Don't Let it Go to the Judges...



I have started getting more and more confused by the performances MMA athletes are putting on these days. It seems that fight strategies are becoming more and more central rather than actually pressing the pace, putting it all on the line, and physically going toe to toe or no-gi to no-gi, whichever direction that particular fight goes.

With this shift in fight styles moving towards a focus on conservative point-fighting tactics, I feel that unfortunately more fights are and will continue to go to the judge's scorecards for their ruling on a decision. This comes full-on with complications and fan outcries as subjective scoring systems have a tendency to miss the mark some percentage of the time and polarize the MMA fan base.

This issue is amplified and holds the most importance when considering championship bouts. I feel that it is highly unfortunate for title fights to go to a decision where both fighters typically put in a full camp, training for weeks or months on end, only to have their fight scored by judges who may or may not call it correctly. Whether you put your trust in FightMetric or your own personal scorecards, odds are at some point you disagreed with a judges decision. Especially a split decision ruling.

With that said, in the specific context of title fights, I believe that a rule change should be taken into consideration. It has felt odd for a champion to lose their belt in a title fight when they end up on the wrong side of a split decision. This past Friday night on RFA 8, Lance Palmer won the RFA Featherweight Championship from Jared Downing via split decision (46-48, 48-46, 48-46). If three judges scoring a five-round fight cannot come to a unanimous decision, a rule change should be considered where the fight would be ruled in favor of the defending champion.

Now, this may cause an outcry of its own, but consider for a second that you personally hold the title in your weight class of choice. It's fight night, you put in your best effort in a five round battle with one of the top tier fighters in your division. It goes to a decision and the three judges sitting cage-side couldn't come to a consensus regarding the outcome of the bout. Your opponent's hand is raised, you lose your title, all on what almost feels like a technicality rather than anything objective.

Shouldn't there be a better option at a minimum for championship bouts? A split decision just seems like such a cheap way to lose a title, especially with sayings out there including thoughts such as "you have to beat the champ to be the champ". Is 'winning' a split decision a good enough effort to warrant a changing of the crown?

Let's hear your thoughts Maniacs.

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