How Should a Judge View Illegal Moves Without a Point Deduction?


If you're a fan of mixed martial arts, you've undoubtably seen this before. A fighter uses an illegal move, whether accidentally or on purpose, but a point isn't taken away, and the effect of that move clearly influences the final result. I'm not necessarily saying that a point should be taken immediately for illegal moves, but when the damage is done, what can we expect to happen?

The question I'd like to ask is: how should a judge view this situation? I understand that in many of these cases, the judge's scores may not even be relevant if the fight is finished, but should the judge take these situations into consideration when scoring a round? Should the effect of the move be used, not as a powerful influence, but as a tiebreaker of sorts?

My answer: Yes, but it's complicated.

I am aware of the current judging criteria, and although I don't like it, there's no changing it, so it might as well remain in place. With that in consideration, a judge would have to analyze what they thought was affected by the illegal attack.

Some examples:

  • Fighter A takes shot to the groin, Fighter B is given a warning. As the round progresses, it is clear that Fighter A has been backtracking a lot and has been far more defensive since the landing of the illegal strike. All else is even. I'd give the round 10-9 to fighter A, because the "control" exhibited by fighter B can easily be traced to the landing of an illegal strike.
  • Fighter A is spiked on his head by Fighter B. Fighter B retains ground control for the rest of the round, landing good, but not significant strikes, and maintaining dominant position. I would score this 10-10, because although Fighter B may have remained dominant for a majority of the round, he hasn't done enough to negate his use of the illegal spike. In a similar case, where the head spike occurs and Fighter B has shown enough dominance where under normal circumstances he could have deserved a 10-8 round, he is given a 10-9, despite there not being a point deduction.
  • Fighter A is winning the round very convincingly up until about midway through, when Fighter B illegally gauges his eye. There is a warning, but no point deduction. For the rest of the round, Fighter B takes over the striking battles, with Fighter A coming up short much of the time. Under normal circumstances, it is fairly common for a judge to score the latter parts of the round more heavily than the earlier parts, in which case Fighter B may have warranted a 10-9. However, in these circumstances, if Fighter A's falling behind doesn't seem to be any issue outside of areas affected by vision impairment, he should win the round 10-9.
Of course, there are many, many factors that could also contribute to round scoring. Even in areas not necessarily directly affected by the utilization of an illegal move, the move can still have a profound effect on the fighter. This system is not a handicap per se, but rather an equalizer when it's needed. Point deductions can be very costly to a fighter, and quite honestly, if a system like the one I described above was implemented, I'd rather see less of them.
I know this system can potentially have major flaws, but in the current state of mixed martial arts judging, flaws seem to be an afterthought for some reason. This is as good a system that considers illegal moves as I can imagine without a complete overhaul of the current judging criteria as a whole.

\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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