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Referee Marc Goddard Explains his Close Involvement in Grant vs. Vera

Matthew Wells

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UFC Fight Night London certainly had its unique moments.

One of which was referee Marc Goddard’s very vocal involvement in the fight between Davey Grant and Marlon Vera. Eventually taking points away from Vera, who was repeatedly grasping the inside of his opponent’s glove for added leverage, Goddard was clearly heard giving multiple warnings to Vera before and after taking a point away from the fighter. Even at the conclusion of the bout, Goddard continued to have a conversation with Vera about his actions throughout the fight.

Marc wrote a lengthy post on his Facebook account to break down his thoughts and explain his feelings about why he was so adamant during the fight:

I’ve never really committed to a word-press/blog/website update type scenario before as in truth I just never felt the need to but the unsettling angst inside me compelled and urged me to at least offer something. Please fell free to copy and distribute as you may wish and as always I welcome all comments. Maybe its against my own better judgment, probably, do I write this – its not that I don’t really want to it’s that I‘ve tried this before. My apologies in advance for the lengthy content but it do hope that in the long run you find it useful – and without cliché to enhance your viewing of future bouts.

I’ve tried to give an insight, I’ve tried to give an education, I’ve tried to give an explanation to offer some sort of balance and understanding into our world. I viewed it as some sort of personal fulfillment and responsibility. Giving back to the sport that has given me so much? Who, what, where and why we do what we do sometimes. But I’ve found the effect much like pouring a glass of milk into a swimming pool. A growing cloud with clear visible effect – quickly dissipated, absorbed and lost to the surrounding mass. Totally engulfed and washed away [quickly] without any prior visible trace. Its why I decided a few years ago not to offer public interaction and explanation – instead I concentrated my efforts on those that where willingly attending to listen to the betterment of the sport, it’s officials and the training thereof. It’s an unrealistic notion to expect the fans and spectators of any sport to know an officials role – it’s simply not their job but in offering an insight I could at least rest a little easier knowing that I contributed to at least trying to bridge the gap.

Sometimes we have a clearer path on our evening’s journeys, sometimes we are totally engulfed and immersed start to finish and leave feeling mentally exhausted – it’s a lottery in terms of expectancy, never replicated. On the contrary to others belief when I referee I don’t want to talk, ever. I never want to hear the sound of my own voice. All I want to say is the words “lets do this” and “stop” 3 or 5 times per fight. That is all I ever want. I have reffed so many unbelievable bouts the World over and remained anonymous in doing so time after time and that is a referees utopia – believe me because the reality of our job is – when you do your job, just your job, what you are paid to do then people don’t talk shit about you. And I am totally at peace and acceptance with that. Just for a moment – apply that same thought process to your daily work. Interesting no?

I have had the honour of being the man in the middle for so many fight of the year candidates and winners – Aldo Mendes 2 in Brazil, Condit Hendricks in Canada, Stann v Silva in Japan to name but a few – very few, even die hard fans could tell you that I was the referee for these bouts. Utopia indeed. “The best referees are the ones you don’t see and hear” I couldn’t agree more. But what people fail to realize is that end goal simply does not lie in the hands of the referee entirely. Two fighters enter, fight within the confines of the rules and leave after 15 or 25 minutes I guarantee you that I you will never hear me or any other referee of note and experience exceed the “start/stop” max word count rationale. This I will promise you. But what happens when those said confines are breached? What happens when our personal preference max word count has to be broken? We have to speak, it’s our job and now just like every step movement, position and action – the same close scrutiny can now be placed upon what you say and how you say it.

I had a very interesting and action filled evening when working last night at UFC London – in particular the bout between Marlon Vera and Davey Grant. I start the fight in my normal fashion and true to form with my sole intention on my next word being “stop” exactly 5 minutes later. At a point in that first round you will hear me warn Vera for holding the fence, short concise and in normal fashion. Grant also communicated to me before my first intervention that his glove [fingers inside the cuff] was being held but I can only react to what I see. You will then see me stop the action when Vera was on his back and Grant stood in his guard for the same finger in cuff glove holding Grant was signifying to me earlier. Only this time I did see. I do not stand the fighter [Vera] up as that would be of detriment to the standing fighter who was not committing the foul – instead I issue my warning and allow the fight to continue.

In the second round you will hear me interject again – as the same fingers in cuff process happened once more, this when I decided to stand the fighters at the same point anyway. So now that’s three warning within one and half rounds [on top of my pleading in between rounds]. People remark upon my tone at times – please think of this. It’s a fight, in an arena, with 16,000 people. It’s not a doctors waiting room. When a fighter may not be taking note of your prior warnings your natural instinct may be to escalate your tone – its called authority, I’m a referee – not a mother. I’m there to be listened to and obeyed [only when prompted to speak] and at times my tone and message will be stern. That’s my job. We move to the third round and for the third time in three consecutive rounds the same foul was committed. My verbal call out of the point deduction was again in the same fashion of referees talking during fights – we only want to break the action and alter the potential flow of the fight when absolutely necessary – so when the top fighter is the one being fouled stopping them, standing them up, issuing the warning again and deducting the point is the wrong course of action as any experienced referee would agree.

A couple of points of note – people commentated on me asking for the translator at the end of round two. This was a deliberate act out of consideration for the TV and watching audience as I didn’t want anyone to think that Vera was at a disadvantage from my communications – he wasn’t as he understands, spoke and speaks great English just as we did between each other in the dressing room in my fighter meeting rule debrief before the fights began. It was a consideration call I was making. People also remarked again about my stern tone and my comment of “I’m in charge” again back to the repeated warnings issues, it’s a fight, its loud, and prior warnings are not being adhered to – remember I’m a referee! :)

People often ask “what is the role of a ref”? and “what do you actually do”? and I tell them – its simple, I travel the world to get shouted at! you may have heard me refer to the fact about referees often being damned if they do, damned if they don’t and in super charged atmospheres like last night with multiple interventions of a referee being called upon it provides a great example, discussion and learning point. What if I had chose to not act upon repeated fouls, what if the same action led to an arm being dragged back in for a fight ending submission, what if the same repeated fouls went unpunished and said fighter had won a super close razor thin decision? What if that had happened? What position/discussions would I find myself in today?

And now the part that no one sees, that no camera picks up. The young man in question Mr Vera approached me after the fight backstage to apologize for his conduct and that I had to act. I tell him that he doesn’t have to – as I certainly don’t need one, I certainly don’t expect one, all I want is this talented young man to think, be more considered in his approach and allow his skills to give him the fairest possible outcome in his fights. He accepts and we shake hands and my heart goes out to him as I recognize so much. The actual acts he was committing can be instinctual form years or training in a Gi – gripping and holding “something” and I recognize this but I am forced to act when a repeated warning [not a single act] are not adhered to. Its not always so clear as signifying the “intent” in “intentional” !

I hope that you found this useful, helpful or insightful in some way. I hope that I can update or offer such insights once more – but I do contribute and write on a regular basis for Fighters Only magazine where such instances are broken down in detail. Remember we are humans, I strive for perfection and aim for it every single time. The need for improvement and review remains constant and believe me there is not a harsher critique in this world of me than myself! Again my apologies for the lengthy content but I hope that you can appreciate, and its every day! :)

My closing words are of thanks to both Mr Vera and Mr Grant for a fast paced action packed and exciting fight totally regardless of any interjections that I had to make. That was a super display of modern day mixed martial arts. I look forward to you both excelling in your forthcoming careers.

Many thanks.

 


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage, and more, follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Announcement

Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219

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From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game. 

Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.

The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.

After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.

“Those insights are covering entire aspects  of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“

Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”

He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”

As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed,  force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.

The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).

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Interviews

[Exclusive] Demarte Pena talks rematch with Sayed at EFC 66 and coaching on the “The Fighter”

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EFC 66: The Fighter 1 Finale is only two days away now in what is expected to be a historic night for the promotion as they round off their first season of the reality show “The Fighter”. In the finale fighting for a shot at the title and 500,000 rand is Brendan Lesar and Ibrahim Mané. Topping the card though is the rematch between Demarte Pena and Irshaad Sayed fight for the bantamweight strap. In their last fight, Pena walked away with the decision win, however, it was later ruled a no contest after Pena failed a drug test as a result of a tainted supplement.

Demarte Pena comes into this fight determined to take that win and is confident it will be easier than the last. Having worked hard on his overall game, in particular, his boxing, we could see a somewhat different approach to this fight.

“Yeah, the first fight I controlled the fight really well, used my kicks kept the distance and took him down when I wanted to. But for this fight, I’ve improved a lot, especially my boxing, I’ve been boxing a lot, with professional boxers that are both African and World Champions. So I feel that my hands will be a lot better for this fight, I’ll be able to use them a lot better. And I truly believe this fight will much easier for me in terms of stand up and if it goes to the ground obviously I’ll be better than him.”

Following the tainted supplement issue, Sayed has recently been vocal about wanting to see a positive test prior to the fight. Pena did not hesitate in mentioning how he has been tested numerous times leading up to this fight.

“The last time I remember Sayed was just a fighter and he doesn’t work for WADA or SAIDS, so he might just do his job, those people are doing their job. I’ve been tested multiple times so I feel that fighters should just fight and stop worrying about other people’s jobs.”

The Fighter 1 will officially come to an end this weekend, looking back on the show, Pena described the difficulties he experienced at first but quickly grew to like the coaching aspect of the despite it being time-consuming. His overall view of it being very positive.

“Y’know coaching was very cool, at first it was, hard because I train very hard throughout the day and my time was taken up during the show. I didn’t like that as much, but after some time I started to enjoy more. In the beginning, it wasn’t as nice but the exposure was great for me and that it was going to be ultimately something good. After a while, I got to know the guys and they’re really cool guys, I made a few friends on the show so overall it was great”

The opposing team coach was, of course, Irshaad Sayed, who did a lot of talking throughout the season, something that Pena anticipated so it didn’t faze him.

“With him there as a coach I knew he was going to talk a lot, but it is what is, it’s tough sport you just gotta take the shots and give them as well”

A member of Pena’s team, Will Fleury, was tipped to do great things in the competition but was removed early after receiving numerous illegal blows to the head. Demarte agreed with many stating that the fight should have been clearly ruled a disqualification.

“Yeah, the Will Fleury incident was right in front of our corner, I do feel that Shaw should have been disqualified because those shots were illegal but I think EFC only made that decision because Will couldn’t fight anymore. In an ideal world, Shaw should have been disqualified for sure.”

Despite Fleury missing out on a chance at reaching the final, Ibrahim Mané, who was on the same team on the show made it to the final. Pena spoke highly of him as he enters the fight Saturday, believing that if the fight is kept standing it’s Mané’s fight.

“I have trained with Ibrahim for the past two weeks, he’s an extremely talented athlete, very explosive, very strong with very good cardio but he does have a disadvantage on the ground. If he gets taken down him to ground, Brendan will have the advantage.”

Confident he’ll get the win once again on Saturday, Pena is looking for bigger things having accomplished everything he can in the EFC. The UFC being mentioned as what could be on the cards moving forward.

“After I beat Sayed, there’ll be nothing more for me to do in EFC I feel that I have done everything. Yeah, definitely I think the next is to try and fight in the UFC or any other big promotion.”

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Interviews

UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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