MMA journalist Ariel Helwani has once again advocated for open scoring to be used in the UFC, claiming that it would go some way towards ‘fixing’ the perceived judging issue.
While the criticism of judges and certain results is nothing new, the debate surrounding the scoring of fights has picked up in recent days following a controversial UFC Vegas 55 main event verdict.
This past weekend’s headliner saw Holly Holm fall on the wrong side of a split decision against rising contender Ketlen Vieira. Having controlled the Brazilian for over 10 minutes, “The Preacher’s Daughter,” as well as many fans, suggested that she did enough to have earned the nod instead.
On the flip side, some pundits have pointed out the language in the criteria, which specifically busts the myth that control time or takedowns without effective offense scores in the eye of the judges.
From the need for better judges and a clearer criteria to calls for the UFC’s fighters and broadcasters to better educate themselves on how bouts are scored, a whole host of pitches have been made in recent times.
The latest to give their two-pence is renowned journalist Helwani, who chimed in on the discussion during a recent episode of The MMA Hour.
The Canadian has long been a supporter of the implementation of open scoring, which is most notably used by the Invicta FC and Combate Global promotions. The recent discourse about perceived ‘bad judging’ has only increased Helwani’s backing for the system, which he believes would help bridge the gap to improvement, largely through accountability.
“Of course we need better judges. Of course we need judges who understand how to score MMA fights,” acknowledged Helwani. “What I have said is I believe that the reason why open scoring would be great is for a few reasons. Number one, it’s a bridge to improving the judging. Open scoring is all about accountability. It’s all about, all right, if you aren’t doing your job, if you aren’t on the hot seat, if you aren’t scoring fight the right way… well, when does the accountability come?
“(With open scoring,) there’s a little more focus, just like there is in other sports when there’s bad officiating, on the bad judging. Perhaps that focus, that accountability, would lead to improvement,” added Helwani.
With that said, rather than direct changes to the criteria or the judges themselves, especially given that there isn’t exactly a wide pool of judges to choose from, Helwani pinpointed the public display of scoring during fights as a potentially quick fix, as it would grant the athlete on the receiving end of a bad score the chance to change their fate.
“I feel, at the very least, that the fighters should know where they stand. If they’re gonna get screwed, if they’re gonna get misjudged, at least let them know,” said Helwani. “What’s one way that we can bridge the gap to improvement? One quickish fix is just make it all out in the open. Just let the world know what’s going on in real time, and let the fighters know if they’re about to be screwed. Let them have a say in the matter and let them be able to change their fate.”
While open scoring has the support of a number of UFC fighters, including Stephen Thompson and Cory Sandhagen, the likes of Al Iaquinta and Daniel Cormier have expressed their opposition to the system, which has certainly split option in all corners of the MMA community.
Do you agree with Ariel Helwani? Is open scoring a ‘quick fix’ for MMA judging?