Many people feel the 10 point scoring system that is used in mixed martial arts isn’t the right system, yet I haven’t heard anybody come up with a better one!
The world was clamoring for “open scoring”, you know, where we get to see the score from each judge after every single round. Invicta Fighting Championships is the 1st big promotion to implement this. I applaud them for being first, but it still doesn’t fix the problem of unqualified persons judging fights!
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, open scoring is not going to fix the lack of knowledge that a judge possesses do the job correctly! The only thing that open scoring does is let us know which judges stink at their job earlier rather than waiting till the end of the fight!
I honestly think that it is detrimental to an athlete competing to see the score before the end of the fight. Some fighters are emotional, and if they look at the live scoring and everybody in the arena, the fighter themself, and their coaches are all saying that their guy is winning and then the scores pop up and 2 judges have that fighter losing, it could affect the fighter and how they perform the rest of the way. Some may get motivated and go out there and try to secure a finish, but others may get deflated, feeling frustrated that all the work they put in in the 1st 2 rounds didn’t matter, then they get inside their head questioning everything, and then they lose.
In my opinion, some of the criteria also need to be examined. 1st of all I go look at the numbers after every UFC fight. I’ll see a total strike count of 135 landed strikes, I will also see 134 of those counted as “significant”! I’ve never seen a fighter land a 134 out of 135 strikes and have them all be significant!
Every strike landed isn’t significant! Yet we see these ridiculous numbers, and it almost makes it understandable as to why the judges get it wrong so often! It’s clearly something in the culture. Those that are recording the strikes don’t know what they’re looking at. Judges look at fights from the past, and maybe some of them even look at the numbers and then they go judge a fight and they base their judging on numbers and events from the past because that was the narrative that they were fed!
A takedown should not be scored as highly as some seem to give unless once acquired, there is another offensive action to follow. I’m not saying that the takedown should be ignored because that is an offensive move to establish control and should be factored in. However, if I take you down 15 times, and you get up within 5 seconds each time then yes, I should be given some credit when it comes to scoring for my takedowns, but not as much credit as some judges give for just getting the takedown, there has to be a secondary action, at least that’s my opinion.
Refereeing, I could go on for days, but the bottom line is, referees like judges, are human and see things differently than one another. Even though these people are supposed to follow the same rules, yet they don’t. All are not bad, nut more are than should be acceptable!
For example; Jose Aldo fought Peter Yan at UFC 251 this past Saturday night. In the finishing sequence, Aldo was face down in a pool of his own blood absorbing what seemed to be hundreds of punches. Referee Leon Roberts stood over the fighters and did nothing to protect Aldo, which is job one as a referee. Aldo was in the turtle position, and not intelligently defending himself at all, yet in Roberts’ eyes, that was okay. I can name other high profile referees that would have stopped it much sooner because it was clear that Aldo was done. The world saw it, yet the guy literally on top of the action didn’t, really? This is the most recent horrific performance, or should I say lack thereof performance by a referee to reference.
Those are a couple of examples of things I see that are wrong with the system, however, the most glaring issue is the unified rules, are anything but! The rules and scoring criteria should be the same in every jurisdiction, it would make it easier for all officials, and more importantly, the fighters. If the rules were actually unified, we could quite possibly see something we all want, consistency!
Humans ruin everything mostly due to ego, and MMA isn’t exempt from the human ego. You see, the reason we will never, in my opinion, have “true unified” rules is because of the human element.
The Association of Boxing Commissions oversees the rules of our sport. They have meetings and discussions about the rules for mixed martial arts, they have representatives from all the jurisdictions, at least that is my understanding, involved in the process. They present rules, they vote, the rules are accepted. Sounds simple enough, right?
The problem lies in when the meetings are over, and these people all head to their home jurisdictions, and present the new rules to their local commission body and someone says I don’t think this, this, or that work for us here. Then they implement their version of the unified rules, and that’s where the system spirals into confusion for all involved.
First of all, once the rules are voted and agreed upon that should be the end of the discussion. Any member commission should have to follow the unified rules, and not be able to interpret them how they want. Doing it the way we are now, basically nullifies the need for the ABC to even exist, at least that’s my take.
Unfortunately, I do not know how to fix this broken system. However, a good first step would be to mandate that all member commissions of the ABC be required to follow the unified rules set forth in order to maintain their membership, which includes voting rights, and the ability to host events! Yes, that’s what I said! If you do not follow the rules in place, you lose the right to host events. Lives and careers are on the line, and the athletes, as well as the officials, deserve to know that they can do their job the same way, no matter where the office is on any given night!
Also, ongoing education implemented by the ABC for all officials should go into effect yesterday! You can never know too much, and continuing to hone your craft is or should be a no-brainer! If you don’t take the classes, you lose your license to officiate, plain and simple.
We need a reset on this if you will, and what solutions I have offered while not perfect, would be a good place to start!
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.