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Click Debate: How will the new judging criteria affect how MMA bouts are scored?

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Get ready for more 10-8 rounds in mixed martial arts. At least that is the expected effect of new judging language that will be implemented beginning this month.

The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) approved a cleaned-up version of MMA scoring criteria at its annual conference back in August and the new criteria was adopted officially as part of the sport’s Unified Rules Jan. 1.

The goal for the change was two-fold: make the scoring language clearer and open the door for more 10-8 rounds.

Under the new criteria, judges are asked to look at three characteristics during a round — impact (or damage), dominance and duration — in order to determine if it is a 10-8. If two of those characteristics are present, a 10-8 should be considered. If all three are there, the round should be a 10-8.

Previously, rules for a 10-8 were far more subjective and that score was uncommon. Regulators have joked that in the past there needed to be a near homicide inside the cage for a judge to grant a 10-8.

“If judges are using the information correctly, we will see more 10-8 scores,” said Rob Hinds, who is on the ABC’s MMA rules and regulations committee and is an ABC certified trainer of judges and referees. “It is about giving the fighter what they’ve earned, based on the criteria. Fighters are performing at a higher level than ever and are having some amazing success. Give them what they earn. That’s it.”

Over the years, judges who work UFC and Bellator events in the bigger states have gradually become more liberal with 10-8s. In 2016 alone, there seemed to be more 10-8 rounds doled out than ever before. That will likely continue, now on all levels of the sport, according to Derek Cleary, who worked as many MMA fights as any other judge in the world last year.

“I don’t think the scoring language is going to affect the way I score because many of the judges I work with in California and Nevada already score that way to begin with in regards to the 10-8s,” Cleary said. “I think the language will be very helpful for judges who may be on the fence on scoring a 10-8. The language is more clear now.”

Impact is taught to judges as “damage,” but the ABC has chosen not to codify that word in the rules for liability reasons. Impact is defined as a fighter’s actions, using striking and/or grappling, that leads to a “diminishing of their opponents’ energy, confidence, abilities and spirit.” That can also include visible evidence like swelling and lacerations.

Dominance is defined as when a fighter is on constant offense in the striking or grappling and an opponent is “forced to continually defend.” Important to note here is that just being in a dominant position — like having an opponent’s back — does not necessarily mean dominance. There has to be attacking and effective submission attempts from those positions. (More on that later.)

Duration is similar to dominance, though it means the opponent is posing no offense whatsoever. At the end of the round, when one fighter has had just about the full amount of offense and his opponent has had little to none, that is duration.

“For example, if we have a fighter that has their opponent in mount position (a dominant position) and is continually threatening with effective submissions and/or effective strikes, with little to no offensive output by the opponent, the amount of time spent in that scenario will help to weigh a 10-9 versus a 10-8 round,” Hinds said. “This was a dominating round that may not have had much damage associated with it; however, the amount of time of dominance would help lead a judge to a proper assessment.”

Source:: mma fighting