Ah, the Garden State. For all the crap that it takes, New Jersey is a great place to call home.
It's also a great place to catch a UFC fight. Indeed, the UFC made a name for itself on the boardwalk of Atlantic City.
Back in 2000, the UFC made its Jersey debut with UFC 28: High Stakes, which featured the heavyweight championship bout between Randy Couture and Kevin Randleman. Couture won the tilt via technical knockout in round three and became the first fighter to capture the UFC heavyweight title two different times.
While the feat is significant and important to the history books of the UFC, New Jersey means more to the sport of mixed martial arts than just the host of a few great events. I'm not going to go into specifics, because Ivan Trembow has already done that much better than I ever could.
All I'm going to say is that we can thank the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board for setting up the rules and regulations that govern mixed martial arts here in the United States.
So, it comes as no surprise the regulatory body is once again pioneering a new MMA wrinkle:
Honestly, when I first read the headline all I could picture were trainers sitting ringside clutching red flags, waiting to heave them into the Octagon once something funny happened to one of their fighters.
Not the case.
Here's the skinny from MMAWeekly.com:
In a statement released by the State Athletic Control Board, instant replay is allowed effective immediately for all regulated mixed martial arts, professional boxing, and kickboxing contests.
Though competitors currently have a process by which they can appeal a decision made by a referee in New Jersey, that process does not take place until well after the bout has taken place. With instant replay, the state hopes to "allow the Commissioner's review to commence in a more timely fashion, namely, on the night of the bout itself."
Instant replay, according to New Jersey, would allow the Commissioner to review certain issues on the spot, such as:
– a knockdown versus a slip
– accidental versus intentional fouls
– if a cut was the result of a legal strike
– if a fighter beat the count
– low blows
– whether or not a strike landed before the bell rang
According to the statement, "The Commissioner, if approached during a round by the contestant's chief second, would review the issue at the end of the round. The bout would be temporarily stopped during the rest period and the Commissioner would have a maximum of three minutes to render a decision or choose to reserve his judgment because further review is needed. Upon the Commissioner's ruling, the bout would then be restarted and would continue."
Okay, so it's not the NFL. But, I can't say I'm too stoked about the prospect of fights being stopped so the commish can go "under the hood" to review a questionable call.
The one item on this list that appears to belong is the knockdown versus a slip. All of the others should be determined by the "Man in Charge of the Octagon." And if he Herb Dean, er, he can't get it right, then put a few extra judges upstairs and ringside -- let them chat between rounds and resolve any disputes.
I hope this is one of those features that are there, but are never used — a vestigial MMA tool, if you will.
I'm not sure how the Zuffa, UFC fighters or the MMA community feel on the issue, but if you ask me, New Jersey should have just quite while it was ahead.