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So What Exactly Does a 10-8 Round Look Like, Anyway?

Tom Lawlor vs. Aaron Simpson UFC Fight Night 20
(Photo courtesy of

This morning I woke up, fed the dog his usual breakfast of Golden Grahams and uncooked bacon, made myself some coffee, and then sat down to watch the Tom Lawlor-Aaron Simpson fight once again, this time without furiously typing as it was happening.  I didn’t do this because I necessarily felt that it was a horrible decision.  You let a fight stay that close while also gassing out down the stretch, it’s like running your ancient space heater next to your collection of oily rags — sympathy is going to be hard to come by when something bad happens.

I went back and watched the fight again only because I wanted to see if my initial assessment of the first frame as a 10-8 round for Lawlor held up under closer scrutiny.  The verdict?  Absolutely.  Which is why it might be worth having a discussion about what a 10-8 round really looks like.

Less than thirty seconds into the fight Lawlor first stung Simpson with a straight left/right uppercut combo.  Less than a minute later he put Simpson in serious trouble for the first time, battering him with a barrage of punches.  Simpson would get rocked badly at least two more times in the round.  Perhaps more importantly, he never offered any effective offense of his own.  All he did was survive.

There’s something to be said for surviving.  Sometimes it’s the best you can do.  But if we look at the 10-9 score the judges gave Lawlor for that first round, and then we look at the 10-9 score that two of the three judges gave Simpson for round 2, well, that’s when we have to admit to ourselves that something is wrong here.

The reason you score a round 10-8 is to give appropriate credit to one fighter for thoroughly dominating his opponent.  The reason you give a 10-9 is to indicate that it was at least somewhat close, but one guy had a distinct edge.  If there’s no distinct edge?  10-10.  This is, at least in theory, the way it’s supposed to work.

For some reason MMA judges like to act like 10-9 is the only score they know how to write down.  That’s not to say that a 10-8 first round would have kept the Virginia fans from booing their heads off once the decision was announced.  If you give Lawlor a 10-8 first, and then Simpson a 10-9 second and third, what you have there is a draw, which will make even the tamest audience irate. 

But if we’re not distinguishing between a dominant round and a close round, what’s the point of judging individual rounds?  If nearly finishing a guy and taking no damage in response counts for the same as doing just slightly better than a guy, we might as well be using an applause-o-meter to decide the winner.  At least then almost finishing a fight might count for something. 


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SiDeBuRnZ- January 13, 2010 at 2:37 am
@mybongsname what about fighter with no testicles like Kalib Starnes?
Craigger12- January 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm
bullshit decision. Lawlor won.

can't help but like this guy.

ianisthewalrus- January 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm
the judging does need a reform. and it should make sense. if you win you got 10, okay, thats easy enough. but if the opponent only does half as good as you, they should get a 5, not a 9.... if the opponent does nothing, even defensively, they should really get a 0.

ive been saying this alot i feel like....
mybongsnameisgreenmeenie- January 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm
allow me to make a suggestion.

if, in the event that a fight goes unfinished in 3 rounds(or 5), rather than have judges, have the fighters take turns kicking each other in the genitals. the kicking order would be decided by a coin toss, and whoever fell down first lost.

no draws. ever.
Zyz Zyx- January 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm
The way I explain a 10-8 Round to people who don't understand the judging (and really, can you blame them?), is to say that one guy beat the other guy so badly that it should have been over, but a miracle kept the guy alive. That's what I saw in the first round. Simpson had clearly made a deal with Satan himself. The other version of a 10-8 round would be Kalib Starnes vs Life.
budsellers- January 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm
correct me if needed, but if all 3 judges had given lawlor a 10-8 score in round 1, then i think lawlor would have been awarded the majority decision(not a draw)...

imho, the judges should start scoring 10-8 and 10-10 rounds.
ArmFarmer- January 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm
I had $340 on Simpson.. and even I thought it was surely a 10-8 round. I was yelling at the tv (which is a damn shame considering I live 10 minutes from where the fight was taking place) for him to finish in the 3rd because I thought there was no way he could win a decision.
twodragunns- January 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm
I'm an MMA fanatic and support the sport through many ways, however these shitty decisions are really taking the wind outta my sails and my thirst for the sport is waning with every bad decision made and lately they've been made on almost a weekly basis it seems.
When are MMA judges gonna start making the right calls??
They really are setting limits on the sport and slowing the spread of the sport by making these types of calls on very important fights.
Wake up and do the right thing ya bunch of losers and give us the fans and more importantly the fighters what it is they seek and that's
fair, accurate, and unbiased judging.
MoonBelly- January 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm
That would be a majority draw a la the NIK LENTZ VS. THIAGO TAVARES fight from last night.

Let's see Simpson fight a guy like Anthony Johnson. Johnson's coming off a loss and Simpson has some momentum. That would be a slug-fest. I'd be curious to see if Simpson could weather a storm from Johnson.
MMAMoneyLine- January 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm
If this fight went to a draw and they didn't fix the scoring mistake on the Story/Lennox cards, this event would have had 3 draws. There would have been bedlam in Virginia. the scoring stands, this should have been a draw. Maybe there should be a tiebreak.
Get Off Me- January 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm
This fight got a little Matt Brown v. Pete Sell like in the first round. 10-8 for sure, A-Train is in for some trouble if his fight strategy is going to be like this moving forward.
ghostboner- January 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm
@ goat - You're so silly. You must hang at the same bars as me.
ghostboner- January 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm
Good call Benjamins. You summarized my thoughts exactly. And while gassing doesn't help your case when it goes to decision, it isn't like he wasted all his gas doing nothing. He spent it beating the poo out of A-train and winning the round 10-8.
northandclark- January 12, 2010 at 11:50 am
Agreed, sometimes a fight is a draw. If the crowd doesn't like that its on them.
That Guy- January 12, 2010 at 11:17 am
IIRC when Nick Lembo (of the NJAC) was asked what a 10-7 would look like he answered something like, "A 10-7 means the fight should've been stopped." Starting from there I can only assume a 10-1 means that the winner not only killed his opponent (literally) but also his killed his opponent's cornermen and mom too.
V.S.O.P.- January 12, 2010 at 11:17 am
The athletic commission should check out, I like the way they score the fight.
rpn452- January 12, 2010 at 11:16 am
I like the 10-Point system, but I hate MMA judging. 10-8 and 10-10 rounds should be more common.
J-Dog- January 12, 2010 at 11:14 am
Maybe they need to score it more like boxing, where they take points away for knockdowns.... the "10 point must" system. If you knock your opponent down in boxing, you are guaranteed a 10-8 round (as long as you don't get knocked down yourself, of course).
G Funk- January 12, 2010 at 11:02 am
In boxing if a fighter gets a standing 8-count it'll likely be a 10-8. If a round is extremely one sided with multi standing 8's then you can bet it'll be a 10-7.

I know this is not boxing but MMA's scoring system is based and boxing's 10 point must. The prob I believe is that there are no standing 8 counts in MMA(not that I want this) and so it leaves it up to the judge to determine if things unofficially warrant that kind of scoring.

I don't know if its the system, judges(most likely) or what but something has to be done.
JackBauer- January 12, 2010 at 10:57 am
On a related note, the new octagon girl is a fucking dog.
Yves Latrine- January 12, 2010 at 10:56 am
Draw my ass*, Lawlor won two rounds.

*Make it look sexy, plz.
Body Triangle- January 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

Why can't we computerize the judging somewhat? I do not mean change the judges to computers, but rather have the judges use computers to tally strikes and whatnot. It would be relatively simple to create a tallying program where they could simply click "strong kick" or "leg kick" or even "submission attempt", or "submission escape", and have each one valued differently. By the end of a round, they would have a much easier, user-friendly screen to look at rather than chicken-scratch scorecards.

Granted, thats a vast simplification of what I believe is a great idea, but hopefully you get the gist.
GEE-yuh-TEEN- January 12, 2010 at 10:37 am
I've watched every UFC event for the last 5 years and don't remember seeing a 10-8 score except when a point was deducted. I have a feeling it's happened, it's just so rare that I don't remember it.
ReX13- January 12, 2010 at 10:33 am
mikerip Says:
Tue, 01/12/2010 - 12:16
Couldn't agree more with Ben here.

@Lonny- 10-8 needs to be more than just knocking someone down, they need to have thoroughly been dominated.

Then what does a 10-1 round look like? Or, has been asked before, what scores should Starnes v. Quarry have produced?

Is the system old and busted, or is it the mindset of the judging community? Strangely enough, it feels like pretty much anyone who frequents (or writes) an MMA blog could do a better job at producing fair, defensible scoring at these events.
Goat- January 12, 2010 at 10:24 am
The system is more busted than that girl I was hitting on last night around beer #6