State approves video monitors for UFC judges

The Nevada Athletic Commission has unanimously approved the use of 7-inch individual LCD video monitors for judges at Ultimate Fighting Championship events, beginning with UFC 130 on May 28 at the MGM Grand.

All five members of the commission voted to approve the organization’s petition to allow use of the monitors after a brief discussion during a meeting on Friday.

The monitors already have been in place for three UFC events in California and have been approved for use at UFC 131 in Vancouver next month and in Pennsylvania for events in June and August.

“The purpose is to address the limited circumstances where a judge may have his direct line of vision on a fight impaired or impacted in any way either because the referee is in the way or the combatants are in a certain part of the (cage) where they may find it straining to view the activity,” UFC attorney Michael Mersch said at the hearing.

Previously, judges could turn their focus to the live video feed on the big screens throughout the arena when their view of the live action was obstructed, but the individual monitors, which will be attached to a movable arm for adjustment by each judge, can be positioned more in their line of sight to the live action.

“That’s important, as opposed to a fixed monitor where you’re looking up and looking down,” NAC executive director Keith Kizer said. “You need to have that live action always in your sight, either direct or peripheral, and they’ve really worked hard in the last year to fix that.”

The monitors also can be easily pushed aside by any judge who finds them unnecessary or distracting.

There will be no audio component to the feed provided to the judges, so as not to allow the broadcast team’s words to unduly influence how the judges view a fight. Monitors also will be cut off during breaks so that judges will not be able to see replays of action in the cage.

“It’s just another tool that if they choose to utilize they can,” Mersch said. “Technology has evolved to the point where, at least with our productions, we have the ability to put these there, and if it can help assist with the quality of judging in any way shape or form, we certainly want to provide that.”

The UFC will provide the equipment and, for now, the monitors only will be used for UFC events in the state. The organization will incur all costs associated with the implementation of the technology.

Kizer said UFC officials first brought the idea to his attention about a year ago. He hoped the idea could be experimented with on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but because those fights are not aired live, testing of the system was not possible.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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