MMA Quick Quote: MMA referees need fight experience before getting a gig

Ronda Rousey gets a hug from 'Judo' Gene LeBell at the Hayastan MMA Academy in North Hollywood, CA. Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer) via Daily News Los Angeles

"I have a beef with judging and refereeing. To me, I don't think you should ever be able to judge or referee unless you have a physical background in that art. I'm a big fan of professional football, but I'm not qualified to be a judge. In MMA, it's the flavor of the month and everyone wants to be a judge or a referee. I see a lot of referees that could use a little bit more instruction. I think it should be mandatory for these judges to go to Mauy Thai schools, go to Judo schools, go to Greco Roman schools, go to freestyle wrestling schools, Kempo, Shotokan, Taekwondo, all those schools and learn a little bit of everything. You want to know if a body slam hurts more than a left hook and how much damage can something get? You have to be on the mat or in the ring to know the difference. It's my humble opinion."

-- Judo master Gene LeBell knows a thing or two about combat sports, known for his time in the pro wrestling circuit with National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and teaching hand-to-hand combat and the art of grappling to legends such as Roddy Piper, Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Karo Parisyan and woman's Strikeforce Bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey. LeBell also participated in the first-ever boxing vs. mixed martial arts (MMA) fight as he took on pro boxer Milo Savage in 1963. "Judo" went on to defeat Savage by choking him out in the fourth round. He also serves as an MMA judge on the local circuit, so it comes to no surprise that he has a "beef" with today's MMA judging and officiating as he said on his appearance today on "The MMA Hour". "Judo" feels that all people looking to become a judge or referee a professional MMA fight should have some kind of background of actually fighting in the sport. With so many late and early stoppages and questionable decisions that are a cause for controversy, perhaps athletic commissions may take "Judo's" suggestion to heart. What do you think, should it be a prerequisite to have a background in fighting before you can be allowed to referee or judge the sport?

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