PRIDE Judge Matt Hume Defends Nog vs Ricco Decision

Sep 3, 2003
From Dream Stage Entertainment
Reprinted with Permission

LOS ANGELES, California – On August 10, 2003, Dream Stage Entertainment held its most recent event, TOTAL ELIMINATION, which we sincerely hope our fans enjoyed.

In the aftermath of the show, one of the most talked about fights was the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira/Ricco Rodriguez match. There was an overwhelming amount of fan emails and internet discussions regarding the unanimous decision awarded to Nogueira.

Because of this, DSE has decided to explain exactly why Nogueira was awarded the decision when so many fans believed Rodriguez won the match.

First, what must be understood is that DSE has no bias for or against UFC fighters. Whoever wins the match, wins the match, regardless of organization. However, when competing in Pride FC, matches are judged according to our criteria. This system of judging has been in place for more than two years and is constantly improved upon in attempts to bring fans the most exciting matches possible. The rules and judging criteria are always made clear to the fighters during a meeting (prior to the event), so that all competitors are aware on how the matches will be judged.

One of the regular judges at Pride FC is Mr. Matt Hume. Many know him as a fighter, trainer, and manager … all in all, he is well respected and known in our industry. Mr. Hume was one of the judges during TOTAL ELIMINATION and on behalf of all three judges from that event, he has taken the time to explain how and why Nogueira was awarded a unanimous decision.

In addition, this explanation was also cleared by Pride FC’s Rules Director, Yuji Shimata, who oversees all judges and referees.

Pride FC Judging Criteria and the Nogueira-Rodriguez Match
By Matt Hume

The judging system used in Pride FC has been developed and refined by experts in the industry over the course of the event’s entire existence. The philosophy behind the criteria is to encourage the fighters to finish the fight. We believe this creates the most exciting fight for the fans and rewards the fighter who is making the necessary effort.

The criteria is as follows:

1. Effort to finish the fight by KO or submission
2. Damage
3. Standing combinations and ground control
4. Takedowns and defense
5. Aggressiveness
6. Weight differences (15 Kilos or more at heavyweight) (10K at middleweight)

These criteria are in order of priority or importance. They are considered in descending order if a fight goes to a decision.

1. Effort to finish by KO or submission:
Fighters who are striking with force and intention that may result in a KO will be awarded in this criteria, that applies both standing and on the ground. “Catch” or near submissions, as well as multiple attempts will score in this criteria.
2. Damage:
Any strike that does damage or accumulations of strikes that result in damage are awarded here. Damage may be visible such as a cut or bruised leg, or it may be shown by an opponent’s reaction to a strike such as favoring a leg that has been kicked or turning away from a body shot. A near submission may also result in damage points.
3. Standing combinations and ground control:
When a fighter lands a skillful combination of strikes while standing, they are awarded this criteria. Ground control is awarded by achieving dominant positions and holding them. Dominant positions are side control, mount, back mount with hooks, knee ride, and north-south. Neutral positions are standing and in guard. Fighters are encouraged to strive for dominant position throughout the fight.
4. Takedown and defense:
A skillfully executed takedown will score in this category, repeatedly stopping your opponent’s takedown will also score in this category. Multiple takedowns, even if not executed skillfully will also score here.
5. Aggressiveness:
The fighter who is pressing the action while standing, seeking dominant position on the ground and working to finish the match, will score here.
6. Weight difference:
If a fighter is more than 15 Kilos lighter at heavyweight or 10 Kilos at middleweight, then he will be given an advantage here. This is only taken into consideration when the higher criteria are even.

Negative points – yellow cards:
When the fighters are fighting as demanded by the criteria, there is no need for interference from referees or judges. However, when a fighter is not fighting in this manner, then he may receive a yellow card penalty. The fighters are encouraged to engage and strike or attempt takedowns when standing, by the referee’s command of “action.” When on the ground, fighters are encouraged to seek dominant positions, forced reversals or return to the feet by the referee’s command of “improve position.” When in a dominant position, a fighter is encouraged to finish by effective striking or submission by the referee’s command of “work to finish.” If either fighter does not obey the command and actively seek dominant positions and finishes, they may receive a yellow card, which will result in a negative point deduction. Any intentional fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct may also result in a yellow card and negative point.

Let’s take a look at the recent match between Nogueira and Rodriguez to better understand the criteria:

1. Effort to finish by KO or submission:
Nogueira wins by a large margin due to his multiple submission attempts and active attack. Based on this, there is no reason to consider any further criteria as they are in descending order, however, for educational purposes we will continue.
2. Damage:
No damage from striking by either party. Possible damage from deep Kimura in round 3 by Nogueira, however, no award given to either.
3. Standing combinations and ground control:
Neither fighter showed superiority in standing skill. Nogueira dominated ground control as he constantly went for submission and gave away neutral position for inferior position, yet he was able to move back to neutral position with relative ease each time. Nogueira also had a forced reversal. Rodriguez had a reversal while Nogueira was passing guard. Forced reversals are more difficult to achieve and more valuable for ground control. Rodriguez was warned many times throughout the match to improve position but chose to stay in neutral guard without damaging strikes or attempts to pass to dominant position.
4. Takedown and defense:
Nogueira scored one clean takedown and defended 2 times. Ricco scored 3 Takedowns. Ricco wins this criteria.
5. Aggressiveness:
Nogueira wins by a large margin due to his many attempts at submission and his forward progression while striking. The referee warned Ricco many times in this area, but did not award a yellow card penalty.
6. Weight difference:
N/A. Ricco had a sizeable weight advantage but was not more than 15 kilos.

Penalties: No penalties were given although Ricco had many warnings to improve position.

Decision: Nogueira

Pride FC’s judging criteria requires an intimate knowledge in all areas of fighting. Pride’s judges are diverse and experienced in these areas and constantly strive to improve their knowledge. Additionally, Pride FC officials review the bouts and system on an ongoing basis to continually evolve and improve the system when appropriate. It is our desire that as we grow in our knowledge that we would also provide opportunity for the fans to become better educated with the intricacies of fighting. We hope that this piece has been helpful in that process. Look for more video educational pieces to come in the upcoming pay per view installments of Pride FC. Thank you for your support of Pride FC and the MMA community.

Best regards,

Matt Hume,

Official Judge, Pride FC
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