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Don’t Blame the Judges, Blame the System

There hasn’t been a judge’s decision more controversial than the one on Saturday night for Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. At the end of the day, St-Pierre is still the champion, and Johny Hendricks is left without a title, even after busting GSP open and landing the harder blows throughout the fight. Why then did Hendricks not walk out with the UFC welterweight championship around his waist?

A 10-9 round in MMA is seen as every round that a fighter has won. You can brutalize your opponent, almost get the fight stopped, and if the fighter survives, the judges will most likely give the dominate fighter a 10-9 score. It is very rare to see 10-8 round in MMA. The next round, the fighter who was almost stopped could control the pace, barely out land his opponent, and squeak out the round with a takedown. The score after two rounds, most likely a 19-19 tie, even though one fighter has clearly done more damage and is winning the fight as a whole.  With my scoring system, the dominate fighter would be winning the fight 20-18 or 19-18.

So what does my complete renovation of the scoring system include? Well, it’s not much of a renovation, just a different use of the 10 point scoring system. A close round where you could give the round to either fighter, scored a 10-10. A round which was clearly won by a fighter, but not dominated, 10-9. A round where one fighter dominates his opponent and is outclassing him in every facet of the game, 10-8. A round where the fight is almost stopped, and is controlled by one fighter for the entire 5 minutes, 10-7.

Now let’s use this scoring system to score last night’s fight. The 1st round was even, that could have gone either way. Anyone saying Hendricks clearly won that round must watch the fight again. The round stats go as followed: Total strikes: Hendricks 27-26. Significant strikes: GSP 19-18. Takedowns: 1-1. Sub attempts: GSP 1-0. 1st Round Score: 10-10. The 2nd round saw Hendricks wobble GSP, clearly winning the round in dominate fashion. 10-8 Hendricks. The 3rd round GSP out struck Hendricks, winning the round, although not in a dominate fashion. 10-9 GSP. The 4th round saw Hendricks out strike the champ, winning the round. 10-9 Hendricks. The 5th round was close, but GSP was moving forward, pressuring Hendricks and out landing him with strikes. 10-9 GSP, but could be argued 10-10.

Graph by Joe Lauzon

Graph by Joe Lauzon

Final Score Card For Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks: 48-47 Hendricks. Many people had this as their score for the fight, but based on the current judging system, the fight could have gone to either Hendricks or St-Pierre, therefore the split decision. With my scoring system, Hendricks either clearly wins 49-47 or 48-47.

The only problem I see with my scoring system is the increase of ties on the score cards for fights. The easiest way to solve this would be to have an overtime round for fights that are a draw. Either another five minute round, or a shortened three minute round where the judges must declare a winner at the end of the round.  This scoring system would allow for fighters who dominate certain rounds a better chance of winning when their opponent barely squeezes out a round against them. In my world, Johny Hendricks is the champion as he clearly beat GSP in the overall fight. In our current judging world though, I see that Georges St-Pierre won three rounds, and unfortunately for Hendricks, that allows GSP to retain his title.