Third Coast Grappling‘s fifth Kumite event took place on August 8 and an otherwise exciting night was marred by the lack of an elite referee. The 170 lbs tournament was set to be a fantastic night with a number of young and hungry high-level grapplers competing for a $10,000 prize. Roberto Jimenez, Renato Canuto, Johnny Tama, Oliver Taza, Vitor Oliveira, Hugo Marques, and both Tye and Kade Ruotolo were all eager to prove themselves and take home the money.
The promotion employed three referees for the night and the mistakes made were frequent throughout the event. There seemed to be little consistency as to how the resets were applied, competitors going out of bounds were either reset in the same position, or reset to a standing position. While this may not seem like a drastic error, any competitor will tell you that being reset in the same position or in a standing position can dramatically change the course of the match.
There were also several instances of points being awarded by the referee, only for them to then be deducted again by the same referee or a sideline official. Again, while that might not appear too bad on the face of it, competitors going into the final seconds of a match unsure of the points difference between them is a recipe for disaster. The night’s most defining mistake happened during the golden score period of the final match between Roberto Jimenez and Tye Ruotolo.
Jimenez shot in for a takedown and Ruotolo briefly attempted a Guillotine choke as a counter. As Ruotolo let go of the choke, he used butterfly hooks to elevate Jimenez and escape to standing, being held on the ground for approximately two seconds between the moment he relinquished the choke and the moment he escaped the position. Under most BJJ tournament rules, this would not have earned anyone points for the takedown. The match was then called in Jimenez’s favor, only for Andre Galvao (Ruotolo’s coach) to protest the decision as a referee error. After reviewing the footage, event organisers decided to overturn the decision and rule the match a No Contest, although Jimenez will keep the money he earned as the controversy was no fault of his own.
It is worth noting that Third Coast Grappling has had the same three referees for all four previous Kumite events and no errors were made. Their fifth event does show however that if you want elite competitors and a guaranteed controversy-free night, you need to give them an elite referee.
Third Coast Grappling made the following statement immediately after the night’s events:
Although they also released an update shortly afterward, that seemed to change the promotion’s position slightly:
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