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Another One- Khaled Voice

Yo! S’up Homies? Here we go again, another post about judging/scoring in MMA. The horse is lying on its side near turn four of Santa Anita Park, and I’m still kicking it. Joe Rogan has already suggested the most logical "quick fix;" add two more judges to total five. That way, when a fighter looks down on their way back to the stool after dominating a round and notices Adalaide Byrd’s crossed eyes staring up at them, they don’t have to assume they lost the round and make unnecessary adjustments. Five judges would cancel out Adalaide Byrd and any offspring or second cousin of hers also on the panel.

Quick fixes can work; the Captain of the Titanic could've avoided the whole disaster if only there had been a can of FlexSeal onboard. But then maybe Leo Dicap’s career never would’ve taken off, and the Mr. Skin website might be devoid of a Kate Winslet nude scene. But I digress. Many have suggested a new way to distribute points, the equivalent of making a touchdown worth two points, and a field goal worth one. Some of you are probably chilling in your chonies and chanclas right this minute with scoring systems detailed in your heads like Brandon Sanderson has magic systems in his.

I bet some of them would even work, but let’s try to "eliminate" the judges as best as we can. The bottom line is we need more finishes. How do we get them? I don’t believe fighters need more encouragement to finish fights, there’s plenty of that, such as fame, fortune, and legacy. All are by-products of finishing fights and becoming a fan favorite. Fighters need more opportunities to finish fights, more opportunities to take advantage of the opposing fighter’s shortcomings.

Leaving the fight in the hands of the judges isn’t a conscious choice made by fighters in the throes of battle. Matchups make fights, and attributes and abilities can cancel each other out. That’s the reason why sometimes two highly skilled aggressive fighters can combine for a lackluster, boring fight. The higher you climb in the sport, the better the opponents you fight until, hopefully, a fighter is competing against the best in the world. When you have Elite fighters facing off, the chances of a finish often diminish to a degree.

But, even in those types of aforementioned fights, you can decrease the necessity for a judge’s decision with longer rounds. Yes, some old school Pride type of ish. All of you first-generation MMA heads remember the Survival Of The Fittest ten-minute first round—the judges also scored the fight as a whole, leaning heavily on damage like the judgment of a street fight, but we’ll leave that alone for now. A ten-minute first round changes the entire dynamic of the fight.

With a ten minute first round, Frankie Edgar loses his title to Grey Maynard, as their first fight would’ve never gone to a decision, a draw. We’d look at Gray Maynard a lot differently having been a Champion, and who knows, maybe BJ Penn would have eventually won his belt back by beating Maynard. In turn, maybe BJ would be content with his career, and he wouldn't be out there competing for Applebee's parking lot world titles.

Would some fighters pace themselves during the first round, and lead to some Kaleb Starnes Tour De France performances? Sure. Or would the better-conditioned fighter take over in the championship minutes of the round, thus leading to more finishes? Possibly. For certain, gas tanks are going to be exposed. Fighters who treat their craft like it's a traditional sport with off-seasons would have a difficult time adjusting. The advantages of being in shape year-round would be enormous.

Sometimes it's less about five minutes than it is about one minute. How does one extra minute change Gastelum vs. Weidman? Weidman was all but out on his back, slumped against the cage after a big Gastelum left hand, but the bell rang before Gastelum could follow up. Gastelum went on to get finished in the third round. Without a one minute rest period between rounds, Yoel Romero can’t act like a pendejo and stay on the stool an additional ten minutes, giving himself plenty of time to recover. Tim Kennedy’s career would have ended a lot differently if he didn’t subsequently get knocked out in the next round. Longer rounds would limit how often a fighter can seek the intervention of an enswell, a glob of Vaseline over a cut, a time buying spilled bag of ice in the corner, and a tide turning cornerman’s David Goggins speech.

Now, what if… what if the first round was five minutes and the second round was ten minutes? Nick Diaz might have two dubs against Conor McGregor and had a title shot, and Calvin Kattar might be in title contention after beating Zabit Magomedsharipov (no spell check necessary). Valentina Shevchenko dominated the last round of her first fight with Amanda Nunes, and most people are in agreement that with one more round Shevchenko likely stops Nunes. If championship fights—and five-round main events— had five minute first rounds followed by two ten-minute rounds, fighters with superior cardio would have more opportunities to finish fights.

There would still be the occasional Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou stinker, and by no means do I think this plan has no flaws. But I do feel like longer rounds would force fighters to survive dangerous positions longer and to fight through fatigue longer, often against a fresher opponent. Lets go way back, how about Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick? That was the fight Hominick had the Total Recall alien growing out of his forehead, but if you remember, Hominick dominated the last round and a half. The fight ended with Hominick landing bombs from the mount on a gassed Aldo. If that fight had five minutes left in the last round, Aldo would have been in a lot of trouble.

Longer rounds, either on the front end or the back end, would change weight cutting as well. The tradeoff for competing at a lighter weight may not be worth gassing out in the seventh minute of the first round or the sixth minute of the second round. No doubt, there are fighters such as Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Colby Covington, etc. that could fight without slowing down even if the rounds were thirty minutes long, but they aren't pitted against each other very often. Usually, there is some measure of cardio discrepancy.

The sentiment behind shorter rounds—i.e. three-minute boxing rounds— is fighters would be more encouraged to sprint to the finish rather than settle into a marathoner’s pace. I think we’d more often see fighters looking for takedowns to stall and steal rounds more than increased finishes. Shorter rounds could favor grapplers greatly with one minute of rest every three minutes. Wrestlers/grapplers would stay fresher with extra rest periods, allowing them to pursue takedowns and, when successful, keep the fight on the mat for a high percentage of the round.

Alright, alright. I’ll wrap this shit up like the classic Chapelle’s Show skit in case you’re sitting in the handicap stall on your ten-minute break. It could be that all of this sounded better in my head, and I’ve failed to consider some obvious drawbacks, as I sit here hitting this vape pen loaded with a ninety-two percent Granddaddy Purple cartridge.

So, here’s the Cliffs Notes: I feel like longer rounds would allow all aspects of a fight to come into play, and none would be exploited or minimized to the point of irrelevance during the fight's course, increasing the likelihood of a fight-ending sequence. Ight imma head out. Have a big one, homies.

Hold up… Heeeey! (Nate Dogg voice)

Last weekend Adalaide was dropping pins all night to prove she was nowhere near Houston and the UFC 247 card. I was among the congregation of torchbearers yelling "rabble, rabble, rabble." I, like most who watched the fight, scored it 3-2 for Reyes with Reyes taking the first three rounds. I thought the third round was close; Jones was starting to land his jab and picking up his pace, and Reyes out-landed Jones with the highlight of the round being the head kick that Reyes landed. It was a close round that could have gone either way. One judge scored the fight scored 4-1, which I thought was the Adalaide plant for the night. The judge had scored round two for Jones, and although Jones did land some good shots, Reyes out worked him and dictated the pace.

In the end, Reyes only has to look in the mirror to find whom to place the blame. The fight was up for grabs entering the fifth round. The winner of that round would walk away with the belt. The round turned out to be the most dominant round for either fighter, and it clearly went to Bones. The Santos fight being the exception, the Champ did what he has done on numerous occasions with the belt on the line; he dominated the fifth round. He decisively won round four and gave the judges the lasting memory of Reyes being outworked and backpedaling. By the time the fight reached the judges, rounds one through three were a distant memory.

I started thinking about what I had just written the day before the fight. Longer rounds would've produced a clear-cut winner and eliminated any controversy. I believe Reyes would've been finished with ten-minute Championship rounds. Reyes appeared gassed in the fourth round, and it was even more evident in the fifth. With Jones having his strongest round and an additional five minutes to work with, it seemed likely that Reyes was on his way out. Obviously, this is complete speculation, but it sure did look like Reyes was fading heavy. Reyes looked like the new Champ until the fight reached the Championship rounds. Battles of attrition create more opportunities for the gap between fighters to widen, resulting in more finishes and less Joe Rogan and Dominick Cruz hating on the judges (rightfully so) between rounds. Alright, now I’m really out. Peace Homies.

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