From The Judge’s Chair
By Matt Hume
From the June Issue of Full Contact Fighter
What fight was he watching? That phrase is far too familiar in relation to judges’ decisions in combat sports. Sometimes judges make decisions that are worthy of our questioning and criticism, but other times the questioning and criticism is due to a lack of understanding of the criteria that the judges are basing their decisions on.
When you hear a bad decision in boxing it is usually justifiably bad. Boxing criteria for judges is the same from state to state and sanctioning body to sanctioning body. That is one of the reasons that you will see boxing matches that are sanctioned by more than one organization at the same time. In our sport, however, it is not quite so simple. I have judged for many organizations including Pride, Shooto, SuperBrawl, Extreme Challenge and the UFCF. Although many of the same fighters frequent those venues, the criteria used in judging them are different for every event. The differences are enough that in a close fight you could easily get opposite outcomes.
The Shooto organization uses a ’10-point must system’ per round, the same as in boxing. The main criterion that the judges are looking for is "damage". Shooto utilizes a standing 8-count and a "catch call" as the referee’s means of expressing a high damage factor. When judging a Shooto match, the judge will look for "effective" striking, throwing and submission to determine the winner at the end of each round. If one combatant has gained an advantage in the "damage" factor, then he will win that round 10-9. A knockdown (standing 8-count), or a "catch" will result in a 10-8 round and if that occurred several times in a round, then that round could be scored 10-7 or even 10-6. Most of the time, however, that much damage would have resulted in a referee stoppage or TKO. At the end of the fight, all rounds are tallied and a winner declared.
As a fan, it is most enjoyable to sit back and watch the fights, throw food at your buddies and trash talk the fighters and judges as if they were only a few hundred miles out of earshot. At the end of the fight, we take into account our biases and prognostications and render our own judges’ decision. The next step is to hit the internet and "flame" on about how your man got robbed. OK, I realize FCF readers have too much class to partake in that scenario, but we all know about those "other guys". Here are two things to try that may add a new dimension to your NHB watching enjoyment:
For the readers who are budding new fighters or even seasoned veterans, taking into account what the judges will be scoring you on is a very good idea. Dave Menne is a great example of a smart fighter who knows how to impress the judges. I don’t know whether he consciously makes an attempt to impress the judges, or if it is just his style, but he is an excellent example. I had the pleasure of acting as Dave’s corner man for his fight against Jutaro Nakao in Hawaii. Dave listened and carried out every instruction that was given in the corner or yelled into the ring and ran a near perfect game plan that assured him a unanimous decision victory in that fight. Everything that he did was from a game plan that was meant to impress the judges with their own criteria. Of course the fighter is the one who actually has to carry out the game plan, but as a cornerman, it is also important to know the criteria. The cornerman’s knowledge of the criteria is important, not only to give your fighter the right advice, but also to use vocal tactics from the corner that make it easy for the judges to realize that your fighter is scoring and winning even when the fight appears close.
Knowing the judges’ criteria as a fighter and cornerman can enhance your chances of garnering a close decision. As a fan it can give you another perspective to enjoy. And as a judge it will serve to give you an unbiased focus and may save you from a midnight beating.
Thank you all for your continued support of our great sport. God bless.
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