Sportsnet.ca Point-Counterpoint Full Articles
If you’ve been keeping tabs on me on twitter (and why wouldn’t you?), you probably know that I’ve recently started writing for Sportsnet.ca, which I’m quite proud of. At this point I’ve been contributing to their debate series entitled “Point-Counterpoint” discussing numerous MMA topics with some other writers.
The only drawback to this type of piece is that the space I have to write in is very limited, so unfortunately I see some edits to my work (I could eliminate this problem by writing less, but that isn’t my style), anyways, I’ll post the entirety of the points that I make over at Sportsnet here, so you can read it and judge it in all its glory. This week’s piece in the point-counterpoint series can be found in it’s entirety HERE, and my full thoughts are below.
On the topic of Instant Replay Use in MMA, I had this to write:
When it comes to instant replay having a place in MMA, or combat sports in general, I very warily concede that it should be used. This goes against my better judgement, as instant replay used incorrectly could do more harm than its correct implementation would benefit the sport. As a result, there would need to be some restrictions placed on its use during bouts.For starters, MMA is a completely different sport than your typical stick and ball sport, which all come replete with frequent breaks in action. Sure, MMA has the minute interval between rounds, but for those who watch more traditional sports, when have you ever seen an instant replay review completed in just a minute? It’s pretty rare.With the cardiovascular aspect of MMA being such an integral part to success, providing extended breaks to fighters between rounds to review any sort of call could tip the playing field unfairly in an individual’s direction. This is not the spirit of instant replay.Indeed, I think one of the few occasions where instant replay would benefit the sport is when a natural break in the action already occurs. In this case I’m primarily talking about fouls like groin shots, eye pokes and knees or kicks to the head of a downed opponent. If the referee has already deemed a foul to have occurred and action has stopped, that would be the only suitable time to actually review whether a foul took place or not, as there is enough time to do so. Instant replay could be used in these cases to aid in potential point deductions (or abstaining from such).In a three-round fight, where a single point can make or break a decision, I believe this is the only responsible way to use instant replay in MMA. Any further encroachment into the action taking place in the ring or cage would take away from the viewing experience for the fans, but more importantly could seriously hamper the fighters as well. All in all, I do think instant replay has a place in MMA, but due to the fast-paced nature of the sport it should be a very limited one.
The idea of open scoring in MMA is an intriguing one at first glance, but given a little bit more thought I really don’t see any way in which the sport benefits by implementing it.The normal arguments in favour of open scoring are: 1) That it would force fighters who are losing after two (or four) rounds to go out in the final round looking for the finish; and 2) That it may help to make judges more accountable for their scorecards. To be quite blunt, I don’t see either happening as a result of open scoring.Fighters who have been shut out over the opening rounds of the fight aren’t doing so because they want to lose, instead it is because their opponent is either better, or has a superior gameplan that nullifies their skills. Knowing that you’re down two rounds to none (as say, Leonard Garcia against Matt Grice last weekend) doesn’t change the fact that Garcia can’t stop a takedown to save his life, and the third round was just going to be a repeat of the previous two.The same holds true in five round fights. Look at Rashad Evans’ two most recent fights. Against Phil Davis he was up comfortably, and had well established that Davis could do nothing to change the outcome of the fight, and against Jon Jones he was on the other side of that equation. A fighter can’t magically break from his strengths and completely change his style in the final round just because he’s losing, or else we would already be seeing it.The other aspect to this argument is that more often than not, we have a pretty good idea of what the scorecards are saying before the judges read them to us. Both Tim Boetsch and Martin Kampmann knew they were losing their fights against Yushin Okami and Thiago Alves entering the final round. Still, even in the wake of two impressive comeback victories you can’t say that either fighter changed their style to “go for broke”, they simply had more success in doing what they already do.Even in the case of close fights, both fighters should presumably know from their corner or themselves that the fight is close. Someone letting them know that the scorecards read 19-19 isn’t going to change the mentality of them knowing they need that final round, however finding out that they’re up 20-18 in a competitive fight could cause them to back off a bit in the final round knowing that as long as they survive, they’ve already won.Open scoring is a cure for nothing that is currently amiss in MMA, because even the other side of that equation, the judges, won’t be held any more or less accountable based on this system. I know it’s not an MMA example, but look at the Pacquiao/Bradley decision from this weekend. That was universally regarded as a horrible decision, and Nevada State Athletic Commission chairman Keith Kizer defended his judges with his usual lines of, “You could make the case…”, “You don’t know what the judges saw…” and other inanities. Once these judges have a position within the commission, it’s more difficult to get rid of them than a Canadian senate member.So my question is, if the open scoring doesn’t change what the fighters do, and it doesn’t change what the judges do, what’s the point?