20 years ago the rules were no eye gouging, no biting, and no fish hooking. Even then there were people complaining about the rules, and at one point Kimo agreed to a fight in Japan that allowed eye gouging and biting.
Mercifully, it never happened.
The sport grew up, but complaints about the rules remain, most notably of late around the 10-point must system. Borrowed from boxing, this system of judging awards the winner of a round 10 points and the loser 9, or very occasionally 8. Critics charge that boxing has more rounds, up to 12, so the true winner tends to come out, but in a standard three round MMA fight, one fighter can strongly edge out one round, and very narrowly lose two rounds, and still lose, even when in the eyes of onlookers he won the fight overall.
However, one of the great combat sports regulators in history, Marc Ratner, thinks the system largely works. Ratner is Marc Ratner is the current Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the UFC and was formerly the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Ratner places the blame for poor decisions on judges with an incomplete sense of how to interpret offense, defense and what a winning round looks like . He argues that when the judging is sound, the 10-point must system works. He adds that there is no clear alternative that would work better.
"I think it does work," Ratner said on Monday's 'The MMA Hour' with Ariel Helwani. "The problem with that system, whether it be boxing or MMA, is that not all 10-9 rounds are equal. Certainly in a three-round fight, that can skew who wins, but for the most part, most of the decisions are good."
"Every once in a while, you're going to get one that certainly goes against public opinion. But MMA is harder to judge than boxing, in my opinion, because you have to know what's going on on the ground."
"It's an evolving discipline and I think we just have to keep on educating and that's part of my goals. No, I don't think it would be that easy to change. I'm not for the half-point system. I can understand it, but I think if the judges really concentrate and do their job, the ten-point must system can work."
Ratner also had some advice for referee 'Big' John McCarthy who made some pointed remarks last month about current Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission Keith Kizer. McCarthy has questioned the competence of officials in Nevada before, and has not been asked to officiate in the state.
"The truth is, Keith Kizer is a person that does not know combative sports," said McCarthy. "He's never been part of them. He's never done them. He puts people [in positions] at times that maybe shouldn't be put. You tell me why C.J. Ross said the Floyd Mayweather fight was a draw. Did you watch it? My god, I had it 11-1. It wasn't even close. So if you're doing that, you keep putting those same people back, you don't care about the fighters. You don't care about them as athletes, you don't care about their livelihood. And you know what? You shouldn't be in that job. And if someone doesn't like what I said, too bad."
"I don't work for Kieth Kizer. I would work for an athletic commission; love to work for them. I would never work for Keith Kizer. Never. If he's in charge, if he's the executive director, I want nothing to do with it."
Ratner does not believe that the outburst will server McCarthy well.
"I do believe he's one of the top referees in the world and I think you are seeing him more and more," said Ratner. "If I were him, I'd never knock another state commission because the states do band together and they hear that an official is saying something bad about one of their brothers. And I've discussed that with him. I don't think that's the right way to handle it... I think that if he wants to have a complaint, he should do it more internally than externally and not put it out there for the world."
Transcription courtesy of MMAFighting
MMA gear now available at the UG Store