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John McCarthy breaks down proper way to judge MMA bout: It’s the fighter doing the most damage

MMA: UFC 247 Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Fight fans have only witnessed a handful of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events this year. The unexpected COVID-19 outbreak has certainly slowed the upcoming schedule so it’s important that we remember the good that 2020 has already given us (like this one HERE).

Unfortunately, the good is also accompanied by the bad and fight fans experienced both over the past few months. While some fights failed to live up to the hype it has actually been the judges’ scoring that has plagued us most.

The most memorable incident came at UFC 247 when Jon Jones defended his light heavyweight championship against previously undefeated contender Dominick Reyes. While both men went toe-to-toe for 25 full minutes many believed that Reyes had done enough in the fight to win (see highlights HERE). Despite Jones’ activity and cage control, “Devastator” ended up doing the most damage.

The judges did not see it this way, awarding Jones the controversial unanimous decision victory. One judge even gave Jones four out of the five rounds, which prompted copious amounts of public outcry and eventually the proposed idea of having an open scoring system.

Former referee John McCarthy, who has been around this sport since its inception, has decided to offer his insight and explain what judges should actually be looking for. Instead of getting blinded by which one of the fighters is moving forward or landing flashy techniques, McCarthy acknowledges that the most important aspect to score is damage inflicted. It’s the most obvious way to judge a professional MMA fight, but sometimes it’s overlooked.

“The biggest thing we have to have is the judges understanding the criteria that is given to them and how to use it and then understanding in a fight what is effective,” McCarthy told MMA Junkie Radio. “It’s not what is flashy. It’s not the guy that’s moving forward. It is what is the most effective element in that round. Who’s the guy that created the most dangerous situations for their opponent?

“It doesn’t matter if he’s chasing him down. It matters if he is doing the most effective damage during that round. That’s what the judges are looking for.”

In addition, McCarthy also discussed the difficult-to-judge title fight between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero earlier this month at UFC 248. It was one of the most uneventful title fights in UFC history and one that produced little action to judge.

“Personally, I knew at the end of that (first) round, I knew that every judge, my son was one of those judges, I knew everyone was going to go with Yoel Romero because he landed the one big right hand,” McCarthy said. “You saw Israel rubbing his left eye, blinking his left eye because a knuckle caught him or something, but it showed that that punch had an effect. That’s what I’m talking about: Who affected the other the most?”

While McCarthy would have liked to score the first round between Adesanya and Romero a draw given the lack of action he fully understands why the judges ended up giving the opening frame to “Solider of God.”

“I wanted to give it a 10-10 because neither, in my opinion, neither guy deserved to win that round,” McCarthy said. “You didn’t do enough to win that round. You didn’t do enough for me to say you actually get an advantage over your opponent now, having one point higher on the scorecard, but I knew when the round was over, they’re all going to give it to Yoel, and I probably would have to because that’s what the criteria tells me.”

Criteria or not, MMA judges seem to get things wrong more often than they get them right. It’s a shame because not only are fans spending their hard-earned money to get the right outcomes, but the fighters themselves are going through massive fight camps to capitalize on one small-windowed moment inside of the cage.

Needless to say, current MMA judging needs to be changed or revamped moving forward. Maybe the big wigs in charge can take this prolonged hiatus to determine a fix so fighters, and fans alike, can return to action with a new belief in proper scoring.

What about you, Maniacs? Any suggestions to revamp the lack luster MMA scoring system?

Let’s hear it!

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