Keith Kizer discusses potential problems with open scoring system

Ethan Miller

NSAC executive director Keith Kizer explains why he doesn't think open scoring is a good fit for the fight game.

Open scoring has often been discussed as a possible solution for the epidemic of bad scoring in MMA and boxing. It has has gotten a test spin here and there in boxing, usually with scores in 12 round championship bouts being announced after the fourth and eighth rounds. Fans of the idea like that fighters would know exactly what the score is during the fight and could adjust accordingly to make up for poor judging.

Traditionally, the system has been rejected by boxing fans and participants. It changes the way fights are fought, often for the worse, places odd pressure on judges to line up scoring with colleagues and also is an issue for the television broadcasts as fans may tune out when they know that one fighter has no chance to win after eight rounds.

Perhaps most importantly, it also hasn't prevented questionable scoring.

Ben Fowlkes of MMA Junkie spoke to Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) executive director Keith Kizer who gave his reasoning for why he doesn't favor the idea of going to an open scoring system:

"First of all, you could have people throwing beer bottles and all that," Kizer said. "Secondly, even if they don’t throw beer bottles, the judges – and I’ve talked to some of them about this – they’d be afraid. They’d be looking behind them during the next round. Then the rest of the fight after that, there’s the potential for the judges to be distracted."

There’s also the potential for the judges to be influenced by hearing one another’s scores, Kizer said. If you’re a judge who scored the first four rounds for one fighter while your colleagues have it more evenly split, "There’s going to be some pressure on you to feel like you should give the fifth round to the other guy."

The other concern is how it might affect fighters, and our perceptions of them. Forget about them playing it safe in the final round. Many of them already do that when they know they’re ahead, Kizer said, "But so what? They take a knee in football. It’s part of sports."

Kizer also mentioned the idea of a tired fighter who knows he is in the lead choosing to not continue after an accidental foul.

It's a system that will always have its supporters and detractors. And maybe it's worth seeing how it would work in MMA with a trial run in smaller promotions before going to the big time.

But I sincerely doubt it ever gets anywhere permanently.

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