How Can MMA Judging Improve?

May 21, 2013 11:50 am by Sean McClure

MMA judging can be maddening, laughable, and bewildering all at the same time. There is no real method to the madness that is standardized across the board. Do attempted submissions count, or are they the same as missed punches. Is controlling someone’s back without really coming close to finishing them worth more than a well-timed and spectacular reversal or escape. All of it is very subjective and controversial. How does MMA fix this problem as a whole?

Educating the new batch of judges is key. One thing they did in PrideFC so well is take the entire fight in to account. I am not saying do the same should be used in the UFC, but what I am saying is that this should be stressed to the judges on a round by round basis. Watch the round like a movie and judge it based on who did more damage or if it’s too close in that category – by who controlled the round, and directed traffic so to speak. If you have ever watched a fight you probably get a clear sense of who won the round by simply applying these two filters to your viewing.

Adding two more judges might help. A 10 point must system is best used when the fight is not left up to just
three judges. Most of the time it’s a best 2 out of 3 situation, but a 3 out of 5 might be better because there would probably be less chance for split decisions if the read the above paragraph. One of the main reasons that MMA has only three judges is that in MMA’s infancy no one had a clue what they were doing. They needed an odd number so they chose three. It didn’t help that at that time getting people to show up was near impossible, too. When I started announcing events around 2001 the judges were the local “Billy bad-asses” who claimed ridiculous 46-0 underground street fighting records, and still had all of their teeth. Judging has always been ‘entertaining’ to say the least.

The bottom line is that educating new judges matters. Teaching them what is considered significant and what should be taken in to account when scoring a bout is so crucial. Go watch Michael Bisping vs Matt Hammill, Jon Fitch vs. Jeff Joslin, Matt Hughes vs Matt Serra, and Mauricio Rua vs. Lyoto Machida 1. Do you agree with those outcomes?

What do you think would improve judging?

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