Ricardo Almeida's life in MMA has been rather interesting for a man that has competed with some solid fighters in the toughest organization in the world but was never able to beat the elite competition required for a serious title run. Almeida first fought all the way back in December 2000, primarily relying on his serious grappling credentials to get him by. Over the course of 2000-2004, Almeida put together an 8-2 record before taking a hiatus from MMA to focus on BJJ, despite being on a six fight win streak.
The hiatus lasted four years, and he returned to the Octagon in 2008. After going 4-1 in his return, Almeida ran into trouble against a Matt Hughes headlock, rebounded with a win over TJ Grant, and then lost again against Mike Pyle at UFC 128 in March 2011. What Almeida did next was what makes him an interesting character: he retired from MMA. MMA is plagued with fighters that only retire long after they should have, racking up vicious knockouts and embarrassing performances. It took multiple bagerings from Dana White (and probably a truckload of money along with a job with the UFC) to convince finally convince Chuck to hang em up. This was after a 1-5 end of his career with 4 brutal KO losses. Most people think Tito Ortiz should've retired two years, five broken limbs, three skull fractures, and a spinal fusion ago (despite claiming to be healthy before every fight). Hell, Jens Pulver just lost in December and has another fight scheduled for June. After beginning his WEC career at 21-8-1, he is now 25-16-1 and still fight (possibly for the money though).
Almeida ended his career at a definitely respectable 13-5, and losing two of his last three to guys that are no joke. He's only been knocked out once, way back in 2002. Shortly after his retirement, he announced that he would like to take up judging MMA bouts and became a professional judge in New Jersey. This was in the midst of an (still ongoing) judging crises. There have been multiple complaints that the judges deciding the outcomes to fights were boxing judges that knew little about MMA and thus, couldn't properly score a fight. Most people want judges that know what they're seeing, and that have in-cage experience. And that's exactly what he did. In the past year Almeida's name showed up in shows like Strikeforce as a cageside judge. At UFC on Fox 3 this weekend, he'll be making his second debut.
“Personally, it’s just giving back to a sport that has given a lot to my life,” Almeida said. “[NJSACB attorney] Nick Lembo invited me and I’ve had a great relationship with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board and I accepted right away.
“What people don’t understand is that the view a judge has watching the fight isn’t the same view fans have watching on TV. It’s hard; it’s a different perspective.”
His presence as a judge has already garnered support from the fighters.
“He’s going to know a little bit more about the sport,” Hendricks said during a recent conference call. “He’ll know what position really means, and he’ll know when a strike actually lands.”
Koscheck added: “It’s good for the sport. It gets the perspective of a fighter, someone who’s been in the Octagon and knows jiu-jitsu and knows wrestling and understands the sport.
“As this sport grows we’re going to see more ex-UFC fighters become judges. It’s a good start.”
Hopefully this is he is ushering a new age of MMA judging. Hopefully Almeida is setting an example that you don't have to get knocked out in your last six fights before retiring. Hopefully guys see him and say "hey, I can have a positive impact on this sport even when I'm done." Hopefully former fighters can rely on their experience to judge fights better than some of the stuff we've been putting up with.
Block quotes taken from this article by Franklin McNeil at ESPN.