In the UFC, the phrase, “Never leave it in the hands of the judges” is a wise adage that haunts fighters and fans alike. Regardless of the action that took place in the octagon, if the fight lasts to the closing bell, there is no confidence that the action the fighters, the corners, and the audience saw during the fight will represent the decisions of the judges score cards. It can be infuriating for athletes to believe they’d done enough to win the fight only to learn that the judges had the fight going the other way.
Skip the explanation and go straight to the framework: The Combat Sports Talk Judging Methodology.
We All Agree Judging is Terrible
For years, fans simply wanted to know what judges were looking for and what they saw when they watch the fights. What was the basis the judges used to determine who won a round? Unfortunately for fans, the answer is every judge is different, they each value certain techniques, and they can be inconsistent from judge to judge and fight to fight. It’s a crap shoot.
Even for the audience, match decisions can be split based on fanbase. Fans have nearly come to blows debating whether Johny Hendricks actually beat Georges St. Pierre or if Dominick Reyes beat Jon Jones. Fans lack a methodology to score a fight and even though it’s easier to simply blame bad judging for crazy outcomes, audience perspectives on who won a particular fight can vary just as widely.
So that’s what I have tried to fix.
A New Methodology
I would like to introduce you to the Combat Sports Talk Judging Methodology or (CST Method). This is an attempt to unify how a fight can be watched and scored to generate a more uniformed and predictable decision for fans and judges. As the unified rules of MMA continue to evolve, so too, will this methodology evolve to simplify what to watch for, what language to use, how to document the action and ultimately, who to declare the winner of the round.
What I learned
In testing the methodology, I learned two things:
First, watching fights in real time and trying to score it is really hard. The action is moving quickly and it’s difficult to see whether strikes land or if they’re blocked, and changing camera angles doesn’t alway provide the best vantage point to see the action.
Second, this is not the way to watch a fight for entertainment. Judges have a tough job because you don’t get to see the broader competition. Focusing on whether a strike lands or if damage has been done creates a myopic view of the action in the cage and in many ways ruins the experience.
Nevertheless, we proceed.
How it Works
Here’s how the CST Method works. By taking notes of the action using symbols for strikes, takedowns, and aggression, you assign point values to the action you witnessed. Totaling the points, gives you a winner for the round. This methodology breaks down how to classify strikes into two classes, how to score effective striking from ineffective striking. How to give credit for ground work, and what to do when the fight is close. These rules are designed to be used in real time when watching the fight, and can differ from the total strikes/significant strike counters frequently displayed on the screen during the fight.
The goal is to provide a basis for which to score a fight that all fans can easily use creating a uniform voice for coming to a decision on who won the fight.
If we as fans can do it, then maybe we can convince the commission to adopt it as well.
Learn the CST Method
I present to you, The Combat Sports Talk Judging Methodology.