Pros Weigh In On Controversial Call: Jimenez Vs Ruotolo

The idea of any athletic event is to determine the winners and losers.  But often, a wrench is thrown into the system, rendering the outcome inconclusive. Usually, judges or referees making judgment calls are the culprit.  And on Friday night, with a controversial call in 3rd Coast Grapplings final match between Roberto Jimenez and Tye Ruotolo, we saw exactly that. 

The referee intervened constantly. He had to, because the matches were spilling off into the crowd. The reason for this? The layout of the mat area. The space was a little on the small side for a competition (roughly 676 square feet as opposed to ADCC at about 841 square feet.) But the spectators seated at the edge of the mats, was the problem. The lack of space between the competitors and the fans, made determining what position to reset them in difficult.

The controversy came from the sudden death overtime bout. Jimenez shot in for a double leg that put Ruotolo on his butt.  Simultaneously, Ruotolo secured a guillotine attempt that forced Jimenez to escape.  Ruotolo then scrambled back to his feet. Ultimately, the ref scored it a takedown, giving the victory to Jimenez. However, the entire sequence of events was close, and that created doubt about the points awarded.

Roberto Jimenez attempts a takedown against Tye Ruotolo.

Building Consensus

Fans of Jiu Jitsu and MMA are all too familiar with these types of controversies.  Officials deciding outcomes, almost plague combat sports.  As fans and practitioners, we have accepted this as a casualty of hand-to-hand combat. But, we have devised a solution to this problem.  In fact, I would argue that it is the most important factor in any outcome in martial arts.  The consensus of our peers.   

We ask our friends what they think.  Sometimes you agree. Sometimes you dont.  But you have a clear picture when you get the opinion of those you respect.

This is why after the match this weekend, I reached out to 3 of my close friends.  I asked for their thoughts on the takedown by Jimenez, so I could move on with my life.  They happen to be professionals in their respective fields, and they gave me permission to share their reply.

Travis Lee (2X NCAA Wrestling Champion, Cornel)

Screen shot of text conversation between Josh Clopton and Travis Lee.

From a wrestling standpoint, Travis says it is a takedown.

Gilbert Melendez (Former UFC Title Contender, ESPN Analyst)

Screen shot of text conversation of Josh Clopton and Gilbert Melendez.

Gil thinks control was never established.

Denny Prokopos (Eddie Bravo’s First Black Belt)

Screen shot of a text message from Denny Prokopos.

Denny scores it a takedown.

Jake Shields (Former UFC Title Contender, ADCC Veteran)

Screen shot of text conversation from Josh Clopton and Jake Shields.

Jake is undecided.


As you can see, the feedback from my friends is a little murky.  A case can be made either way. This seems to be the consensus with the grappling community as a whole.  In fact, the organization overturned the ruling on Sunday to a no contest.

My final analysis is, Jimenez did enough to win the bout. But the determination by Ruotolo to not accept the takedown and get back to his feet was remarkable. One thing that isn’t questionable? The next time these two square off will be all the more interesting.

Josh Clopton

Josh Clopton is a UFC veteran and Jiu Jitsu black belt. In 2005 he left his job in Tulsa, Okla. and moved to San Francisco to pursue fighting. While trying to break into the UFC, he worked on a commercial crab fishing boat to make ends meet. Josh earned his black belt under Jake Shields in 2016 and now helps train other fighters and has been the chief cornerman in over 20 UFC fights. He teaches at El Nino Training Center and also for companies such as Google, YouTube and LinkedIn. He is an avid reader, writer and outdoorsman.

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