Last year, BE's Dallas Winston covered the annual Association of Boxing Commission (ABC) annual conference. For MMA fans, the most impactful ruling to come out of the 2011 conference was the trial period for Doc Hamilton's proposed Half-Point Scoring System from the 2010 meetings. This year, however, the ABC has made several decisions with direct effects on mixed martial arts.
First, the death of the half-point system. After the year-long, voluntary evaluation period granted to the half-point system, the ABC concluded that the system had negligible impact on scoring the outcome of an MMA bout:
It appears that changing the current scoring system, when only a marginal amount of fights would be affected (2% if you reference [the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization, Inc], and 4.85% if you reference [the Edmonton Alberta Athletic Commission]), would not be a significant reason to adopt this change.
The other two participants in the evaluation were the Colorado State Athletic Commission and the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission. Neither organization saw a single effected score using the half point system.
Second, the ABC has decided on a few revisions to the current MMA judging criteria:
1.) Effective Defense removed as a criteria.
2.) Striking and Grappling are now considered to be given equal weight.
3.) The term "damage" will no longer be used as a descriptor when discussing the scoring of a round. It will be replaced by "effective".
Finally, the ABC has clarified and amended the definitions of several terms in the Unified Rules of MMA
1.) "Effective Striking" - Heavier strikes that have a visible impact on the opponent will be given more weight than the number of strikes landed.
2.) "Effective Grappling" - judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown, reversals and submission attempts.
3.) "Effective Aggression" - moving forward scoring with a legal technique or attacking from the guard with threatening submissions.
4.) "Cage/Ring Control" - dictating the pace, place and position of the fight.
Finally, the ABC attempts to clarify the criteria that defines what scores are applicable based on the action in the round of a fight:
1. A round is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows superiority by even a close margin. This score should rarely be used.
2. A round is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, demonstrating effective grappling, and utilizing other effective legal techniques.
3. A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a contestant wins by a large margin, by effective striking and or effective grappling that have great impact on the opponent.
4. A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a contestant totally dominates by effective striking and or effective grappling, which put the opponent in great danger throughout the round. In a 10-7 round referee stoppage may be eminent. This score should rarely be used.
Hit the jump for the ABC's justification and explanation of the Unified Rules changes and adjustments.
Removal of effective defense:
1. The committee believes that offensive actions should be the only criteria used to score MMA matches. Offensive fighters are fighters which carry the fight and push the action, and make the fight happen.
2. Defense is its own reward. A fighter who chooses to avoid using defensive actions will invariably suffer the consequences. For example if a fighter decides that they do not want to block or avoid a strike, protect themselves from a submission, or avoid a throw or takedown then they will suffer the results of those offensive actions being used against them. The only role defensive action plays is to keep a fighter in the fight longer so that they can attempt to score using offensive actions.
3. Having two fighters avoid offensive actions and rely solely on defense goes against the basic primary consideration of any combative sport: To score using offense.
Equal consideration of Striking and Grappling:
The old scoring system rewarded striking (as a primary consideration) more than grappling. Mixed Martial Arts is based on two skill sets - striking and grappling. The committee felt that grappling should not be a secondary factor in determining the outcome of a match. Grappling has a definitive skill set and athleticism and offensive capabilities which when used correctly can effectively end a fight. As such grappling skills should be rewarded and given equal weight to striking.
Removal of "damage" as a scoring descriptor:
1. The legal considerations surrounding the term "Damage" as a descriptor were given considerable weight and as such the committee felt that using the word "Damage" may contribute to the potential for liability in the event of any litigation that commissions may find themselves involved in.
2. The sport of MMA is still relatively new and has not received sanctioning in various jurisdictions. The committee felt that "Damage" as a descriptor may play a factor in helping to determine future sanctioning if the term was taken out of context with many opposed to MMA as a sport.
3. ABC Instructors who currently use this as part of their teaching curriculum are advised to make any and all subsequent modifications to their course material.
New definition of "Effective Striking":
Judged by determining the impact of legal strikes landed by a contestant and the number of such legal strikes. Heavier strikes that have a visible impact on the opponent will be given more weight than the number of strikes landed. These assessments include causing an opponent to appear stunned from a legal blow, causing the opponent to stagger, appearance of a cut or bruise from a legal strike and causing the opponent to show pain. Cumulative impact on a fighter will also be weighed. If neither fighter shows an advantage in impact of strikes, the number of strikes will determine the most effective striker.
New defnition of "Effective Grappling":
Judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown, reversals and submission attempts. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to a dominant position, and bottom position fighters using an active, threatening guard to create submission attempts. Submission attempts which come close to ending a fight will be weighted more highly than attempts which are easily defended. Submission attempts which cause an opponent to weaken or tire from the effort required to defend the technique will also be weighted highly in scoring. High amplitude takedowns and throws which have great impact will be scored more heavily than a takedown which does not have great impact.