguing in public.

I think it’s a good thing.  Kizer has become a little too comfortable with the status quo and it’s about time somebody rocked the boat, and Rogan seems like a good spokesman for the cause.

While judging in mixed martial arts is never going to be perfect, it’s clear that as it stands there’s a hell of a lot of room for improvement and some of the officials currently presiding over high profile fights are simply not qualified for the job.

I expect Kizer to remain fairly stubborn about the situation, but if the pressure continues to mount it’s going to be difficult for him to continue to turn a blind eye to this.

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Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.


  1. Ye, Joe’s totally spot on here. I hope theres a shake up in the way they pick judges for mma as its a real issue in the sport right now.