Nick Lembo of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board adds some perspective on two controversial decisions recently within MMA. I only bring them up because Lembo's responses naturally appeal to common sense, something lost amidst the discussion about how to judge or change the scoring system.
Fighters like Lyoto Machida have changed the way we traditionally view "octagon control" with his evasive tactics of defense. His modus operandi can be fairly accurately described as the definition for effective defense (avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks), but how do you feel his backward movement and counterstriking fits into octagon control? Is a fighter using this strategy generally dictating the pace and location of the fight?
"It depends how it plays out, in the Rua fight, I did not think it was successful."
Can the fighter chasing him down earn points for octagon control if he is having more success offensively despite being "in pursuit"?
"Machida, to me, in a sense, is reminiscent of certain counterpunchers in boxing. They are not pressing forward and pushing the pace but they are responding to your offense and movements, and waiting for openings. Machida should be credited for his counterstriking and his defense, even if he is not moving forward."
The Couture/Vera fight brought up several questions relating to octagon control in the clinch position. If Fighter A is pressing his opponent against the cage and keeping him there, but Fighter B is defending Fighter A’s attempts at the takedown, which fighter would get the nod for octagon control? (Fighter A for dictating the location, and Fighter B would get effective defense in that situation?)
"In the Couture/Vera fight, Couture would get the nod for dictating the location of the bout and Vera would get credit for effectively defending the takedown attempts. In that fight, and in your example, Couture would get a slight nod because Couture was controlling where most of rounds one and three occurred. Even though the takedowns were defended, Vera clearly did not want to be backed up against the cage for that period of time."
I recommend reading the entire interview to get his thoughts on what constitutes 10-8 rounds, whether or not 10-10 rounds should be used, what changes he'd propose for altering the 10-point must system and more.
What I'm repeatedly force to acknowledge reading the sober judgment of competent, experienced professionals is that it is far better to have competent, fair judges in an imperfect system than incompetent judges in a great system. Let's worry about the judges before we began tinkering with the rules.
Photo courtesy MMA Junkie.