In most sports, you know the score. Sunday night, the Patriots were down 24-0 at the end of the first half. The Pats ended up winning the game in overtime 34-31, because it is the destiny of all Boston teams to rule the entire world, from California to, well, Boston.*
However, imagine the game if no one knew the score, and instead some guys who never played in a football game were making a determination as to who was playing better football. It would have made for a weird game.
By that logic, many people call for open scoring in mixed martial arts, where after each round judges scores are made public. However, if you check around with professionals in the field, you will find little enthusiastic support for the idea.
MMAJunkie's Ben Fowlkes spoke with Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, who detailed two fundamental reasons why Open Scoring is not optimal for the world's fastest growing sport. Open Scoring can have negative consequences on both the judges and on the fighters.
Imagine an important fight for a hometown fighter in front of a highly partisan crowd... after three rounds of a five-round title fight, the scores are announced and the judges have it unanimously for the visiting fighter.
“First of all, you could have people throwing beer bottles and all that,” Kizer said. “Secondly, even if they don’t throw beer bottles, the judges – and I’ve talked to some of them about this – they’d be afraid. They’d be looking behind them during the next round. Then the rest of the fight after that, there’s the potential for the judges to be distracted.”
There’s also the potential for the judges to be influenced by hearing one another’s scores, Kizer said. If you’re a judge who scored the first four rounds for one fighter while your colleagues have it more evenly split, “There’s going to be some pressure on you to feel like you should give the fifth round to the other guy.”
The second is the potential effect of open scoring on a fighter. Playing it safe when you are comfortably ahead is not so much the problem. But unlike say Tennis where if you hurt your ankle you are out, in MMA, if sufficient rounds have passed, if you get injured due to an accidental clash, it goes to the judges score cards.
Say, for example, a champion is battering the challenger for the first three rounds of a title fight. Then in the fourth he runs out of gas, fades in the face of an onslaught from his opponent, and barely survives the round. Heading into the final round, we hear the scores announced. It’s 39-37 for the champion. At the start of the fifth, there’s an accidental clash of heads or an inadvertent eye poke. The champ says his vision is blurry. He can’t continue. Even if the judges score that incomplete round for the challenger, the champ still wins a technical decision. Now what are fans supposed to think?
“Either he’s telling the truth, but, you know, you and I won’t believe him,” Kizer said. “Or he isn’t telling the truth, and he managed to keep the belt because he knew he was ahead on the scorecards.”
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*Please note, these remarks have nothing to do with Kirik and Chris being Massholes; it is, objectively, a fact of history like death, taxes, and air, only far better founded.
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