“Never leave it in the hands of the judges” has been a saying too commonly used in mixed martial arts. To say it is one thing but to expect a fighter to live by it is not a solution to the root of the problem.
The job of a combat sports judge is to score a fight based on a set criteria and to the best of their knowledge. A fighters job is to train, promote and fight to the best of their abilities when stepping into a cage or ring.
It is uncommon for a fighter to compete one hundred percent healthy. Training camps to prepare for a fight are long, vigorous and a common conception is that if a fighter steps into a fight one hundred percent health they did not train hard enough.
The best way for the average working person to relate to this would be like having a boss who is irrational, unfair and wrong. If you were to approach your human resource department about the issue, it would be similar to having them say, “Oh well, ignore them or don’t upset them”.
It’s stressful enough for a fighter to put their physical and financial health on the line when they compete. So why not provide them with competent judging like you should in the first place?
There are a few judges in the sport that already have a bad reputation for being inconsistent with scoring fights; so why do MMA promotions allow the commissions to let these judges work their shows? Perhaps what they should be doing is showing more support for the fighters by making requests to the commissions that they will not use these judges.
This will obviously not fully solve the problem and the commissions should be implementing better teaching methods and higher standards for the judges they employ.
One thing that could help the MMA judging improve would be to have former MMA fighters becoming judges when they retire from the sport. Bill Mahood and Ricardo Almeida have recently done just that. Commissions can also look at changing the education process of its judges.
There are currently some fighters who are well known for being content to “grinding out” judges decision in majority of their fights and their fan base size has suffered because of it.
We all know that fans really enjoy a thrilling knockout or slick submission victory by a fighter but some of the greatest fights in MMA have gone the distance.
A few examples of this would be the ever famous Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar bout at The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale, Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79 and Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua which took place at UFC 139 and nominated for “Fight of the Year” by Fighters Only.
In summary, just because a certain president of a certain MMA organization’s solution to bad judging is telling his fighters “not to go the distance in fights”, do not let it blind you from the root of the problem.
Written by: Jay Russell – @VENDETTA_MMA