MMA judging and the Ten-Point Must system

The Holloway-Volkanovski fight reminds me of the issue of judging in MMA these days. Its problems are legion, but perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the 10-Point Must System is that it doesn’t permit nuance. Whether you secure a round with a last-minute takedown or via a five-minute mauling, the judges will almost invariably award a score of 10-9. Of course, 10-8 rounds could be handed out more liberally, but this comes with its own problems. With the vast majority of MMA bouts being three-round affairs, a two-point deficit becomes almost insurmountable.

To me, PRIDE had a great overall idea of scoring the totality of the fight, as opposed to giving points. I would like to put this debate out here and see what you guys think about how MMA judging could improve.


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For me personally, I think there needs to be an accountability and review of performance for these judges. MMA needs to hold judges accountable for the scores they give.Too many times do you see the cards and one judge has a 10-8 Fighter A, one has 10-9 Fighter B, another has 10-9 Fighter A.

For example, to be in the Super Bowl, every referee is rated and judged on his performance. So when you get to the Super Bowl, you know that the referees there are the best the NFL has to offer. They should do the same for MMA.

EDIT: To add, they might do this now and I just don’t know. In that case, maybe the scoring system needs to improve, as the OP has discussed.


I would agree that there needs to be more accountability for some of these scorecards. It doesn’t have to be public, but when a scorecard is read that is widely deemed as nonsensical, I think these judges should be sat down and interviewed on how they reached the conclusions they did.

Also, from what perspective do the judges view the fight? Do they get monitors? I’m not sure. If they’re watching the fight from the audience cage side, I actually think that’s a problem. They should be watching the fight through the clearest means available.

The problem I could see with a PRIDE scoring style being implemented in a UFC style fight, is I could see a lot of judges more or less forgetting the first two rounds and just scoring the final five minutes. I do think the best solution would be to be more liberal with 10-8, 10-7 rounds etc. For example, a close round could be scored a 10-9, while a clear round (like rounds 1 & 2 of Holloway/Volkanovski 2), would be scored a 10-8. A very dominant round would warrant a 10-7 score, and even a 10-6 if it was a real one sided beatdown. 10-10’s are also never used, and perhaps that should be changed as well. Why did Derrick Lewis beat Francis Ngannou 30-27? There were at least two 10-10 rounds in that fight, but the judges feel the need to pick a winner so the fight doesn’t end in a draw. But why? If it’s ultimately an even fight, then that’s how it should be scored!

Basically, the entirety of judging culture needs to be changed if were ever going to see any improvements in the scoring system. And to the point of early scoring deficits being to large to overcome, there’s always one way to take the judges out of the equation, and this more liberal scoring could make fighters more hungry to pursue finishes after dropping an early round.

Another factor is the amount of judges. Many people have advocated for having 5 judges as opposed to 3. Personally, I’ve watched just enough boxing to think that wouldn’t really solve anything, but it could be worth exploring as well.