It would answer a lot of questions if officials were willing to write short, public opinions on each effort scored as a means of shedding light on what sort of insight is going into their decisions. For example, explain what it was GSP did in the first round earning him a nod over Hendricks in that particular frame (or vice-versa). In addition to possibly giving upset fans a new perspective, it would show the specific things judges are looking for when it comes to awarding wins instead of being so secretive about the process. It’s interesting to think about how much power judges have in MMA while, for the most part, staying in the shadows. Fans and media complain about in-ring robberies, yet how many could pick Sal D’Amato and Tony Weeks out of a police lineup? The UFC needs to shine a spotlight on the judges before each fight and afterwards when a decision is read. Show a stock photo alongside scores, have broadcasters focus on who the questionable scores come from, and in general make people more aware of who is behind the outcomes they’re upset about. With more public recognition, judges are certain to up their game when it comes to consistently performing their jobs at a high level. If the UFC truly has a problem with the impact judges are having on the sport of MMA the organization needs to put a chunk of cash behind the cause and attack it internally. There have to be ways to change the lack of oversight from athletic commissions when it comes to lackluster judging or bring in professionals internally like the MMA does with referees. It’s time to hire some lawyers to dig through the required books and start working on ways to re-build judging from the ground up. It may be a small concession, but requiring training would be a nice step for athletic commissions to implement. Though there are certainly some judges who have a firm understanding of MMA, others are relatively clueless about the intricacies involved. They see a takedowns and top control as the most important aspect of a fight, often ignoring submissions/attacks from the bottom or escapes. Annual training hours are required for countless jobs out there. Why shouldn’t the same be required for paid officials on the MMA front? Perhaps it’s time to take a look at the rules the UFC operates under and see if things can be tweaked. The public has a better understanding of MMA as being a legitimate sport instead of underground cage-fighting, so some changes could be in order. For instance, is the “Ten Point Must” system really necessary? After all, it’s not as though numbers 1-6 ever come into play. Also, is the wording as clearly defined as it should be when it comes to how certain techniques or positions are scored? Major sports organizations like the NFL and MLB hold annual meetings to examine internal procedures. Following suit would be a nice step for the UFC as long as athletic commissions are on board.
The outrage over the scoring in Saturday night’s showdown between
UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and top contender Johny Hendricks was widespread with everyone from fans to former fighters to UFC President Dana White labeling it as an embarrassing example of officiating. Of course, strange scorecards are nothing new, and fighters have been told to avoid going the distance for years based on the risk involved by leaving the result in judges’ hands. Hopefully, the blunder occurring on a stage as large as will create the motivation necessary to finally address the problem in 2014. While human error will always factor into fights on some level, judging can be dramatically improved by implementing a few simple fixes. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 167