Is it time to bring in real time scoring in MMA?

MMA fighters stand-off. Photo: David Ash/Flickr.

The controversy over real time scoring in mixed martial arts events has reached Australia, with calls for it to be introduced.

As it stands now, the only time the scorecards are revealed is at the end of the three rounds, or in championship and main event bouts at the conclusion of the fifth round.

The proposed fix is after each round the score will become known to the fighters corners, the broadcast team and the spectators in attendance.

After controversial judging decisions during UFC 247 at the Toyota Center, Houston, Texas, the Kansas City Athletic Commission announced they will experiment with real time scoring from the start of March.

Former UFC & current RIZIN fighter Damien Brown told Hatch he is “100 per cent” on board with the idea of real time scoring.

“If I knew going into the final round I was down then I would try to finish the fight,” he said. “I think it’s good for the fans, the promotion and the fighters.

“I believe it’ll lead to accountability for the judges as well as knowing that the score is live.”  

Adam Roorbach, Kansas boxing commissioner, told ESPN: “The use of real-time scoring is up to the promoter and the commission will be flexible to the promoter’s desires. It doesn’t have to be used at all; it can be used for some fights and not others; and the scoring information can be given only to select people in between rounds.”

Invicta FC, an all-women MMA promotion will be first to use real time scoring for Invicta FC: Phoenix series 3, taking place at Memorial Hall, Kansas City, on March 6.

The controversy reignited at UFC 247 in the championship bout between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes which ended in a controversial win for Jones. Further judging of round one in the James Krause and Trevor Giles match-up, and the decision in the bout between Andre Ewell and Jonathan Martinez added to complaints.

Several other fighters shared their thoughts on the topic on Twitter following UFC 247, with Max Holloway spearheading the proposal for change.

Real time scoring won’t be the sole cure to fixing the issues of bad judging decisions. Joe Rogan & Dominick Cruz post fight criticised the ‘incompetent judging’ and poor scoring system.

Brown believes judges should have fight experience.

“At least BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), striking training,” he said. “They should’ve trained, competed and/or been exposed to heavy MMA education.”

Rogan & Cruz called for the best minds, journalists and fighters to find a way to agree on a scoring system that makes more sense, to work with the commissions.

Brown suggested having five or even seven judges will bring improvement.

“It eliminates a risk of one making an error,” he added. “Or more importantly I think it provides enough judges to get it right, that one bad call won’t make a difference.”

In a majority of sport outside combat sports, every player, team and fan knows what the score is at all times as play progresses. However, some believe introducing open scoring in MMA could actually make fighters engage less if they think they’re ahead.

Another potential issue could be if fans’ reactions affect judging decisions.

Real time scoring is not brand new to combat sports. WBC has real time scoring after the fourth and eighth rounds and Glory Kickboxing between rounds, both in certain jurisdictions.

Main image by David Ash/Flickr.