Legendary MMA referee Big John McCarthy recently explained the proper way to judge an MMA fight, using Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero as an example.
McCarthy is the most experienced official in mixed martial arts and was instrumental in the creation of the Unified Rules of MMA and the judging criteria for the sports. Since retiring from officiating a few years ago, McCarthy currently works as a commentator for Bellator and also hosts the “Weighing In” podcast with former UFC lightweight Josh Thomson.
MMA judging is often controversial, and many decisions in the last few months such as Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes, Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzeczyk and Adesanya vs. Romero have been scrutinized by fans and media. In an effort to explain to fans how an MMA fight is properly scored, McCarthy recently reaffirmed to MMA Junkie Radio. that the most important criteria in scoring a bout is damage.
“The biggest thing we have to have is the judges understanding the criteria that is given to them and how to use it and then understanding in a fight what is effective. It’s not what is flashy. It’s not the guy that’s moving forward. It is what is the most effective element in that round. Who’s the guy that created the most dangerous situations for their opponent?” McCarthy said.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s chasing him down. It matters if he is doing the most effective damage during that round. That’s what the judges are looking for.”
John McCarthy also used the recent fight between Adesanya and Romero in his example of how a fight should be correctly scored.
“Personally, I knew at the end of that (first) round, I knew that every judge, my son was one of those judges, I knew everyone was going to go with Yoel Romero because he landed the one big right hand,” McCarthy said. “You saw Israel rubbing his left eye, blinking his left eye because a knuckle caught him or something, but it showed that that punch had an effect. That’s what I’m talking about: Who affected the other the most?” McCarthy said.
“I wanted to give it a 10-10 because neither, in my opinion, neither guy deserved to win that round,” McCarthy said. “You didn’t do enough to win that round. You didn’t do enough for me to say you actually get an advantage over your opponent now, having one point higher on the scorecard, but I knew when the round was over, they’re all going to give it to Yoel, and I probably would have to because that’s what the criteria tells me.”