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MMA needs better athletic commission


July 29, 2014

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Correction: Due to copy editing errors, this column claimed that the NSAC "should hold authority over something they do not understand" and "make decisions like this on a case-by-case basis." The column has been corrected to say the NSAC "should not hold authority" and "should make judgments on a case-by-case basis." The editor apologizes for errors that occurred during the copy editing process and hopes to avoid similar lapses in the future.    

    The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) keeps reminding me how bad of a comission it really is. Their biggest failure is to address the issue of judging and refereeing in the sport of MMA (mixed martial arts). You have referees who make horrible calls time and time again and somehow keep their jobs. The judging is even worse: it never fails that if a fight ends up going the distance and the judges have to render a decision, nine times out of 10 they get it wrong.
    The problem is that this commission was set up during the golden age of boxing and is ill-suited to regulate a sport that is so different. Boxing is a one-dimensional scoring match: the fights stay on the feet and the judges count effective punches and ring control. MMA is completely different. The fight can end up staying on the feet for three rounds or on the ground or anywhere in between. The judges have absolutely no idea how to score this. They haven’t been prepared for this sport and should not hold authority over something they do not understand.
    Recently they banned the use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) for all athletes, with pretty much every other fighting commission around the world following suit immediately afterward. This is one of the commission's many blunders that have been going on for some time now.
    Of course, the ban was instituted because many fighters were abusing it to get an edge over their opponents. Fighters such as Allistair Overeem, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva were some of the biggest names at the forefront of the controversy.
    Here lies the problem, though: some people actually need TRT for legitimate medical purposes. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva may have his career ended because he needs TRT to treat a rare disorder called acromegaly, which causes a tumor on the pituitary gland. It is the same disorder that afflicted Andre The Giant, and it ended up killing him because he refused to be treated.
    The NSAC should make judgments like this on a case-by-case basis instead of making a sweeping rule that could affect fighter’s livelihoods. They have made ridiculous decisions like this one time and time again, and it’s usually because they don’t understand the issue. The NSAC needs to start taking the sport of MMA more seriously, train their judges and referees and do the job right if they are going to do it at all. The MMA community needs a commission to be a legit sport, but having a commission this hopeless hurts the sport more than it helps it.


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