From the desk of Corey Schafer, President of the ISKA
1. The athlete who wins the fight should also be assured of winning the MMA bout on the scorecards.
2. Commissions that fail to require continuing education for their officials are failing to do their job.
3. The industry's biggest fights should be officiated by the industry's best officials, rather than the best officials living in that jurisdiction.
The purpose of a well-defined scoring criteria and numerical scoring system is to ensure that the athlete who is awarded a judge’s decision actually fought better than their opponent. When this doesn’t happen it is either a defect in the scoring system, in the competence of the judges, or both.
I am a proponent of the ½ points scoring system (or 5-point scoring system – they are both really the same thing). The only effective way to create a scoring system is to begin by determining a reasonable number of descriptive results for any given round and then assign point values based on the perceived margin of victory. I think that there are 4four different reasonable results for any given round.
Results of the Round Numerical Scores
A Marginal Victory 10-9.5 (or 5-4)
A Clear Victory 10-9 (or 5-3)
A Dominant Victory 10-8.5 (or 5-2)
An Overwhelming Victory 10-8 (or 5-1)
If we agree that our judges scoring should “paint a portrait of the bout,” then we must agree that we are currently asking them to “paint with a roller.” The same score, 10-9, is used for winning a no-action round by a single weak takedown AND for winning the round by what sometimes can be perceived as a dominant advantage, and everything in between. The increased use of the score 10-8 for rounds won by a “big” margin has helped, but it still reduces the judges options to giving credit or giving double credit. This can result in the final scores that do not accurately reflect the action of the bout.
When we combine the limitations of the scoring system with the fact that it is being applied by judges who often have no continuing education requirement, and haven’t had training or certification in a decade (if at all), then it is easy to see why we have problems. Our world-class athletes demonstrate a lifetime of commitment and sacrifice to their craft. They literally are putting everything on the line when the cage door closes. As an industry, we need to better ensure that ALL of our officials are held to a standard worthy of our athletes and their commitment.
And, we must stop allowing the “tail to wag the dog” when it comes to officials assignments. Commissions need to stop feeling obliged to assign “local” officials to our industry's biggest, most high-profile bouts. Yes, assign local officials who have earned the opportunity to the show, but our biggest, most high-profile bouts must be officiated by our industry's best and most proven officials. Is that fair to the local officials? My answer is, “I don’t care!” Our sport is about our athletes, and our job is to better ensure that Monday morning after a big fight everyone is talking about the fighters and not the officials.