ATLANTIC CITY — Mixed martial arts judge Jose Tabora viewed last month’s UFC fight between Clay Guida and Gray Maynard differently than almost everyone else who watched the bout at Revel’s Ovation Hall.
The 4,652 fans reacted to Guida’s hit-and-run strategy by showering the arena with boos over the last three rounds of their five-round lightweight fight. Maynard, who wound up winning by split decision, displayed his anger with obscene gestures.
UFC president Dana White had no problems detailing his displeasure in a news conference after the fight.
“The fight (stunk),” White said. “There’s no other way to describe it. That wasn’t a split decision at all. No one can win a fight like that, running around like that. This isn’t (bleeping) ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ ”
Tabora, an Egg Harbor Township resident and owner of Bullpen Vale Tudo gym, was impressed with Guida’s creativity and gave him a 48-47 edge in the bout. Judges Eric Colon (48-47) and Suzanne Sanidad (48-47) favored Maynard.
“There are three judges and everyone sees things differently,” Tabora said earlier last week at Bullpen Vale Tudo. “I can only go by what I saw and I saw Guida execute a great game plan. I know people want to see blood and knockouts, but Guida’s not stupid. He knew he couldn’t afford to just stand there toe-to-toe with Maynard.
“I thought he ran around too much in the last round or so, but otherwise he fought a smart fight. I laughed when Maynard shot him the finger because that proved (Maynard) was frustrated and was losing the fight. And I didn’t pay any attention to the fans. After two beers, everybody thinks they know MMA.”
Although White disagreed with the scoring on the Guida-Maynard fight, he still had high praise for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, the state’s governing body for combat sports.
Unlike Nevada and some other states, New Jersey has different sets of officials for boxing and MMA. One of White’s biggest gripes is that Las Vegas uses the same judges and referees in both sports.
“That’s a huge problem for us,” White said last month at Revel. “MMA and boxing are two different worlds and there’s no way they should use the same judges and referees. It’s getting to the point where the commissions (that use the same judges and referees) should be embarrassed at some of the stuff that goes on.”
New Jersey Control Board commissioner Aaron Davis and deputy attorney general Nicholas Lembo, who helps oversee MMA in the state, go to great lengths to prevent any overlapping between boxing and MMA.
Not only do they use a separate set of judges and referees, they also rely on different inspectors and even ringside physicians.
“We never use the same officials because they are two completely different sports,” Lembo said last month at Revel. “Inspectors are different because the hand wrapping and gloving is totally different in MMA than in boxing.
“The doctors we use for MMA are able to develop a rapport with the fighters and have learned to recognize problems that can occur in MMA fights that you don’t see in boxing. For example, because the rounds are longer in MMA (five minutes as opposed to three), fighters are more prone to dehydration. They are also more susceptible to orthopedic injuries, not to mention things like skin infections.
“They are different sports and they should be treated that way. The promoters, fans and especially the fighters deserve it.”
Also, all of the judges, referees and inspectors used for last week’s UFC card had martial arts backgrounds.
Tabora was making his debut as a judge in the UFC, but owns a wealth of knowledge and experience with MMA dating back to his days as a street fighter in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A native of Honduras, Tabora came to the United States about 25 years ago. After excelling in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai, he was among the pioneers of MMA. Before the sport became legal in New Jersey and other states in 2001, Tabora fought in underground matches.
“They would put $200, $300 on a table,” Tabora said. “The winner got the money.”
He got his start as a judge by scoring amateur and professional muay thai bouts in New Jersey, then moved over to MMA and worked events for other organizations such as Bellator and Ring of Combat.
Atlantic City native Gasper Oliver served as the referee for two of the undercard fights.
Oliver, a former wrestler for Atlantic City High School, once dreamed of fighting in the UFC. He compiled a 5-0 amateur record before knee injuries forced him to stop. The 43-year-old began training to be a referee about two years ago by working amateur shows before moving up to smaller pro shows last year. He since has presided over some championship fights for both Bellator and Ring of Combat.
The Revel fight card also was his UFC debut and he responded with a solid performance. Oliver drew praise for his decision to halt a welterweight fight between Matt Brown and Luis Ramos and award Brown a second-round TKO victory.
“I’d like to think I’m a better referee now than when I first started because of the experience,” Oliver said in a phone interview. “We all make mistakes, but I’m getting closer to being at the top of my game. I was very excited to get that opportunity (to work a UFC card).”
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