Many questions have arisen on how to interpret MMA's unified rules. One of the most respected, knowledgeable, and experienced players in the MMA game is "Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board", Nick Lembo, who also played a key role in the development and institution of the unified rules in 2001.
In the interview with Mr. Lembo below, we address topics such as how a takedown is intended to be scored, how avoiding a takedown compares to being successful with one (since each technique is listed under the effective grappling category), our opinions on how the Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight and round one of Javi Vasquez vs. Chad Mendes was scored, and several other random musings on the state of modern day judging in the sport of mixed martial arts.
DW: Give me your personal report card on the current state of MMA judging in America?
NL: I can say that I am pretty happy with the state of MMA judging in New Jersey. I believe that the key to building better judges in this new sport is to start them in a commission-run amateur program and monitor their progress at each event. They are then afforded the opportunity to "shadow judge" at professional events while also being provided with seminars and discussion topics via e-mail.
I believe that if commissions get more involved in their amateur programs, they will develop better judges. I still firmly believe that you need a background in martial arts, preferably submission grappling and Muay Thai, and that you should not utilize boxing judges.
DW: Since I had some strong feelings on the decision, how did you score the Bader vs. Nogueira fight from UFC 119?
NL: As a fan watching on television, I scored round one for Bader 10-9, round two 10-10, and round three 10-9 for Nogueira. It was a close fight in the second and third rounds.