Long before I started following MMA, I followed boxing. In fact, I cut my rating software teeth over at BoxRec before I helped found this site. The sport’s history is incredible, HBO carried almost all the major fights with the best production I’ve ever seen in boxing or MMA and the star power was enormous.
Boxing has always had problems though; the amount of divisions and titles make it difficult for fans to follow, corruption has caused some egregious scorecards, unregulated matchmaking results in lopsided main events and most importantly, a lot of boring fights where boxers chase points to win. I’m focusing on the last one.
Chasing points makes more sense in boxing. Most big fights are 12 rounds, which can create a lot of mini-stories and “back and forth” within one fight. 36 minutes of fighting is a long time. Also, combatants wear big padded gloves better equipped for defense and causing CTE than they are for creating KOs. Boxers can only use their fists as weapons and in top fights where boxers are competitively matched, there’s only so much that can be done to end a fight prematurely. MMA does not have these problems.
I saw Reyes play a bit of this strategy in the main event last night through the first 3 rounds. I’m honestly not sure who won the fight, but I think it should’ve been a 48-47 win using the current system. Ignoring who he is as a person, I was happy to hear that Jones won the fight, mainly because I would’ve been unhappy if Reyes won. After hearing the 49-46 scorecard announced, I was sure Jones had taken it. Regardless of how inept the judges are, there’s no way that they could not give him rounds 4 & 5. I’m glad they did and I’m about to explain why.
People think the current scoring system is flawed and I’ve heard a few ideas regarding “better” systems.
- Add half-point scoring – Keep the current system but promote the use of 10-9.5 and 10-8.5 scores. I think this is bad, because it allows the judges to have more “play”, which has people complaining already.
- Use the entire 10 points – Rounds can be 10-10, 10-9, 10-8, 10-7 and all the way down. I dislike this for the same reason, but it is much worse.
- More 10-10s and 10-8s – Be more free with the 10-10 and 10-8 scoring for rounds. I actually support this idea, but don’t think it fixes the problem.
- Survival = Draw – If fighters survive to the end, it is a draw. This is the system (correct me if I’m wrong) currently used in Lethwei. We also saw some of this in early MMA and professional wrestling (TV time-limit draw). I’d like to see a trial run of this. Would fighters try harder to finish? Or would fans just lose interest as we get tremendous amounts of draws?
My plan is simple:
Keep the round-by-round scoring, but the 10-point cards aren’t added up at the end. Instead, the number of the round won, equates to the value and that results in the final scores.
Example: Most people thought Reyes won 1-3 and Jones, 4-5. Reyes gets a score of (1+2+3 = 6), while Jones gets a score of (4+5 = 9). Jones wins 9-6.
Alternate Example: “Non-championship” rounds worth 1, “Championship” rounds worth 2. Reyes (1+1+1 = 3), Jones (2+2 = 4). Jones wins 4-3.
It sounds crazy at first, but coming from a boxing fanbase, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “MMA is more of a real fight than boxing”. I agree and in a real fight, there are no rounds and it may not be over until it is really over, until someone gets incapacitated or worse. In such a fight, which is more important, the first 10 seconds or the last? If a fighter (Reyes) dances around another (Jones) on the streets and then gets gassed, how do you think that fight is going to end up?
Increasing importance should be placed on the end of the fight. Furthermore, it is the last thing that people remember, whether someone makes a strong comeback, or both fighters are horribly gassed.
The only downside is that in 3 round fights, the first example almost definitely results in more draws, while the second has zero impact. I think we can either live with that or make some tweaks.
Watching Reyes compile those points in the first three rounds reminded me of why I’ve mostly moved on from boxing, while watching Jones finish strong made me miss it. Boxing has had some of the greatest sports moments coming down to the close of a fight and perhaps a change like this could see MMA join that club. Imagine how much more exciting fights would be, coming to the final bell? Think about it.