Dominick Cruz, one of the best fighters of all time in his division, was on color commentary for UFC 209 last weekend. The former bantamweight champion is so diligent in his second job as a broadcaster that he actually attended media day to interview fighters, so he could correctly get across their stories to the viewers on television and pay-per-view.
One of the things Cruz said during the event, though, was somewhat surprising from a sporting perspective. In discussing rules changes in MMA, particularly new language for judging, Cruz says he wasn’t exactly sure what actions constituted winning rounds anymore.
“And I’m a fighter,” Cruz said.
Imagine LeBron James saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know what’s a 3-pointer anymore — and I’m a basketball player.” Cruz was saying he is not clear on how to actually win at his sport. That seems unimaginable. But he’s not alone; in fact, he’s the majority.
This is no knock on Cruz or on fighters. While more could be done from a fighter’s perspective to seek out information from athletic commissions and promoters, it’s certainly not mostly on them.
For too long, commissions have been intentionally opaque, letting things go unsaid and uncorrected. Every time I hear a commentator refer to “three points of contact,” I slap my hand against my forehead. That is and has never been the rule for a grounded fighter. But it has been said over and over again by broadcasters, so now it has become the narrative from the perspective of fans, fighters and coaches.
Last year, Tim Means admitted to not knowing the rule for a grounded fighter when he nailed Alex Oliveira with a pair of illegal knees. Oliveira had both knees on the ground — clearly a grounded fighter by rule. The rule, before it was changed by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), was that anything other than the soles of the feet on the floor makes for a grounded fighter. Even under the new rules (and I’ll get to those in a bit), a knee down means a fighter is down.
Means didn’t know, though. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan and UFC regulatory head Marc Ratner also got it wrong on the broadcast, saying Means’ knees were legal. Rogan corrected himself after speaking to legendary referee John McCarthy moments later. Luckily, referee Dan Miragliotta was on top of it and made the correct call that the blows were illegal.
No commission issued a written explanation, though. Nor did the ABC. So confusion remains. The knee-jerk reaction is always that the referee or judge is incompetent. Even when that’s not the case, that becomes the narrative because of a lack of education.
The same thing has happened over the years with scoring. The words “Octagon control” and “aggression” have been repeated so many times by broadcasters that a lot of fans and fighters believe those are the ways you win rounds. They’re not — not under the old rules or the new rules. Effective striking/grappling is the primary determination. The other two are only tiebreakers, when effective striking/grappling is completely equal. Effective aggression is the first tiebreaker and cage control is the second.
Commissions and the ABC need to do a better job of educating fighters, especially. And those doing play-by-play and analysis on television should get more up to speed on rules and judging. It was only last year that the UFC added to its scoring introduction on broadcasts that the three criteria were used in order, from effective striking/grappling on down.
Now more than ever, education is needed. Because there is a lot of confusion between the old rules and new rules, which many commissions have yet to adopt. There was a lack of understanding even before there was an alteration to the Unified Rules of MMA. Believe it or not, it has gotten worse — shocking, right?
Source:: mma fighting