If there is any job in the world of combative sports that goes unappreciated, it is that of a judge.
Such men take it upon themselves to watch, critique and, as their namesake suggests, judge which fighter has proven superior in the contest.
Sadly, the sport of MMA is new and forced to rely upon men who have built the bulk of their resumes scoring boxing; it isn’t hard to see there is some bias inherent in a system that favors one kind of action over all the others.
In fact, in many ways it’s a system built by committee; the winner gets 10 points, the loser nine or less in a round, octagon control is really just ring generalship, effective aggression will always be effective aggression, and so on.
But it doesn’t work simply because MMA is a battle fought on several different planes whereas boxing is fought on one.
Some fighters have been thoroughly dominated in a round only to fall into a takedown, lay atop their opponent while bleeding all over him and suddenly find themselves the winner of said round just because they were on top.
So, until the next crop of judges matures and ages like good wine (their seeds planted and grown to fruition in a soil dark and rich in its understanding of MMA), the current men that watch and judge the sport need as much assistance as they can get, because coming from the hardened artery of boxing purists, they understand little save for boxing and, you guessed it, numbers.
Let’s be honest, the current body of judges that the NSAC and other organizations draw from would rather be judging a boxing card; it’s what they were reared on and what they love.
If you would rather be doing something else during the time you're seated ringside, then you shouldn’t be there at all. This is serious business deserving all the attention of serious men who understand what they are seeing.
We’ve all seen the judges render decisions that are so baffling that it makes one wonder if they were even watching the bout at hand.
They were watching, truth be told, and just as I can watch Italian opera with my eyes locked on the stage and my ears open and still not understand a single word uttered, so to can the judges watch and simply be baffled by what they see.
We don’t have any real grasp on what it’s going to take to get them to understand the dynamics of an MMA bout. Some have suggested five or even seven judges, but if they are all drawn from the same talent pool, nothing is going to be solved.
These men need an aid, something—anything—that can help them translate what is going on in that cage, and round-by-round statistics are not only readily available, but are something these judges are familiar with that they have grown to trust.
Round-by-round stats are prevalent in the world of boxing; compu-box numbers have been a staple in the sweet science for a very long time now and the judges know they exist.
It’s a number system that puts the right kind of pressure on the judges when it comes to a boxing match; when it comes to MMA, it would be seen less as a loaded gun held to their head and more like a loaded gun by their side.
Self-doubt is a constant hound at the heel of any judge, especially in MMA; no matter what we believe, they don’t want their positions questioned because they keep on rendering bad decisions, over and over. They don’t want to be associated with theories of bribery and "the fix."
Granted, they can watch the monitors like Dana White does, but most of them prefer to watch the fight that is right in front of them listening to the sound of the blows landing and the fighters reacting; using as many senses as they can to gauge damage.
Some people have declared that they should listen to the commentary, letting more educated men like Joe Rogan help aid them in understanding what is going on, but for obvious reasons, this is something they really cannot do with any conviction.
So we come back, full circle, to round-by-round statistics.
It really is nothing more than a complement for the eyes of those who really love what they are seeing, but for judges, it could be a tool that confirms or denies suspicions that they have yet to or are uncertain to act upon; especially when it comes to meaningful strikes landed on the ground.
MMA is a sport that sees nearly every bout in constant flux, but round-by-round stats would help bring certainty to an uncertain situation for men in desperate need of a lamp in the fog.
And the more they were used by judges, the quicker these men would be able to translate what such numbers mean in accordance to positions on the ground.
Rome, nor the pyramids of Egypt, were built in a day; they were years in the making, usually started with corner stones on level ground.
When it comes to the evolution of MMA judging, round-by-round statistics are clearly the next step, even if for no other reason than we can confirm whether they are of any productive use or not.
Either way, utilizing them would be at least taking a step forward toward a new perspective, and given how MMA bouts are judged these days, a new vantage point might be just what is needed, because those ringside seats are doing little good.