There’s a word I’m going to throw around again and again throughout this article, and that word is “damage”.
My reason being that, in my opinion, fighting sports should be scored based upon fighting logic. How do you “judge” a real fight in the real world? Usually one guy walks away, and the other just lays there, right?
The challenge with MMA scoring, is that damage can be many different things:
Submissions, take downs, clinching, knees, elbows, leg kicks, body kicks, head kicks — even the hands are more complicated with standing hammer fists vs ground hammer fists, spinning techniques etc etc.
On top of that, some folks can slap with a body kick all day for points (say Nick Diaz) while others can knock you out with a single liver kick (say Anthony Pettis). Some slap with leg kicks, others thud. Some do pillow punches on the ground (Chael) while others destroy you (Jones).
How the heck do we create a uniform scoring system from that!?
My idea is this: We scrap the majority of our boxing logic, and take the concept down to its fighting roots.
A damage based scoring system makes a lot of things considerably easier to score. Not perfect, but, better.
For example, a hammer fist from the guard vs a hammer fist from knee on belly. Well, the knee-on one has considerably more potential for damage, as it has more weight behind it and farther to travel and thus, if it lands, would be awarded more weight in the scoring than one from the guard.
Next concept to consider is range of motion/windup. There are some who use the full range of motion on a technique, be it a leg kick or a hammer fist on the ground, and, there are others who go for points and hit with tiny attacks. This is seen in boxing, as well, where “power punches” vary wildly in scope.
If you look at damage vs times hit, again, this problem is eliminated. If someone takes you down and lands pillow punches for two minutes and you land four heavy elbows from the bottom, this would be a key difference in the scoring effect.
Which takes us to take downs. Again, base it off of damage. If you slam someone into the ground, there’s damage. If you make them sit down, there isn’t. Once they’re down, you can pound the heck out of them, or you can hold them down. One does damage, and one does not.
With submissions, I feel you have to judge them as strikes from a knockout artist. If they land, you win, if they don’t, you missed. Submission escapes and take down defense then, would be equivalent to slipping or blocking a punch.
Remove abstractions such as octagon control and aggression completely. We’ve seen Lyoto Machida have nearly zero aggression and still knock out his opponent, and we’ve seen Nick Diaz get his face handed to him after a full fight of nothing but badly aimed aggression.
Equally, we’ve seen fighters simply lay upon their opponents and achieve no damage and we’ve seen fighters on the bottom do more damage to the one who took them down there in the first place.
Taking the focus off of “control” and “aggression” and boiling it down to the one key ingredient of damage would satisfy fighters, strategists, and the public. It would remove “lay and pray” as a strategy, while still keeping “ground and pound” alive and well. GSP would still win every fight, as he takes them down, and does damage while nullifying their offense. However some wrestlers focus entirely upon position and get punched the entire time yet still win the fight. This would remove that.
It would also take the “take downs being lopsided in the scoring system” issue away, as currently they provide aggression, octagon control on top of their potential to land more strikes.
Conclusion: Damage, damage, damage.
Now you have a fairly simplistic system, similar to a fighting game’s power bars. At the end of the round, if both are still standing, whoever did the most damage gets the 10 points and the other gets 9 or less.
What do you think?