Italy’s Vito Paolillo makes UFC officiating debut on UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE

International Mixed Martial Arts Federation judge Vito Paolillo of Italy has made his officiating debut with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He served as a judge in the UFC events on UFC Fight Island on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates while the world is battling against the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The first of the events on the UFC Fight Island was “UFC 251” on July 11, 2020 followed by “UFC on ESPN 13” on July 16, 2020. Paolillo’s fellow IMMAF judge Clemens Werner of Germany made his UFC officiating debut there, as well.

Under the tutelage of world-renowned mixed martial arts referee Marc Goddard, the director of IMMAF’s regulatory affairs, the two IMMAF alumni have honed their knowledge and experience through the international governing body’s progression pathway for officials since 2015. Werner has gone on to judge 1500 bouts while Paolillo has lost count.

'UFC 251' poster


“Being part of this historic event has been a great honor for me and a dream come true in my career as MMA Official,” Paolillo said. “The treatment we are receiving is something unprecedented. The organizational 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,” Paolillo continued. “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,” the Italian MMA judge added. “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.”

Famously featuring more than 500 matches in five days, the IMMAF World Championships is attended by up to 100 IMMAF licensed officials. To be eligible to work at the championships, officials must continue to renew their licenses through ongoing professional education.

“It’s great to see the effectiveness of the IMMAF Officials Pathway recognized 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,” IMMAF president Kerrith Brown said. “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.”

At “UFC 251,” Paolillo gave Rose “Thug” Namajunas, 28, of the United States and Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade, 28, of Brazil respective scores of 29 and 28. Meanwhile, for inquiries about IMMAF judges and referees certification courses, contact

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