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Controversy Will Continue With The 10-point Must System

On May 3rd, 2014 Floyd Money Mayweather defeated Marcos Maidana in one of the closest fights in recent history. Undoubtedly, the closest fight Money Mayweather has been in… quite possibly his entire career. While that fight was insanely close, fans throughout the world screamed controversy that Maidana was robbed, that boxing is corrupt, that something fishy is going on. News flash, just because a fight ends up in what appears to be lopsided scorecards it does not mean it was not a close fight. It can mean that one person barely edged out each particular round. The 10-point must system requires each judge to score a fight round by round, in this particular case, as 12 individual fights. You turn your cards in at the end of each round and don’t have the luxury of balancing things over the course of the entire bout. As close as each round may be one fighter is required to win each round. While that fighter might win by the slimmest of margins, one fighter must win each round under the 10 point must system.

Riots broke out after this weekend’s Mayweahter v. Maidana fight as fans cried robbery, but none of those fans stopped to think that the judges are required to award each round to a fighter and regardless how close those rounds are; one fighter must win each round.

A 10 point must system means that each round at least one fighter must get 10 points while the other fighter must get 9 or fewer. This elevates the possibility of a draw as there is an odd number of rounds in MMA.

In MMA the 10-point must system is often the cause of controversy. Unlike boxing, MMA only has three and five round fights. Three rounds compared to twelve yet they both use the same scoring system. Often times in MMA you see a fighter win a close round which most people would say was a dead even round and should be a draw, but under the 10 point must system one fighter has to win every round. UFC commentator Joe Rogan has this to say about the scoring system used in MMA, “Scoring is very flawed. It’s flawed in a bunch of different ways. The biggest reason it’s flawed is because of the 10-Point Must system, which was adopted from boxing. That might work in a 12-round fight. 12, three minute rounds is very different than three, five minute rounds. Three, five minute rounds, you’re going 10-9 on rounds that either guy could win and then the next round a guy could get taken down, busted up, dropped, and you score that a 10-9 as well. That makes no f—ing sense. The system in place right now, the scoring system, is from boxing and they need to develop one just for MMA” (The Fighter & The Kid Podcast). Joe Rogan makes a great point. A fighter who drops his opponent with punches and dominates the round gets the exact same score as a fighter who holds his opponent against the cage for 5 minutes.

Robbie Lawler (blue gloves) is declared the winner after his welterweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Robbie Lawler (blue gloves) is declared the winner after his welterweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 167 is a great example of how the 10-point must system can potentially overshadow a fight. In the Co-Main Event, Robbie Lawler defeated Rory McDonald via split decision. Now while I agree with the decision, it came with controversy. The first round of that fight was as close to a 10-10 round as I have ever seen. If the judges had the option of calling a round a draw then the first round of this fight was the blueprint of it. However, under the 10-point system one fighter had to win the first round. As it turned out, two out of the three judges awarded Robbie Lawler the first round. Thankfully that was the correct call as Lawler did much more to win the fight after the three round fight came to an end.

A logical solution would be to allow judges to call a round a draw. I understand the argument by promoters and fans that allowing judges to do so would result increase the number of fights ending in a draw. While that isn’t the ideal situation at least we won’t see fighters loosing a fight and hindering their career due to scoring regulations. Fighters make a living by maintaining a reputable records and a loss (close or not) will impact their career and their earning abilities. They lay it all on the line and put years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication into one single fight, so it would only be fair to allow judges the ability to call a close round a draw.

Another solution is to implement a half-point scoring system. I have been a big fan of this option for quite some time. Judges score close rounds with a half point awarded to one fighter and score a dominant round with a full point. In this solution a draw is a likely outcome but at least it awards fighters based on merit.

Until a viable alternative is set in place, fans will continue to have mixed feelings and reactions in respect to judges decisions under the rules of the 10-point must scoring system.