London: International Mixed Martial Arts Federation judges, Vito Paolillo (Italy) and Clemens Werner (Germany), have made their officiating debut with the premier, professional MMA league of UFC for the series of historic events now taking place at UFC Fight Island.
“Due to the coronavirus, we have had to go through two forty-eight-hour quarantines and several COVID tests. The UFC is setting the highest standards in the MMA world by providing a safe environment for MMA contests,” commented Werner.
Under the tutelage of world-renowned referee and IMMAF Director of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Goddard, the two IMMAF alumni have honed their knowledge and experience through the international governing body’s progression pathway for officials since 2015.
Having certified on IMMAF Judges and Referees Courses, Werner has gone on to judge 1500 bouts while Paolillo says he has lost count! The IMMAF World Championships famously features more than 500 matches in 5 days, attended by up to 100 IMMAF licensed officials. To be eligible to work at IMMAF Championships, officials must continue to renew their licenses through ongoing professional education.
Vito Paolillo said: “Being part of this historic event has been a great honour for me and a dream come true in my career as MMA Official. The treatment we are receiving is something unprecedented. The organisational level is outstanding, and you can really see why the UFC is the only organization in the world to be able to pull this off, not only among MMA promotions, but across sport. It being my first experience as a Judge in the UFC, my colleagues here, who are among the world’s best MMA Officials, have asked if I am feeling pressure at this level. But thanks to my five years of IMMAF experience, I don’t feel anxiety. IMMAF has provided the best training for anyone wanting to work in professional MMA, starting with the course through to a series of events that lets you accumulate in a year the experience that most people take a lifetime to achieve, through IMMAF’s five-day tournament format that sees up to one hundred fights in one day. The IMMAF platform has proved the best way to be noticed and receive calls from top professional promotions, such as Brave FC, FightNight Global and KSW, culminating in my UFC selection. I want to thank UFC, Marc Goddard and IMMAF for this opportunity and I feel really blessed to be a part of UFC Fight Island.”
Clemens Werner commented: “I am grateful to be one of a few officials to work at these historical Fight Island events. At the current time with the corona restrictions inhibiting most of national and international shows, it is a privilege to be able to follow my passion to judge, and better than that, to judge four UFC shows within three weeks. IMMAF paved the way for my development as an official. In addition to what I learnt on the IMMAF Officials Course with Marc Goddard, the experience that I have gained through nine IMMAF championships around the world has been invaluable. The challenges of a whole week of judging at IMMAF Championships has provided great preparation for professional shows. My biggest thanks goes to Marc Goddard, the IMMAF lead official, for his leadership, friendship and the opportunities he offers me.”
Marc Goddard said: “I’m so happy that both Vito’s and Clemens’ hard work, dedication and portrayal of the qualities required to be an official have been recognised on the biggest stage and this opportunity granted. They have both worked diligently, taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to them over a number of years both at IMMAF and with me across many professional events throughout Europe, the Middle East and beyond. I am proud to see their journey along IMMAF’s educational pathway for officials culminate on the world’s biggest MMA stage, and for these guys it’s just the beginning of the next stage of their officiating careers.”
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “It’s great to see the effectiveness of the IMMAF Officials Pathway recognised by top tier professional MMA promotions, with all the added pressure on officiating that comes with their extensive fan and media reach and commercial interests. I am proud to see Vito and Clemens representing their national federations, FIGMMA and GEMMAF, not just in the elite amateur league, but also now at elite professional level.”