Judging is broken in MMA. Everyone knows that, but how do you fix it?
That’s the million dollar question and California thinks they might have the answer. In a Yahoo! Sports report, Dave Meltzer describes how they’re experimenting with a half-point scoring system in California’s amateur program.
Instead of always writing 10-9 on a scorecard unless there is a completely dominant round with a near finish, you have more options. A 10-9.5 is for a close round, like rounds one and three in Siver vs. Wiman, and rounds one and two in Jackson vs. Machida – both fights in which the person who ended up losing in the current system would most likely have won with the new system.
A 10-9 would be the score for a round that is competitive, but, you have no doubt who won. That is still the score that comes up most of the time with the new system. A 10-8.5 would be for a round where one fighter dominated, but didn’t do enough for a 10-8, notably round two in Wiman vs. Siver, and round three in Machida vs. Jackson.
A 10-8 would be similar to how it is currently used, and you’d even have a 10-7.5 for something more dominant than a normal 10-8 round, but for whatever reason, the fight isn’t stopped.
Interestingly, the plan also includes a fourth judge that scores fights on a points based system to act as a tiebreaker in case of a draw.
The point system was put together by a panel that included well-known referees and judges “Big” John McCarthy, Herb Dean and Nelson “Doc” Hamilton, as well as Steele and George Dodd, the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission.
The system is four points for a knockdown, two for damaging strikes, one for a takedown, one for a sweep, two for grappling into a dominant position (back, mount or side control), and four for a near submission.
“We’re not married to this system,” said Steele. “We’re working on getting it as good as we can, and it’s getting close.”
The plan is to run the experiment for a year, compile the stats and present their findings to high-ranking regulatory officials such as the UFC’s Marc Ratner to evaluate whether the half-point system works better than the current 10-point must system.
Personally, I’m not sure making the system more complex is the answer. I’m a fan of simplicity and would rather see fights scored as a whole based on a clearly specified list of criteria along with more of a commitment to judges’ training and education. But hey, at least someone is trying something. At this point, anything is worth a shot.