As a new sport, mixed martial arts is still growing into and adjusting its rules, whether it has to do with safety, allowable techniques, or scoring criteria. MMA judging is subject to a lot of criticism for various reasons. Judges might have a bad angle of the action, Judges are human and can make mistakes. Crowd noise can lead to hometown decisions. And so on.
The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has been at the forefront of the sport’s regulation since 2001, when they helped establish the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. Like other commissions have done (California testing half points, for example), they’ve occasionally run pilot programs to help learn what could be a good change, and now they’re launching a new one. MMA Junkie is reporting that at the Caged Fury Fighting Championship card on Halloween night in Atlantic City, they’ll test out judges in “soundproof isolated rooms.”
To be clear, these judges, who will be watching on muted monitors, won’t be the official judges for the scorecards. The regular cageside judges will handle that as they always would. This is just an experiment to compare the scorecards. According to a statement from the commission:
This agency has been pleased with both the quality of judging and our judging roster in this State, but we recently have wondered about the effects of blocked views, limited angles, sight distance and to a small degree, crowd noise. Technological advances and skilled camera technicians can now offer the viewing fan base a closer, clearer and more precise visual of the action at hand as compared to what the judge sees cage side. It is noteworthy that promotional executives and event broadcasters sitting cage side frequently view a table monitor as much or more than they view the live action itself.
It should be interesting to see if the scores vary much, if at all.