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CagePotato Open Discussion: How Can we Change the Face of MMA Scoring?

(I’ll stop doing it when you stop laughing.) 

Lets face it, Potato Nation, the current face of MMA judging is nearly as bad as it’s original state of refereeing. And although some of the fault can be attributed to the judges themselves, there is no denying that the 10-point must system upon which nearly all of mixed martial arts competition is judged upon is in dire need of a change. How many decision’s have left us scratching our heads in this year alone? In fact, the very first fight card of the year, which took place on New Year’s Day mind you, ended in the controversial draw between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. You can’t make this stuff up.

It’s easy to sit back and take pot shots at those in the spotlight, and let’s be honest, it’s kind of what we’re known for. But not today. Today we move from “identifying the problem” to “finding the solution” so that maybe in the future we can say we made even the smallest of differences in the world. (Take that, Wall Street protesters.)

So after extensive research and idea-ball tossing, we have come up with a few options to help solve the judging riddle. If you think any of these ideas are better than the current system, you have a better option, or we should just leave well enough alone, be sure to let us know in the comment section, and vote in the new poll either here or on our homepage.

Option #1 – Pride Rules
Though Pride Fighting Championships was tainted by fixed fights and freak shows during its era, the scoring system upon which it was based certainly nullified most of the “lay-n-pray” strategy that the 10-point must system tends to reward. In the event of a decision, the three judges would decide the winner based on: effort made to finish the fight by KO/sub, damage given to the opponent, standing combinations and ground control, aggressiveness and weight differential. By adding the incentive to finish the fight and damage to the criteria, it emphasizes the notion put forth by the Fertitas that guys who WAR!!! are the ones we want to see fighting.

Option #2 – The Fermat Scale
Taking it’s name from French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, this system is loosely based on the probability scale that Fermat’s contributions helped create. There are 5 distinct categories; Effective Strikes Landed/Damage, Takedowns Completed, Submission Attempts, Knockdowns, and Octagon Control/Aggression. The winner in the judge’s eyes of each category receives a score of 1, the loser, 0. Now, this is not to say that there cannot be a tie in a couple of these categories. For instance, if both fighters knocked the other down once, or twice for that matter, the score would be 1-1 for that category. But by definitively deciding on categories such as Octagon Control and Effective Strikes Landed, it provides a larger window to decide upon an actual winner rather than a single point per round. Rounds are not decided upon as a whole or as a combination of these techniques, but rather by a specific breakdown of how each technique was used and to what success. It emphaizes the “mixed” in “mixed martial arts” essentially.

Option #3 – Queensbury/Boxing Style Rules 
This would basically be the same as the current 10-point must system, but with Queensbury rules, the knockdown would become as rewarded in MMA as it is in boxing. Each time a fighter is knocked down, he/she would lose a point. One knockdown would result in a 10-8, and so on. A takedown would not merit an automatic point reduction, but would still factor in to the overall score of the round. The significance of the knockdown would not only allow definitive evidence for justifying a 10-8 round and so on, but help the judges overcome the seemingly intense fear they have of labeling a round 10-8 in the first place. By these rules, Gray Maynard would’ve received much more credit for his first round dismantling of Edgar in their first match up. The tricky part here is, how do you effectively judge what a clear knockdown is in mixed martial arts? That is a tough question to answer, but that’s why we’ve made this a discussion.

Option #4 – Sakuraba/Gracie Rules
This one is simple. Fight until one of you gives up or is finished. Pay-per-views would surely suffer, but that’s just the cost of closure.

Option #5 – Stick With the 10-Point Must System

‘Nuff said.

So, what say you, Potato Nation? How can we fix this mess?


Cagepotato Comments

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mr_popo0- November 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm
stockton rules homie
KarmaAteMyCum- November 2, 2011 at 10:51 am
Total submission rules. Whoever wins by the 10 point system then fucks the loser (bareback) in the middle of the ring. If the loser (bottom) taps before the winner (top) cums, then the winner stays victorious. But, if the winner (top) cums before the loser (bottom) taps then it is considered a draw. BEST RULES EVER. (period)
handsfeetkneeselbows- October 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm
I have often heard the phrase, "he was winning the fight, but lost the bout" when a fighter has turned the momentum in the 3rd round, or the 5th round, but still loses 29-28 or 48-47. IMO, the fights should not be scored by rounds. The judges should keep a running total for the fight, based on perhaps the Fermat system, so if one fighter "loses" the first three rounds, but dominates the last two, he/she can still win the bout.
Hummus- October 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm
How did Stockton Rules not get any love on this?
Fried Taco- October 26, 2011 at 8:03 am
Two men enter, one man leave.
El Famous Burrito- October 20, 2011 at 6:16 am
When a fight ends without a finish, both fighters should be put in those glass booths where money is blown around by a fan. Whoever gathers the most cash is the winner. The loser gets a coupon to Old Country Buffet.
monkeyforce3000- October 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm
I don't understand why it is so hard to believe that a fight can be judged a draw. When a fight goes to decision, it becomes a subjective matter. It is not like a race where you have slow motion and a camera and a finish line. Sometimes fighters a re going to be so evenly matched, that YES, it will be considered a draw. What's the big deal. Great reason for a rematch. And there are NO good reasons for whining. So stop complaining.
MitchDeCoste- October 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm
why not just fight until there is a finish?
Cornholio00- October 19, 2011 at 8:50 am
The 10 points system is not bad. but i would do it with decimal numbers like 9.6 to 8.9.
and what is with sweeps or revearsels from the back. watch the last with with miguel torres vs demetrious johnson. ok johnson was controlling the fight but the sweeps from torres was great. and no scoring for that is a slap in the face for all JJ guys.
Dizzylittlelord- October 19, 2011 at 8:12 am
how was the edgar maynard draw controversial, maynard won the first 10-8 and the third with a takedown, edgar won the rest, it was the fairest decision. i think takedowns and top position need to be placed in the periphery a bit more with damage and activly trying to win being placed higher, the amount on wins based on lay and pray is appaulling and neither the fans or the fighters like it.
agressive active gnp is good, takedown after takedown to keep top control and points are not
Get Off Me- October 19, 2011 at 7:38 am
I wrote a piece like this after the Sherk vs. Dunham fight.
I even used Fight Metric stats from the fight to underline the problem with judging in this sport.
The problem is not the scoring system, recently MFC moved to the 1/2 point system and yielded a disgustingly incorrect decision win for Ryan Jimmo over Sokodju.
The problem is two fold, defining judging criteria and equal scoring of all disciplines in MMA needs to happen.
I think submission attempts should be valued in a fight, especially as we see more fights end via submission than we do by lay n pray. For instance, Clay Guida laying on top of Anthony Pettis, Pettis try's 8 sub attempts during a 5 minute period, Guida lands shoulder striked from inside Pettis's guard, Guida wins the round 10-9. Striking, Wrestling and BJJ all need to be given equal consideration during a round, this is not the case now and until this happens it will not matter what point system judges use because they do not know what they should be awarding points for.
Solution is to clearly define what counts as points in BJJ, Striking and Wrestling, how this relates to judging criteria(octagon control etc) and how together they are used to determine who won and lost a round.
More draws is not a bad thing, but too many draws and the sport loses the finality that most major sports can offer in terms of having a winner and loser.
Neil113- October 19, 2011 at 5:46 am
I think it was BJ Penn who suggested to get rid of the judges. The winner can only be determined by finishing the fight (KO, TKO, Ref stoppage, submission, etc.). If the fight is not finished or stopped by the ref before the 3 or 5 rounds are up, it's declared a draw. That's what I think it should go to.
SumDumGuy- October 19, 2011 at 5:46 am
Why isn't the Stockton Rules Scoring System (SRSS) included. Fight, if no finish, let Nick Diaz guess who woul've won had fight gone on indifinitly....
Gorgzilla- October 19, 2011 at 2:18 am
Lets just remove the entire consept of "Octagon Control".
It does nothing to help score a fight. If I "controlled" the fight to take place on the ground, but did no damage and never got close to a sub. Does that make we the round winner or just an ineffective fighter?
iadyn- October 19, 2011 at 1:25 am
danga great article!
i think theres a lot of issues in here and ways to solve things. Pride, queensbury and fermat all provide some good stuff to the table. I think theres nothing as such wrong with the 10 point must system but the scale should be more varied. Like already said here, its not wrong to call a 10-10 or 10-6 round. I definately like the idea of losing a point for each knockdown AS LONG AS the judges know what they'r doing and dont gift knockdowns for every slip or takedown attempt. I dont find fights ending to a draw a problem at all, what i dislike are really bad calls and maybe the idiot judges have the most to do with this. What came to mind though is to use a combination of some kind. Spice the current system with taking some pride factors into account, especially the effort to finish. Also take away a point for each knockdown. BUT have two judges score the fight on these terms and one judge using the fermaut one.
dcmsm- October 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm
As much as the 10 point must system is garbage and shouldn't be used, the biggest problem in the sport is the judges. Half of them couldn't tell a footlock sub from a footlong sub.

Perhaps having the referees call catches on submissions like they do in shooto could be a good idea. At least it would force the judges to acknowledge the existence of grappling past the takedown
ghostboner- October 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm
RWR couldn't be more correct on the judging vs sammiches. She is clearly more qualified for one than the other. The fact that I scored the fight the same as her makes no diff.
ghostboner- October 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm
Actually, on second thought, we should just have a little bar at the top of the screen during the fight that represents the fighter's life force/points for the round, Mortal Kombat style. Joe Rogan should have a joystick that controls those bars. Problem solved.
ghostboner- October 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm
I like a combo of the Pride/Ferment/Boxing rules. Once we get some clear, agreed upon definitions for what constitutes a knockdown, takedown etc. I like the idea of having separate points awarded for different categories, but I think they need to be weighted accordingly. A takedown should not be valued the same as a knockdown. The value factor should be damage, or fight finishing potential. Aggression/octagon control should not be weighted heavily, but give yellow cards/deduct points immediately for any Starnes/Machida-ish behaviour, no avoiding combat.
RwilsonR- October 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm
If you take a look at that Edgar-Maynard scorecard, it becomes pretty obvious what the problem was there - someone let a woman be a judge instead of having her make sammiches for the men.
RwilsonR- October 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm
One thing I've never understood about the current system is the judging criteria that mandates that Martin Kampmann automatically be deducted a point, and Leonard Garcia automatically be granted a point. That never quite made sense to me.
RwilsonR- October 18, 2011 at 10:36 pm
I don't have a problem with 10-point-must so long as the criteria are clearly defined.
Todd M- October 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm
Also @ House of no pants, I totally agree that all judges should have extensive knowledge of MMA, that right there is possibly the biggest problem we have.
Todd M- October 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm
I really think that the Edgar/Maynard 2 fight was a draw and I was glad they scored it that way, that said the 10 point must system probably isn't the best way to score something as unpredictable as MMA. I think a change is necessary especially as the sport continues to evolve, the fights are probably going to get harder to score not easier. Of the options you listed I like The Fermat Scale, I think with the different scores for eack discipline your judging the fight more fairly as oppose to the 10 point must system, good article Danga
Casa de los pantelones- October 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm
5 rounds for all fights. 5 judges, not 3. Better seating/viewing for judges. No points, either the fighter won or lost the round. All judges must have extensive knowledge of mma.