Friday, May 20, 2011 | 1:47 p.m.
The UFC received approval Friday from the Nevada State Athletic Commission to equip judges scoring its mixed martial arts fights with a 7-inch LCD monitor to assist in evaluating the action when their sight is hindered.
The commission unanimously approved this technology, which will debut next Saturday during UFC 130 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The judges’ sight line is occasionally limited when the action is on the ground, in certain corners of the octagon or when the referee is in the way.
The monitor, which has been used in California and is approved for events this summer in Vancouver and Pennsylvania, will be controlled by a movable arm and be positioned directly in front of the judge.
Judges won’t be required to use the monitor, which can easily be pushed to the side. Additionally, the monitor will have no sound, replay ability and will go dark between rounds or during stoppages.
The same feed that is shown on six to eight big screens throughout the arena will be on the monitors. Judges frequently use the big screens.
“If it helps the judging in any way, shape or form, we certainly want to provide that,” said Michael Mersch, a lawyer for UFC parent company, Zuffa, who represented the league at the commission meeting.
When the commission initially sanctioned MMA in 2001, it required multiple big screens showing the fight in the arena partially to aid judges, said Keith Kizer, the commission’s executive director.
Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice president of regulatory affairs, was one of the UFC officials who approached Kizer about a year ago with the monitor idea.
It took engineers awhile to work out some kinks before testing during a California event, and after even more glitches were fixed, the UFC felt confident proposing it to the commission. The monitors were designed and paid for by the UFC.
“I call it another tool to advance the science of judging,” Ratner said.
The direct sight line into the octagon will obviously be the preferred way to view the fight. But, when that view becomes blocked, there is now another option.
“The technology will be a utility exactly the same way of the stadium board that is already there,” Mersch said.
Added Commission Chairman Bill Brady, “This is just UFC being cutting edge again.”