By: Barry Lindenman
Going off of the general assumption that of the five standard scoring criteria for MMA bouts, clean striking and effective grappling carry more weight than cage control, effective aggressiveness and defense, I would like to propose a possible revision to the current judge’s scorecard.
The proposal calls for segregating the five standardized scoring components into two categories: “major,“ which would encompass all forms of clean strikes (punches, kicks, elbows, etc.) plus grappling, which would include all of the possible forms of ground work. Because these “major” scoring components are more important in the eyes of the fans and more critical in terms of dominating an opponent, this option would suggest that each fighter be given the opportunity to score from 1- 5 points for each of these fighting strategies. In this way, it would give both the standup fighter and the ground fighter equal opportunity to maximize their scoring in his or her preferred style of fighting.
As a secondary scoring category the proposed changes would group the remaining three scoring criteria (cage control, effective aggressiveness and defense) as “minor” scoring components. These criteria should not carry as much scoring influence as the previously stated “major” components. As such, each fighter would only be given an opportunity to score up to 3 points for each of these categories.
Creating an actual separation of these categories would effectively suggest a new scorecard where, in theory, each fighter can score a maximum of 19 points in each round (5 points each for the two “major” scoring criteria and 3 points each for the three “minor” scoring criteria).
Although on the surface, it may seem that the proposed changes would make the judges’ life more complicated than it currently is. In actuality, it should not. Since a judge should already be evaluating the performance of each fighter based on the five standard scoring criteria, this should not be seen as anything new to a judge. What would be different is the simple weighting of the current scoring criteria into its “major” and “minor” components. See the example below as an illustration of how the new scoring could be applied.
It would appear that a revised scorecard is necessary to score MMA rounds that is different from the standard 10 point must system used in boxing. The proposal above achieves two important things: it first separates the scoring criteria into its “major” and “minor” components by allowing more possible points for clean striking and effective grappling than for cage control, aggressiveness and defense. Finally, by scoring the striking and grappling components separately, it levels the playing field between a stand up fighter and a grappler in the minds of the judges who may favor one style over another. Other “judged” sports such as gymnastics, diving and figure stating include multiple scoring criteria for judges to evaluate (i.e. technical component, artistic component, degree of difficulty, etc.). Because of the intrinsic complexity of the sport, it would appear that mixed martial arts could adopt a similar approach.
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