Shane Burgos and Charles Jourdain put on a spirited featherweight bout on the recent UFC Long Island fight card. Burgos won the contest via majority decision: 29-28, 29-28, 28-28. After the fight, there were some questions about the scoring of the second and third rounds of the contest.
Judge Mike Bell gave the second stanza to Burgos 10-8, while judges Eric Colon and Chris Lee had the round for Burgos at 10-9. With that, there were also questions about how the third round was not a 10-8 round in favor of Jourdain.
With those questions still lingering, I took a deep dive into the final 10 minutes of the excellent contest between the two 145-pounders.
For background on the “Scouring the Scoring” series and details on the review process, GO HERE.
The first thing one needs to do in scoring a fight is mute the commentary. Biases can seep into commentary and even worse, the UFC commentary team often provides incorrect information as to the scoring criteria, which can influence those who hear it. However, credit where it is due, they are getting better in that regard. The second thing one needs to do is get familiar with the prioritized criteria in MMA scoring — especially the first criteria, which is “effective striking/grappling.”
“Legal blows that have immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute towards the end of the match with the IMMEDIATE weighing in more heavily than the cumulative impact. Successful execution of takedowns, submission attempts, reversals and the achievement of advantageous positions that produce immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute to the end of the match, with the IMMEDIATE weighing more heavily than the cumulative impact.”
It shall be noted that a successful takedown is not merely a changing of position, but the establishment of an attack from the use of the takedown.
The third thing one needs to do for the Burgos vs. Jourdain fight is look at the scoring of a 10-9 round vs. the scoring of a 10-8 round.
“A 10 9 Round in MMA is where one combatant wins the round by a close margin.”
A 10 9 round in MMA is the most common a score a judge assesses during the night. If, during the round, the judge sees a fighter land the better strikes, or utilize effective grappling during the competition, even if by just one technique over their opponent, the judge shall give the winning fighter a score of 10 while assessing the losing fighter a score of 9 or less.
A 10 8 Round in MMA is where one fighter wins the round by a large margin.
A 10 8 round in MMA is not the most common score a judge will render, but it is absolutely essential to the evolution of the sport and the fairness to the fighters that judges understand and effectively utilize the score of 10 8. A score of 10 8 does not require a fighter to dominate their opponent for 5 minutes of a round. The score of 10 8 is utilized by the judge when the judge sees verifiable actions on the part of either fighter. Judges shall ALWAYS give a score of 10 8 when the judge has established that one fighter has dominated the action of the round, had duration of the domination and also impacted their opponent with either effective strikes or effective grappling maneuvers that have diminished the abilities of their opponent.
Judges must CONSIDER giving the score of 10 8 when a fighter shows dominance in the round even though no impactful scoring against the opponent was achieved. MMA is an offensive based sport. No scoring is given for defensive maneuvers. Using smart, tactically sound defensive maneuvers allows the fighter to stay in the fight and to be competitive. Dominance of a round can be seen in striking when the losing fighter continually attempts to defend, with no counters or reaction taken when openings present themselves. Dominance in the grappling phase can be seen by fighters taking DOMINANT POSITIONS in the fight and utilizing those positions to attempt fight ending submissions or attacks. If a fighter has little to no offensive output during a 5 minute round, it should be normal for the judge to consider awarding the losing fighter 8 points instead of 9.
Judges must CONSIDER giving the score of 10 8 when a fighter IMPACTS their opponent significantly in a round even though they do not dominate the action. Effectiveness in striking or grappling which leads to a diminishing of a fighter’s energy, confidence, abilities and spirit. All of these come as a direct result of negative impact. When a fighter is hurt with strikes, showing a lack of control or ability, these can be defining moments in the fight. If a judge sees that a fighter has been significantly damaged in the round the judge should CONSIDER the score of 10 8.
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain Round 2:
Burgos completed his one takedown on one attempt in Round 2 with 3:52 left in the round. From there, he was stuck to Jourdain’s back for the rest of the round. No matter what defense Jourdain employed, he could not shake Burgos. He made Burgos work for positions and prevented him from employing a high output ground striking attack, but Jourdain failed to mount any offense of his own. Burgos put Jourdain in some danger in the last minute of the round via a neck crank.
My scoring of Round 2: 10-9 for Burgos
Burgos controlled the round, but he did not dominate it. The key two-word phrase in the judging that prevents me from going with a 10-8 is, “verifiable actions.” Burgos was controlling Jourdain with the body lock, but he did not take those “verifiable actions” to pursue ending the fight until the final minute when he applied the neck crank and then adjusted to look for a rear-naked choke. As the criteria states, “Dominance in the grappling phase can be seen by fighters taking DOMINANT POSITIONS in the fight and utilizing those positions to attempt fight ending submissions or attacks.” Outside of the final minute, Burgos did not have a “dominant position.”
Burgos also failed in this regard: “diminishing of a fighter’s energy, confidence, abilities and spirit.” Jourdain never broke, nor did he give up on fighting to better his position. To be clear, Jourdain did not score any offense on the mat, but his “energy, confidence, abilities and spirit” were not reduced in a meaningful way.
This was not a close 10-9 round, but it was not a 10-8 round. However, had Burgos had more than half of the round in the position where he finished the second stanza, I think scoring this round becomes much more difficult.
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain Round 3:
The third round was excellent for Jourdain for the first four minutes. He controlled the pace and location of the fight. His offensive output dictated everything about those first four minutes, but he didn’t score a knockdown and it didn’t seem like he was close to getting the finish. In fact, when it looked like he was about to put Burgos in real danger - the final 60 seconds of the fight — Burgos closed the distance and used his wrestling to stop the offensive onslaught of his opponent.
My scoring of Round 3: 10-9 for Jourdain
This round comes down to perception of domination and I think scoring this round from a television broadcast might have some influence on my scoring. Judging from cageside, Jourdain’s offensive output could have appeared to been much more damaging and effective than it appeared on the broadcast. I didn’t find that Burgos was in danger of being finished. However, UFC broadcasters Jon Anik, Paul Felder and Daniel Cormier felt that way.
“Burgos could be in real trouble here,” Anik said with 50 seconds left in the contest.
“It could have been a matter of getting finished,” said Felder.
“It looked like he was melting, added Cormier.
Had one judge not scored the second round 10-8, there would not have been an issue with this round being scored 10-9.
My scoring of the fight: 29-28 for Burgos
More 10-8 rounds?
My biggest issue with 10-9 rounds is that some are stuck in the mindset that in order to get a 10-8 round a fighter must nearly finish the fight or as UFC president Dana White incorrectly said after UFC 259, “Now when I came up in the fight business, a 10-8 round was an ass whupping,” White continued. “You got your ass whupped. You didn’t do s—t in that round and got beat down if it was a 10-8. They gotta stop giving — this 10-8 s—t is out of control right now. So hopefully we can get this fixed. They’re going to be screwing up a lot of fights if they’re handing out 10-8s like that. There was no 10-8 in that fight.”
Things have changed since White “came up” and the wording of how a 10-8 round is scored reflects those changes.
White and everyone else who remains stuck in the “back in my day” way of thinking needs to get with the times and read the scoring criteria. We don’t need fewer 10-8 rounds, but we need judges to ignore the attempted influence of a man who is more often than not looking at his phone rather than the action during UFC events.