May 28, 2011 will go down as the day where we witnessed the introduction of the biggest innovation in the scoring of combat sports since the introduction of the 10-point must system.
Cageside judges were given video monitors.
In theory, these monitors would allow the officials judging the bouts to see what it truly happening in a fight.
As a former mixed martial arts judge, I can tell you firsthand that where you are sitting makes all the difference in the world when it comes to putting that score on your scorecard. There were numerous times where my judging of a round would differ from those of the other judges, and vice versa, just because of the view we had of the action,
But now with this latest and greatest breakthrough in innovation, all three judges are now able to see the exact same thing at the exact same time. With all the screwy decisions we have witnessed over the past few years, this idea has been accepted by the mixed martial arts community with open arms.
However, the bigger issue now needs to be addressed.
What good are the monitors if the judges looking at them don't know how to score what they are looking at?
At UFC 130, seven of the 10 fights went to the judges' scorecards. Six of those decisions were so cut and dry that Mr. Magoo could have scored them correctly.
Then there was the Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson fight.
Apparently, the judges were so impressed by Johnson's takedowns and top game that they awarded him the unanimous-decision victory.
But did they not see anything that Torres was doing?
Yes, Torres was on bottom for the majority of the 13 minutes the fight was on the ground. But can anyone question who was doing more work during those 13 minutes?
Torres worked one of the most impressive guards we have seen in a long time. He was constantly looking for sweeps, submissions and even landed some pretty good strikes off his back.
But apparently, none of this matters if you are on bottom. As long as you're laying on top of your opponent, judges will give you the benefit of the doubt.
Giving officials monitors is a good step in the right direction, but it isn't nearly enough to clean up the mess that is mixed martial arts judging.
How about establishing some clear-cut judging criteria? Or maybe establishing some ABC-operated judging schools? Would holding judges accountable for their hiccups hurt anyone's feelings?
Or how about the real solution—get mixed martial arts judges that actually know about mixed martial arts.
Let's get former fighters judging. There are plenty of instructors out there that have never stepped foot inside a cage that know plenty about the sport. Even some of the established mixed martial arts writers and journalists would make great officials.
Monitors are a great band-aid, but but they will never fix the underlying problem.