Combat Sports

Zuhosky’s Take #9: MMA Open-Scoring Should Be Universal

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About two weeks ago, the Colorado State Boxing Commission (CSBC) voted to approve open-scoring in MMA and boxing for any and all future cards in the state, becoming the second US state to have its athletic commission approve open-scoring for MMA.

As the name suggests, open-scoring, used across all GLORY Kickboxing events, permits the fighters and the fans to see where a contender stands on the scorecards after a given round in a bout.

However, the concept of open-scoring in MMA in Colorado will not be across the board here.

Upon the approval of open-scoring for MMA and boxing in the state being announced, the CSBC noted that the use of the practice is still subject to promotional discretion and will thus not be mandatory at the present time.

Prior to Colorado approving open-scoring for MMA, the Kansas State Athletic Commission (KSAC) began to utilize the practice on a trial run starting in March of 2020 with INVICTA FC’s Phoenix Series 3 event, before being used regularly effective with the July 2, 2020 INVICTA FC 40 card.

Open-Scoring Still Widely Resisted

Although the LFA used open-scoring throughout its Kansas residencies during the fall of 2020, by and large, this practice is still resisted by many in the MMA community. Why? Why is the practice of open-scoring still widely a bone of contention among so many in the sport?

Unlike some of life’s problems, there, unfortunately, is no singular answer as far as the open-scoring dilemma. The topic is still one that is ripe for debate and it all depends upon who you ask about it.

Dana White On Open-Scoring

UFC President Dana White, MMA’s most powerful authority figure, wants no part of the concept of open-scoring in his sport, Last January, he had some choice words about the use of open-scoring in MMA.

“If you saw your score up there, all you have to do is stay away from this guy for the next five minutes,” White argued. “That makes for a lot of bad third rounds.”

It should be mentioned, however, that the UFC is unlikely to return to Colorado, the state where its inaugural card was held in the fall of 1993, in the near future, as the promotion’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Marc Ratner, is soundly opposed to the CSBC approving the use of knee strikes to a grounded opponent’s head as legal blows in MMA, also legal in ONE Championship.

Tony Cummings On Open-Scoring

In the other corner, you have the camp who supports open-scoring, such as CSBC director Tony Cummings, who explained to ESPN on Oct. 12 that the practice would help with transparency in the sport.

“I think it applies real-time accountability,” Cummings said. “I should be answering questions (about judging) in real-time. I shouldn’t be answering them two or three days later.”

As per the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, there is currently no universal policy for open-scoring, leaving the decision to use open-scoring in combat sports (or not) in the hands of the various state athletic commissions.

Open-Scoring Across the Board in MMA Would Make For Entertaining Fights

While the debate both for and against universal open-scoring in MMA is likely not going away any time in the near future, in my opinion, having universal open-scoring would make for some rather exciting contests inside the cage.

Think about this one for a moment:

If universal open-scoring were to be utilized in MMA, it could potentially result in the trailing fighter on the scorecards adjusting his or her gameplan during the 60-second break ahead of the last round to try and steal away the win via knockout or submission from the controlling fighter.

Open-scoring could yield to more contenders for the “Fight of the Night” award.

A single UFC Fight Night could have multiple “Fight of the Night” contenders with open-scoring, as opposed to those nights where you just know that there’s a clear-cut winner for the award, usually the headlining bout.

It would all start with universal open-scoring in MMA.


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