(Smiling in the presence of a woman? Automatic one-point deduction. / Photo via Sherdog)
As sort-of hazily defined by Nick Diaz back in January 2010, the Unified Rules of Stockton is an alternate MMA scoring system in which the winner of the fight is the guy who would have won if the match had continued indefinitely, and the loser is the guy who looks more fucked up afterwards. Under Stockton Rules, only the final round is scored, and holding onto top position without doing damage actually counts for negative points.
The more commonly used ten-point-must system keeps things nice and uniform, and doesn’t require judges to predict the future. But as we’ve seen time and time again, the fighter who has more points on the scorecards isn’t always who you would call the “winner.” So which notable UFC fights would have different results if the scoring system was a little more gangster? Let’s get an obvious one out of the way first…
According to the scorecards: Henderson wins by unanimous decision, 48-47 across the board.
What really happened: Shogun got thoroughly handled in the first three rounds, but managed to get some momentum back in the fourth, and spent much of the last round in mount, slugging the crap out of a helpless Hendo who clearly had nothing left. Henderson was saved by the bell, and had fortunately built up enough of a lead early in the fight to clinch the judges’ decision.
According to Stockton Rules: Rua would be awarded a pre-emptive TKO victory, based on the likelihood that he would have finished the fight by round seven.
According to the scorecards: Penn and Fitch fought to a majority draw, with two out of the three judges scoring it 28-28.
What really happened: Penn vs. Fitch is a perfect illustration of the shortcomings of the ten-point-must system. The Prodigy was awarded the first two rounds 10-9, for edging out Fitch by the narrowest of margins. Then, Fitch comes back in round three and beats the living hell out of Penn. Add it all up, and the fight is…dead even? Maybe by the numbers, but in no way was that fight a “tie.”
According to Stockton Rules: An obvious decision victory for Fitch, who would still be punching BJ Penn right now if time limits were removed.
According to the scorecards: Aldo by unanimous decision (48–45, 48–46, 49–46).
What really happened: Just like Dan Henderson’s fight against Shogun, Aldo built up an unsurmountable lead in the early going of this five-rounder. But due to a horrible weight cut and a mysterious infection, the featherweight champ’s body failed him in the fifth round, which allowed Hominick to come back and pour on a heap of abuse which nearly finished the fight.
According to Stockton Rules: It’s a draw. Hominick probably would have won if the fight were allowed to continue to additional rounds, but when you add in the “more fucked-up-looking” criteria, Aldo evens the score by making Hominick’s head look like a damn parade float. Raise both of their hands and make them fight again the next day. (Also known as “Stockton Scheduling.”)
According to the scorecards: The fight never went to the judges. Silva won by triangle-armbar submission in round five.
What really happened: Chael Sonnen spent four and a half rounds taking Silva down at will and smashing him from the top. Hell, he was even getting the better of the standup exchanges somehow. And then, as has happened many times before in his pro career, Sonnen fell into the unforgiving crotch of a Brazilian and got choked out.
According to Stockton Rules: Sonnen by split-decision. Look, I know what you’re thinking — how could the guy who tapped out be considered the winner of a fight? Well, you clearly haven’t read the Stockton Rules fine print. As Nick Diaz explains at the 10:50 mark of his interview with Ariel, “I say, even if you tapped the guy out and you got your ass beat, you still got your ass beat, you know what I mean?”
Or, as Sonnen himself put it later, “In what parallel universe can you punch a man 300 times, he wraps his legs around your head for eight seconds and they declare him the winner? On the streets of West Linn, Oregon, if you lay on your back with your legs wrapped around a man’s head for eight seconds, that does not make you a winner. That makes…not a winner.” The man’s got a point — and it’s pretty obvious that Chael Sonnen is a Stocktonite at heart.