TMMAC Think Tank: MMA Scoring and Judging

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Grateful Dude

TMMAC Addict
May 30, 2016
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With the Jones vs Reyes decision from this weekend still fresh in mind, let's talk about scoring and judging specifically for MMA. Some, perhaps many, feel like this was a controversial decision. Personally, on fight night I had it 48-47 Reyes, but there was a close round that could have gone either way (i.e. not a "robbery"). But that's part of the issue - everyone views and scores these differently. We all know that there are longstanding issues with the current scoring system, and same goes for judging.

Let's pretend we have the ability to change the rules. How do we fix the problems with scoring and make the system more practical specifically for MMA? As fans we can all have our opinions about fight outcomes, but how do we improve the systems for the actual judges? An ideal system would eliminate as much bias as possible.


Here is a list of some talking points:

SCORING:
  • Open scoring system? (as suggested by Max Holloway recently)
  • Fix or eliminate the 10-9 system. More use of 10-8s and 10-7s?
  • More points for work from the bottom position or sub attempts
  • Re-evaluate takedown scoring. No reward for this unless work gets done.
  • Issue more point deductions for fouls. Less warnings, more taken points.
  • Modify criteria: Currently it is "effective striking, grappling, aggression, and octagon control". Should this be modified? How much should "octagon control" count for?
  • If a round is lackluster and neither fighter does much, there should be no reward (like there is currently with the 10-9 system)

JUDGING:
  • Increase the number of judges
  • Better educate judges
  • TV monitors for judges
  • Have full-time MMA-specific judges that travel with the events
  • Have more former or retired fighters become judges
  • Judge the entire fight, not just rounds (think Pride FC)

Let's hear it TMMAC. How would you design scoring and judging to be more applicable to MMA, and to eliminate as much bias as possible?
 
Last edited:

nuraknu

savage
Jul 20, 2016
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I think the main problem with fighters being judges is that, even though there are some that will definitely score the fight fairly, so many keep their associations with their teams as trainers etc., so there may be a bias anyway, even if it's not say, a bias in favor of bookies.
 

Grateful Dude

TMMAC Addict
May 30, 2016
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I think the main problem with fighters being judges is that, even though there are some that will definitely score the fight fairly, so many keep their associations with their teams as trainers etc., so there may be a bias anyway, even if it's not say, a bias in favor of bookies.
I think you make a fair point here. The positive though, and this is a general statement, is that former fighters as judges would have a much better understanding of what they are seeing/scoring compared to the folks we often see assigned by the AC's (such as judges that have only every worked in boxing).
 

Inside Job

Sapere Aude
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Jan 17, 2015
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Not fixable
UFC and Vegas don't want it fixed

For years I have said finishes are true victories and decisions are unfinished business

Finishers and finishes leave nothing up for debate
 

BROVID-19

hörnchenmeister
Dec 16, 2015
1,094
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I cannot offer a full solution, but I will give my quick two cents:
> point deduction for groin shots and eyepokes (of course there can can still be freak ballkicks when a guy tries for a flying knee but gets caught with a punch, falls backwards and the foot comes up during the fall and hits home; or when the edge of the glove of the the closed fist grazes the eye. Maybe instant replays for those cases, at least in title fights?)
> point deduction for fence grab that stopped a takedown

I remember a great quote, when Rogan once said "Man, I would hate to have to score that round!" ...
where was that from? Edgar Maynard 2? anyone remember?
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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I cannot offer a full solution, but I will give my quick two cents:
> point deduction for groin shots and eyepokes (of course there can can still be freak ballkicks when a guy tries for a flying knee but gets caught with a punch, falls backwards and the foot comes up during the fall and hits home; or when the edge of the glove of the the closed fist grazes the eye. Maybe instant replays for those cases, at least in title fights?)
> point deduction for fence grab that stopped a takedown

I remember a great quote, when Rogan once said "Man, I would hate to have to score that round!" ...
where was that from? Edgar Maynard 2? anyone remember?
I agree that point deductions should happen more often. Didn't Jones get two or three warnings this past weekend? One warning, and then points get taken. We've seen it a lot, where a ref will issue warnings all fight but rarely actually take a point. As another example - what about when Jones kneed Anthony Smith when he was down on his knees. Should that be an automatic point off? I do like the idea of having instant replay for the ref and judges.

Of course, this also becomes subjective as not all judges will evaluate the fouls the same way.


I don't remember what fight that was, but I feel like we've heard Rogan say that a number of times. Some rounds are hard to score, especially if it is very even and using the 10-9 system. Some rounds should rightfully be even.
 

Saloth Sar

Let's take a little trip to the countryside
Dec 1, 2015
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Pride scoring is the only practical thing that can be done for a minor improvement in terms of the system.

Judging is a completely subjective exercise, and the 10-9 system just forces us to add together multiple subjective self-contained fights (that's all round scoring is) together. It distorts things. Let's just make the whole thing a singular subjective assessment.

But here is the one innovation I would add - judges are forced to score the winner at time intervals as the fight progresses, but are not bound by these scores. What that would do is publicly highlight judges who have wild inconsistencies and the ones who are most susceptible to recency bias.

None of this fixes anything without making judges more accountable, of course.
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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None of this fixes anything without making judges more accountable, of course
On the money here. How many years have we been talking about bad decisions or robberies? Many. And how many times has a judge been held accountable? Very few, if ever.

Think Cecil Peoples and Adalaide Byrd.
 

homo fagit

Posting Machine
Jul 17, 2018
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We can't have some fucking commissioners do the judging who have no experience in combat sports
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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For years I have said finishes are true victories and decisions are unfinished business
So on this line of thought, should fights go until there is a finish? I don't hate that idea in some ways, but I imagine that would be troublesome when they're trying to fit 12 fights in on a card and have a time slot to air within. It would be nice to see fights carry on until they are truly finished though.

What about a sudden death round? That's kind of a joke...

And maybe use a different name other than "sudden death" hah
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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We can't have some fucking commissioners do the judging who have no experience in combat sports
Amen hallelujah

The judging is pretty fucked up at times. With MMA so popular now, why can't the commissions have trained judges on hand specifically for MMA?
 

Inside Job

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So on this line of thought, should fights go until there is a finish? I don't hate that idea in some ways, but I imagine that would be troublesome when they're trying to fit 12 fights in on a card and have a time slot to air within. It would be nice to see fights carry on until they are truly finished though.

What about a sudden death round? That's kind of a joke...

And maybe use a different name other than "sudden death" hah
they can't do that for health reasons
25 minutes is already pushing it

All I know for sure is that many judges decisions don't really mean anybody "beat" anyone in a fight...it is just for betting purposes and so the casual fans can have a "winner"

Draws and 10-10 rounds are a more realistic representation of many fights
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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they can't do that for health reasons
Agree
25 minutes is already pushing it
Agree

It wasn't really a serious comment, and I was just pointing out that it would be nice to have more finality in some fights. How to achieve that is a whole other story, and I don't know how to do it. And would better judging and criteria allow for a more accurate decision to be made if a fight is evenly contested? You hear BLAF say "the win bonus encourages fighters to finish" and "I always tell them not to leave it to the judges". Much easier said by him than done by the fighters. The win bonus is a whole other issue with MMA.......
 

Inside Job

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Agree

Agree

It wasn't really a serious comment, and I was just pointing out that it would be nice to have more finality in some fights. How to achieve that is a whole other story, and I don't know how to do it. And would better judging and criteria allow for a more accurate decision to be made if a fight is evenly contested? You hear BLAF say "the win bonus encourages fighters to finish" and "I always tell them not to leave it to the judges". Much easier said by him than done by the fighters. The win bonus is a whole other issue with MMA.......
Finish bonuses encourage finishes

Win bonuses not so much
 

Twelve Twenty Four

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2016
359
392
Feel free to tell me to shut my mouth, however, don't 80-90 % of fights get judged correctly?
I know the Jones fight was high profile and personally I agreed with the judging - Reyes started off well but gave it away in the last 2 rounds - 1st round was close imo.
This kind of close fight shouldn't promt a rule change should it?
I'll shut up now - happy Wednesday everybody!
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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Feel free to tell me to shut my mouth, however, don't 80-90 % of fights get judged correctly?
I know the Jones fight was high profile and personally I agreed with the judging - Reyes started off well but gave it away in the last 2 rounds - 1st round was close imo.
This kind of close fight shouldn't promt a rule change should it?
I'll shut up now - happy Wednesday everybody!
Sure, lots of fights are scored correctly. This thread wasn't to suggest that the Jones/Reyes fight is the reason for a rule change (I personally didn't think it was a "robbery"). More that there have been lots of bad decisions in the past, and plenty of incompetent judges over the years(like the 49-46 for Jones).

The thought experiment this thread was intended to be was more about how to make the scoring system and criteria better and more applicable for MMA, and how to have better qualified judges scoring the fights. The scoring system could be better, and so could the judges. How is the question.
 

ConorMcGregorsBeard

Stewart Era Liberal
Jul 22, 2015
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Open scoring system? (as suggested by Max Holloway recently)
The more I think about this idea, the dumber I think it is. People like making false analogies about other sports, but if you were up 30-27 going into round 4 and 5, you'd have every reason to just avoid getting finished and mail it in.

Currently it is "effective striking, grappling, aggression, and octagon control"
The definitions of these should be more open to interpretation. Right now judgind criteria puts guard players and counter punchers at a disadvantage.
 

Grateful Dude

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May 30, 2016
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The more I think about this idea, the dumber I think it is. People like making false analogies about other sports, but if you were up 30-27 going into round 4 and 5, you'd have every reason to just avoid getting finished and mail it in.



The definitions of these should be more open to interpretation. Right now judgind criteria puts guard players and counter punchers at a disadvantage.
yeah, out of all the bullet points in the OP, that’s the one I like least. I don’t exactly know what all “open scoring” as Max suggested entails, but if it’s just having the scores available to everyone during the fight, I don’t know what that fixes. And you bring up a good point about encouraging coasting.

I still think the main way to improve is to have the judging criteria better defined or revised to better represent which fighter earned more points in a given round. Make it more fair/practical for scoring variables like takedowns (effective or did nothing?), or a guard player (laid there and held or threw sub attempts?), etc.

I also don’t like the 10-must system. You can have a dead even round but one fighter still “wins”. Even rounds, and 10-8s could be used more.

In the end it’s still all subjective, so improving the education/training for judges and having MMA specific judges would be a good start. No more Adalaide Byrd stuff. There can be a lot on the line, so it’s a shame to have unqualified people making these decisions (especially with the fighter paychecks associated with them).

like I said above somewhere, I don’t know exactly how to fix it, but to me it seems there is plenty of room for improvement.
 

Grateful Dude

TMMAC Addict
May 30, 2016
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Another question:

should fight stats be available to the judges in between rounds?

Would having the data on effective strikes vs total strikes, takedowns, sub attempts, etc. allow judges to be better informed before writing down a # for each round?
 

ENOCK

Underneath Denver International Airport
Jun 19, 2016
7,328
13,478
With the Jones vs Reyes decision from this weekend still fresh in mind, let's talk about scoring and judging specifically for MMA. Some, perhaps many, feel like this was a controversial decision. Personally, on fight night I had it 48-47 Reyes, but there was a close round that could have gone either way (i.e. not a "robbery"). But that's part of the issue - everyone views and scores these differently. We all know that there are longstanding issues with the current scoring system, and same goes for judging.

Let's pretend we have the ability to change the rules. How do we fix the problems with scoring and make the system more practical specifically for MMA? As fans we can all have our opinions about fight outcomes, but how do we improve the systems for the actual judges? An ideal system would eliminate as much bias as possible.


Here is a list of some talking points:

SCORING:
  • Open scoring system? (as suggested by Max Holloway recently)
  • Fix or eliminate the 10-9 system. More use of 10-8s and 10-7s?
  • More points for work from the bottom position or sub attempts
  • Re-evaluate takedown scoring. No reward for this unless work gets done.
  • Issue more point deductions for fouls. Less warnings, more taken points.
  • Modify criteria: Currently it is "effective striking, grappling, aggression, and octagon control". Should this be modified? How much should "octagon control" count for?
  • If a round is lackluster and neither fighter does much, there should be no reward (like there is currently with the 10-9 system)

JUDGING:
  • Increase the number of judges
  • Better educate judges
  • TV monitors for judges
  • Have full-time MMA-specific judges that travel with the events
  • Have more former or retired fighters become judges
  • Judge the entire fight, not just rounds (think Pride FC)

Let's hear it TMMAC. How would you design scoring and judging to be more applicable to MMA, and to eliminate as much bias as possible?

Lot of great ideas Grateful Dude @Grateful Dude

Main issue IMO is sports gambling, this leaves the door wide open for manipulation / corruption.

But if we are to try and fix the sport having more retired fighters transition into Reffing / Judging like Shaolin Riberio ....

It’s interesting though that the UFC brings along their hand selected refs and judges to all events ...how else do the same judges and refs get the nod to call big fights from Vegas to the UK to Brazil ...same cast of characters always involved.
 

Inside Job

Sapere Aude
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Jan 17, 2015
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Finish Bonuses

Huge Fucking Finish Bonuses!

no "Win" bonuses

Good salary and huge bonuses for finish


Totally off topic but would work
 

Inside Job

Sapere Aude
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yeah, out of all the bullet points in the OP, that’s the one I like least. I don’t exactly know what all “open scoring” as Max suggested entails, but if it’s just having the scores available to everyone during the fight, I don’t know what that fixes. And you bring up a good point about encouraging coasting.

I still think the main way to improve is to have the judging criteria better defined or revised to better represent which fighter earned more points in a given round. Make it more fair/practical for scoring variables like takedowns (effective or did nothing?), or a guard player (laid there and held or threw sub attempts?), etc.

I also don’t like the 10-must system. You can have a dead even round but one fighter still “wins”. Even rounds, and 10-8s could be used more.

In the end it’s still all subjective, so improving the education/training for judges and having MMA specific judges would be a good start. No more Adalaide Byrd stuff. There can be a lot on the line, so it’s a shame to have unqualified people making these decisions (especially with the fighter paychecks associated with them).

like I said above somewhere, I don’t know exactly how to fix it, but to me it seems there is plenty of room for improvement.
The Adelaide Byrd stuff isn't just random, it is intentional and sadly I don't always think it is just incompetence.
There has been a handful of these "unqualified/random" judges in combat sports and their cards have affected Fight Bets enough to build a portion of Las Vegas.

CJ Ross comes to mind...I estimate she won Vegas a 500 Hundred Million with a single boxing scorecard. Sometimes these are Plants.

Which brings me to the point that any system will be corrupted, it is inevitable.

We had a scorecard with two rounds computer printed, and the other 3 hand written on saturday...haha...total shitshow man
 

Grateful Dude

TMMAC Addict
May 30, 2016
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ENOCK @ENOCK and Inside Job @Frank Armitage you both bring up good points about potential corruption. The rules are only as good as the people enforcing them. Of course I’m idealizing in here, but let’s pretend we live in a perfect bubble :) How could it all be improved?

In this thread I was really only thinking about improvements from a technical/practical standpoint. Ethics in judging is a whole other thread and set of problems to address.