In a high school English class, I was asked to write a 10 page paper about a two line poem. I actually quite like poetry and enjoyed the challenge. The poem was no more than 10 words long, so that quite literally translated to 1 page of writing for each word...pretty ridiculous when you think about it.
Had I been writing a paper about a 300 page novel with rich descriptions, multiple themes, motifs, and foreshadowing, it would have been a far easier task to find 10 pages worth of material worth writing about. Faced with the challenge of a 2 line poem, however, it was quite necessary to over analyze each and every word choice, each and every syllable. I even had to discuss words that the author chose NOT to use and explain why those words would have totally changed the meaning of the poem. In the end, it was a pretty good paper, not so much for the end result, but for the process I was forced to go through as a critic of the written word in order to arrive at 10 pages of analysis.
Last night, Andrei Arlovski and Brendan Schaub combined to give us a 2 line poem throughout rounds 1 and 2 of their contest. I won't say who I scored those rounds for because, if forced to choose a winner, I can make an equally valid argument for either of them coming out ahead given the criteria. The reason is the same as in my 10 page high school English paper. Given such few words to work with, such little data, as a judge, I'm forced to over analyze. I start thinking about what they DIDN'T do and how that could have altered the outcome, I'm forced to think about the smallest of details like how much the red corner turned over his one landed kick versus how much damaging force he endured during the one successful take-down from the blue corner. And, the truth is, if I was scoring an action packed round of effective technique after effective technique of relevant activity, these are the type of details that I would probably be throwing out as irrelevant to the big picture of the round. In the end, unlike my paper, we can't be happy just with the enlightening process that the judges went through to determine a winner in their own creative way. We are talking about fighters' livelihoods here. We need results that can be justified by a clear set of criteria.
In the past, I've playfully battled BE's own Dallas Winston over his "over-use" of the 10-10 round. But, it wasn't until last night that it crystallized for me just when draw rounds might be needed in this sport. What if the criteria had a provision that read:
In a round dominated by inactivity AND ineffectiveness on the part of both fighters, a 10-10 draw is justified and encouraged.
I'm making an important distinction here between a round with very little data like Rounds 1 and 2 of Arlovski vs Schaub and even round 3 of Ramage vs King Mo and a round where two guys are throwing a lot of effective offense and it's a true back and forth affair that's just really close to equal effectiveness. In the latter situation, I'd argue that judges have enough data and should be free to interpret the action using the criteria to choose a winner. In the former situation, I'm saying that we are setting up judges to fail when we force them to over-analyze such a small sample of relevant information.
I'll be curious to hear your feedback in the comments.