UFC light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith has given his take on the state of judging in mixed martial arts.
The debate surrounding perceived shortcomings in judging and the scoring criteria by which they go by has reached fever-pitch this year following a number of results that split opinion across the fanbase.
While many have criticized the judges themselves, accusing them of incorrectly scoring bouts, others have suggested that the issue isn’t how judges apply the criteria, but the criteria itself.
Anthony Smith firmly falls on the latter side of that argument.
During a recent appearance on MMA Junkie Radio, “Lionheart” suggested that the judges aren’t making the kind of errors that many accuse them of. Instead, the one-time UFC title challenger believes that the problem lies a number of levels above them.
“I don’t think the judges are doing as bad of a job as — maybe even I’ve given them a little bit too much crap for it,” Smith said. “But I think they’re doing an okay job under the criteria that they’re given. The criteria, I think, is the problem. It’s very odd, to me, to have a bunch of nerds in suits in an office somewhere tell me what a significant strike is. I think that’s the problem.
“So then those guys are the ones passing it down the line to the judges, and they’re telling them what a significant strike is. So, I don’t think we need to have a bunch of former fighters or former coaches, or whatever, (judging). I don’t think we need that to get it right,” Smith continued. “But I do think they should open the dialogue a little bit and allow us — because we’re the ones who do it, so if we have to go in there and we have to fight under a rules (and criteria), I think we should have a say.”
Smith Cites Shevchenko Defense As Evidence For Flawed Criteria
Smith went on to give an example of one particular issue that he believes every other fighter would agree with him on.
The perception surrounding control time and its impact on a fight has long been misconceived, with color commentators Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz often criticized in the past for suggesting that accumulated control or takedowns could affect the scoring of a fight.
While many pundits have pointed out that, per the criteria, control must be used to deliver effective offense that could contribute towards the end of the fight, many have cried foul at control time not being rewarded — which was evident following the Ketlen Vieira vs. Holly Holm and Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos bouts.
Discussing the latter, Smith suggested that clinch work against the cage is deserving of a better outlook in the criteria than it currently receives, something he believes fighters would universally support.
“For example, the clinch work on the fence, like in the Valentina Shevchenko fight, right?” Smith said. “She was pushed up and getting grinded against the fence for however long it was. Was one round where she landed like, three strikes, and then was grinded on and kneed to death on the fence, and then wins that round.
“Any fighter in the world will tell you that that [being against the fence] is the most miserable to happen to you… I think that, under the criteria, (Shevchenko winning the round) is correct,” Smith continued. “As a fighter, I think if you ask 10 of us, ‘Would you rather take those three strikes at range or be the person grinded up against the fence,’ I bet every one of them would tell you they’d rather take the three strikes at range.”
For the past few days, the 2022 ABC Conference took place at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, N.Y, and featured the likes of Din Thomas and Herb Dean speaking on scoring and officiating issues.
Among the outcomes was a detailed scoring ladder designed to better explain what judges are analyzing during fights. While some have praised the breakdown, others have noted that explaining what they perceive to be a flawed system does nothing to solve the actual issue. With his latest comments, it stands to reason that Smith would agree with that sentiment.
Do you agree with Anthony Smith’s take on judging?