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5 reasons why open scoring is the need of the hour in the UFC

Holly Holm is one of many fighters who could have benefitted from open scoring
Holly Holm is one of many fighters who could have benefitted from open scoring
Ivan Derrick

At seemingly every UFC event these days, there is a highly controversial judge's decision that the vast majority of fans believe was incorrect.

This has been going on for some time now, and it seems vital that the UFC finds a solution. Open scoring would go along way towards improving the current situation.

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An increased number of members of the MMA world, including fighters, coaches and media, have called for open scoring to be introduced to the UFC. While it may not be the perfect fix-all for the UFC, there are a number of reasons why it would be a smart idea for the organization to adopt open scoring.

Here are five reasons why open scoring is needed in the UFC:


#5. It has been successful elsewhere

Korean Zombie vs. Yair Rodriguez took place in Colorado which now offers open scoring
Korean Zombie vs. Yair Rodriguez took place in Colorado which now offers open scoring

It’s important to note that open scoring is not some unrealistic idea that couldn't work if it was implemented. Open scoring has been utilized in a number of organizations—most notably Invicta FC. It has also been adopted by some state commissions, namely Kansas and Colorado thus far.

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The president of Invicta FC, Shannon Knapp, explained that moving to open scoring has been a positive change and that was well-received by her athletes. “I have to tell you, we have had nothing but positive comments," Knapp told Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour.

The success of open scoring in other organizations means there is no reason it could not be adopted by the UFC. They would not need to worry about the logistics of developing a system to incorporate open scoring and could instead copy other systems to enact the change right away.

#4. It is easier to fix than judging

Michael Johnson suffered a controversial split decision loss last weekend
Michael Johnson suffered a controversial split decision loss last weekend

In an ideal world where judges always come to the correct decision, there may not be a need for open scoring. However, as UFC fans everywhere know, we have seen (and continue to see) non-sensical scorecards on a regular basis. This past weekend, many felt Michael Johnson was robbed of a victory over Jamie Mullarkey.

However, fixing judging is an incredibly difficult task. MMA is still a young sport that in development, and the scoring system it uses is borrowed from the world of boxing. Many of the judges involved in the sport have not practiced MMA, so expecting them to to be perfect is simply unrealistic.

Matt Brown: ‘It blows my mind’ that UFC doesn’t have open scoring mmafighting.com/2022/3/30/2300… https://t.co/qeh0R71Ate

Improving judging is definitely something the sport of MMA needs, but that could take years to come to fruition. Open scoring, on the other hand, could be introduced overnight. While it would not prevent bad scorecards, at least fighters would understand they were being robbed and be able to do something about it.


#3. Fighters would know where they stand

Rose Namajunas (L) vs. Carla Esparza (R) II
Rose Namajunas (L) vs. Carla Esparza (R) II

In virtually every other sport in existence, the athletes competing understand where they stand whilst they are doing so. Soccer, basketball, and tennis are all examples of sports that would make no sense if the athletes had no idea of the score.

Fighters risk so much every time they enter the octagon that it seems only fair they know who is winning or losing. At present, a fighter can, and often does, feel as though they are winning a fight only to discover they have lost after the bout is over. Open scoring would eliminate that problem from the sport.

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With open scoring, UFC fighters would be able to make adjustments after seeing how the fight is being scored. If they were to learn that they are behind on the scorecards, a competitor could then change their approach. This would be a vast improvement over the current guessing game.

#2. Potential for fights to become more exciting

Jon Jones (L) vs. Dominick Reyes (R)
Jon Jones (L) vs. Dominick Reyes (R)

When fighters know what the outlook of the bout is, whoever is losing is going to become more aggressive to try and turn things in their favor. The would no longer be scenarios where two fighters ease off, each thinking they are winning the fight. Watching a fighter who is down two rounds trying to get a finish could be thrilling.

"MMA, boxing, kickboxing might be the only sports on the planet where you don't know where you stand!""End of first round, dramatic pause, scoreboard says 10-9 Reyes, place explodes!"@arielhelwani has a bold idea for how open scoring might work in MMA...And we love it 😍 https://t.co/XozajwQ7TZ

Those against open scoring like to suggest that it could have the opposite affect. They would argue that fighters up two rounds on the scorecards would ease up and coast, leading to less entertaining third rounds. However, attempting to coast whilst locked in a cage with a trained fighter is unlikely to be a realistic strategy.

Instead, open scoring could produce some incredible moments in the UFC. Imagine the crowd reaction to learning that Dominick Reyes had taken the opening round from Jon Jones in their title fight. The crowd would have gone crazy, and Jones may have then taken more risks to turn the tide of the fight.


#1. Fighter pay is affected

Fighters dream of making 'Conor McGregor money'
Fighters dream of making 'Conor McGregor money'

It seems incredibly unfair that fighters can lose half their pay cheque due to bad judging, but they can't do anything about it. Most fighters in the UFC receive a sum of show money for competing, and then that money is doubled should they win. At present, this huge financial difference is often dependent on guess work.

With judges consistently producing confusing scorecards, fighters should have a chance to go out and chase a result that will have huge implications for them and their families. This is their profession, their livelihoods on the line, and it is simply not right that half their pay cheques can disappear due to a judging error.

The strawweight contest between Kay Hansen and Liana Pirosin became the first fight in modern MMA history to utilize open scoring, with @KayHansenMMA taking the clean sweep from the judges. #PhoenixSeries3 https://t.co/Sl8StlPRjA

Open scoring is not a cure-all for the sport of MMA, but it would be a vast improvement on the current situation with no foreseeable negative impact. It would be a change that would benefit the fighters significantly, and if you are truly a fan of the athletes in the UFC, you should really be in support of it.

Edited by kennedyking2016

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