Who are you to judge me?

As a jumping off point, I suggest everyone revisits the ABC's unified rules framework as a reminder of how the modern judging system is designed to be implemented. I could be very much mistaken, but it seems to me that many people approach the judging question with fundamental misconceptions of the unified rules, resulting in more noise than discourse.

A round of MMA, under the unified rules, is much more like a balance than a scoreboard. No technique "scores points", rather, rounds are to be awarded based on the relative effectiveness of the two competitors. The judge's role is to be knowledgeable and attentive enough to adjudicate which of the competitors was more effective.

If the fighters were equally effective, or indeed if neither one was effective at all, then the rules provide for a draw round. If one of the fighters was particularly dominant, the rules provide for giving 10-8 or 10-7 rounds. These stipulations allow for the judging to account for differing margins of effectiveness within a bout.

The rules state that effective striking is to be judged higher than equally effective grappling, followed by fighting area control and finally effective aggressiveness and defense. This hierarchy helps to structure the way of looking at a round of action, but it does not, can not, and should not remove the element of subjectivity from judging. Subjectivity is a desired aspect of the current rule paradigm, and indeed plays a role in every sort of athletic judging that I can think of.

The pitfall of subjectivity is that it is only as sound as the mind in question. Judges who are unwilling or unable to issue consistent and appropriate decisions are the actual problem with judging. The current rule framework might not be perfect, but in the hands of competent officials, they are, in my opinion, a highly suitable and appropriate framework.

I see very little evidence of any athletic commissions taking a proactive stance of monitoring the quality of their judges, which is lamentable. To my mind, the only way improvements will come about any time soon would be for a decision to so rankle a significant promotion—I have Zuffa in mind—as to cause them to exert public pressure on the commissions to improve their product.

That being said, I despair even of this hope, because it seems that that the preeminent promotions have thrown their hands up at the questionable state of judging and adopted a position of "don't leave it in the hands of the judges." This is a logical fall-back from a promotional and competitive stand-point, but I see it also as a cop out.

Revisiting the rules, changing the scoring, or implementing an objective point-based system might, in some theoretical sense, improve the potential for appropriate judging outcomes in MMA. Again, in my opinion the current rules and scoring system are quite acceptable. Either way, however, incompetent judges will continue to deliver incomprehensible decisions so long as they are allowed to do so by their employers.

Edited for grammar and whatnot. I just can't compose digitally, a pity.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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