I think we all agree that mixed martial arts (MMA) can do a lot better when it comes to the folks who are tasked with scoring Octagon fights, but that’s not up to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or any other promotion, as referees and judges are assigned (and paid) by state athletic commissions.
Except when UFC travels overseas ... where bad things happen.
With a limited talent pool, you’ll often see current or former boxing judges sitting cageside, simply because there is no one else available. That doesn’t sit well with outspoken UFC color commentator, Joe Rogan, who has certainly witnessed his fair share of screwjobs over the last 20 years.
“I think the system sucks,” Rogan said on his official podcast (via MMA Fighting). “The 10-point must system. It’s boxing’s system, it’s not our system. The judges should at least have some martial arts experience, and I know there’s a bunch of them that have never even fucking trained, they just took some courses. It’s horrible and they don’t do anything about it. There’s people that have put in bad decision after bad decision and then you see them still being listed as judges, and you’re like ‘This is crazy.’”
Former featherweight champion, Max Holloway, believes he did enough during his five-round fight against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 245 to walk away with the decision. Similarly, Jose Aldo — who also went down on points last weekend in Las Vegas — claims the judges robbed him of his first bantamweight win.
“They need to fire everyone,” Rogan said. “You know what they need to do? They should hire ex-fighters. It’s like passing a written test but never having driven a car. We should have more than three judges. Nine would be a good number because nine would be a tie-breaker if you had like, four one way, four the other way. I feel like three is ridiculous. Why do you only have three? You know the judges suck already, so why do you only have three people that suck?”
There have been instances of former fighters judging UFC events (sample here), but sooner or later there will be a conflict of interest. If Holly Holm retired next year and became an MMA judge, what light heavyweight title contender would be comfortable with her scoring a Jon Jones fight?
Obviously that’s an isolated (and extreme) example, but no more extreme than having nine people crowded around the cage trying to score a fight. Fuck it, I say we just abolish rounds and time limits altogether and let people fight until someone gets finished.