Dominick Cruz has spent the majority of his career using his unorthodox movement and striking to frustrate his opponents and earn a ton of decisions. He sat atop the Bantamweight division for years using this style.
Now, “The Dominator” says he’s changing how he’s going to fight based on the new Unified Rules of MMA scoring criteria that’s been in effect for the past few years. The criteria judges damage above everything else. Only when the damage done between fighters is equal do other criteria come into effect. And Cruz believes superficial damage is king in this new era.
He explained his thinking on a recent podcast with Brendan Schaub.
“As a commentator I got to go to the judging criteria meeting and learn, and it was really helpful,” Cruz said. “They’re scoring a little bit different, they’re scoring on damage more than ever. They’re sticking pretty close to [damage being everything]. Like, bloody nose, or cut, or like actual physical you can see damage, they’re scoring.
“So in the [O’Malley vs. Yan] fight, Yan didn’t make O’Malley bleed,” Cruz continued. “And O’Malley made Yan bleed with the cut. And so they went, ‘It was a really close, super close fight ... so the one that’s bleeding lost.’ And I’m like, ‘eeeeeh.’ I get it. Also get how they can be upset. But, if you don’t know the criteria, which I only know because I went to that meeting and talked to the refs and judges, that was a blessing I got, that they explained that to me.
“It also changed my game,” he added. “When you’re wrestling people you also gotta be looking for elbows and knees. You need to cut them. You have to cut the guy now. So to me cuts are worth more than takedowns. That’s how I’m looking at it now. So I’ll fake a takedown, go for a cut. How do I fake a takedown to a cut? How do I get him down and cut him? That’s the question. That’s where I’m at now cuz of the scoring criteria. And is a cut easier than a submission?”
Dominick Cruz says he is changing fighting style, blames judging criteria pic.twitter.com/K9h3Iw5WU6— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) May 11, 2023
As it’s written, the scoring criteria is fairly straightforward, but fighters and commentators have been expressing their frustration for awhile in how judges have applied them. We still see people getting upset when one fighter controls the bout with extensive grappling, only to lose off a few more effective jabs that draw blood.
It does ring true to a degree. How many leg kicks or body shots would a fighter have to land to equal one superficial cut above the brow in the judges’ eyes? An educated official would know which is really worth more ... but we all know we’re not dealing with the best, even in Nevada where so many UFC events are held.