Former UFC, PRIDE and Pancrase fighter Ricardo Almeida will make his major-event debut as a judge at Saturday night's UFC on FOX 3 card at the Izod Center in E. Rutherford, N.J.And UFC president Dana White hopes Almeida will start a trend.
Speaking to reporters Thursday at the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the UFC boss said that having those who have experienced what it's like to be in a fight would be ideally suited to take MMA officiating to the next level.
"I would like to see the fighters ref and judge," said White. "It makes all the sense in the world."
He used the man he considers the best referee in the business, Herb Dean, as an example. Dean has several pro MMA fights to his credit.
"The guy trains, he knows the sport," White said. "You see guys out there like [Steve] Mazzagatti, he's sitting there, he's thinking, ‘I gotta get some milk and eggs after the fight.' I don't know what the [expletive] this guy's looking at, what he's thinking. Meanwhile this fighter's getting elbows dropped on his [expletive] head for 2 1/2 minutes, the fight should have been stopped 2 1/2 minutes ago. Herb Dean knows what its like to have an elbow dropped on your head."
There would, of course, be potential conflict-of-interest issues to deal with when former fighters become officials. Almeida, who is slated to judge the Josh Koscheck-Johny Hendricks co-feature bout Saturday, won't be judging any fighters with whom he trains, for example. But as far as White is concerned, the positives of involving former fighters outweigh such potential negatives.
"This isn't like other sports," said White. "You have a bad call in a baseball game and they have 100 more games left. You make a bad call in this sport and it affects his entire career."