UNANIMOUS DRAW : Machida vs Rua | UMMA Magazine / Feature 2010


In the March and April issues of this magazine, we published the Mixed Martial Arts Specific Scoring (pronounced MASS) that Nelson “Doc” Hamilton and Cory Schafer submitted to the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) for their review.

The MMAS scoring system comprises four distinct changes to the 10-Point Must system presently in use. To thoroughly understand the scoring system, read the full MMAS text posted at mmarefs.com.

This article is part of that series. — Editor


To more clearly illustrate how MMAS scoring works and why it is considered superior to the presently employed TPM system, I have used it to re-score some of the more “controversial decisions” rendered in recent bouts.

Be advised, re-scoring the following fights in no way implies that the original decisions were incorrect and in no way questions the abilities of the judges who scored the contests. The revisions simply demonstrate the decision possibilities if “MMAS” was in effect at the time of the original fight.

It is important for the reader to understand that all rounds originally scored unanimous by the judges scoring the fight are scored the same by me. The only difference is that in utilizing “MMAS” to score each round, the numerical values change, illustrating the qualitative difference in the score, and ultimately demonstrating how the outcome of the fight is affected. Where the judges did not score a round unanimously, I have made a judgment call in determining the winner of that round.


BOUT 1 - Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin | UFC 86 | July 5, 2008


The official final score was a unanimous decision win for Forrest Griffin; two judges scored a 10-8 second round for a 48-46 total, and the remaining judge scored it 49-46.

Round 1:

Although Griffin outscored Jackson 26 to 17 and probably won three minutes of the round, Jackson landed a few combinations, one resulting in a knockdown. Griffin did not appear hurt and finished the round strong.
Official Score: All three judges scored Jackson 10, Griffin 9.
MMAS Score: Jackson clearly won the round 10-9, based on the more effective striking.

Round 2:

Griffin totally dominated this round. He hurt Jackson with a leg kick, followed him to the ground and employed an effective ground and pound, as well as two guard passes, one to a full mount.
Official Score: The round was scored unanimously for Griffin; two judges scored 10-8, the third judge scored 10-9.
MMAS Score: Griffin 10-8 based on damage inflicted, effective striking and grappling.

Round 3:

Neither fighter clearly distinguished himself. Despite Griffin landing more strikes, 14 to 8, Jackson landed a higher percentage of head strikes. This was an extremely close round.
Official Score: The exact score is unknown to me, but based on the final score it appears that the round was scored 10-9 Griffin.
MMAS Score: Jackson 10-9.5 based on a marginal advantage in effective striking.

Round 4: Jackson controlled the stand-up aspect of the fight and clearly landed the majority of strikes. Griffin applied a threatening triangle that Jackson defended well.
Official Score: Jackson 10-9
MMAS Score: Jackson 10-9 based on a clear advantage in effective striking and cage control.

Round 5: Griffin was the busier fighter, out striking Jackson 24 to 12 and finishing stronger. Jackson appeared to run out of gas.
Official Score: Griffin 10-9
MMAS Score: Griffin 10-9 based on a clear advantage in effective striking.

MMAS Final Score: Griffin 47.5, Jackson 47

BOUT 2 - Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida | Ultimate Fight Night 9 Finals | June 6, 2009


The official final score had Sanchez winning a split decision. One judge scored it 29-28 and one 30-27 for Sanchez; the third judge scored in favor of Guida, 29-28.

Round 1:

Sanchez blitzed Guida, effectively landing a variety of strikes from the opening bell until Guida took him down at 3:52. Guida’s ground and pound was minimal and both fighters were standing at the 2:20 mark. Sanchez knocked Guida down with a head kick, but Guida was back up at 2:00 and resumed striking.

Sanchez took Guida down once more before the round ended. Although Sanchez dominated approximately three minutes of the round, Guida had his moments and never appeared to be out of the fight.
Official Score: Two judges scored 10-9 Sanchez; the third judge scored 10-8 Sanchez.
MMAS Score: Based on damage and dominant striking: Sanchez 10-Guida 8.5.

Round 2:

Guida took Sanchez down at the 4:28 mark and kept him there for the entire round. Guida employed a decent ground and pound, resulting in some damage, but Sanchez was also effective with elbow strikes to the top of Guida’s head.
Official Score: All three judges scored 10-9 in favor of Guida.
MMAS Score: Based on the takedown, ground and pound and cage control: Guida 10-Sanchez 9.

Round 3:

Striking was essentially even until the 1:49 mark when Guida shot in and missed, at which point Sanchez momentarily took his back and attempted a triangle choke, which Guida countered and took top position at 1:25. Sanchez had an unsuccessful Kimura attempt in the last 30 seconds.
Official Score: Two judges scored 10-9 Sanchez; the third judge scored 10-9 Guida.
MMAS Score: Based on marginally superior striking and two submission attempts, Sanchez 10–Guida 9.5.

MMAS Final Score: Sanchez 29-Guida 28

NOTE: Although the MMAS revised final score is identical to that of two of the judges; the MMAS round-by-round scores are significantly more descriptive in reflecting the qualitative difference in how each round was won.

BOUT 3 - Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua | UFC 104 | Oct. 24, 2009


The outcome of this fight is official; Machida won by the score of 48-47. I have no intention of re-hashing which fighter should have won the fight. Also, given the lack of unanimity as to which fighter won which round, I have based my MMAS scores on the judges’ round-by-round scores.

The only fact in agreement by most observers of this fight is that it was extremely close for all five rounds. Several rounds could have gone either way. Two of the judges scoring the bout gave Machida the first three rounds. Many of those in the press scored rounds one, four and five for Shogun.

As this fight is re-scored using the “MMAS” system, keep in mind that very close rounds not scored even at 10-10 are considered won by marginal advantage and scored 10-9.5.

Any round won by clear advantage is scored 10-9. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the judges’ revised scorecards. The first score listed is Machida’s.

The procedure for resolving draws in the “MMAS” system is to consult the score tabulated by the table judge. Because the entire fight was contested in the standing position, neither fighter scored any technical points. Consequently, the decision remains a draw and Machida retains his title.

Because the judges were unanimous in scoring rounds two and three in favor of Machida, a possible second scenario arises. If those rounds were scored 10-9, the revised final score would be 48.5 Machida to 47.5 Rua.


As one who has judged hundreds of bouts over the past decade, I firmly believe that the present scoring system is severely flawed and a failed experiment. As such, it is the major factor producing questionable decisions, particularly when scoring very close rounds.

Because judging MMA is not an exact science, we must work to make it as flawless as possible. Therefore, in addition to adopting a viable and transparent scoring system specifically designed for MMA, state athletic commissions must fulfill their obligation to provide judges with ongoing, mandatory training and testing. Only then can they be certified and then held accountable for their decisions.

A Summary of MMAS Changes

All rounds are scored as follows.
a. 10-10 = Even round
b. 10-9.5 = Marginal advantage
c. 10-9.0 = Clear advantage
d. 10-8.5 = Dominant advantage
e. 10-8.0 = Overwhelming advantage

Scores are based on the following criteria, listed in descending order of importance.
1. Damage inflicted
2. Effective striking and/or effective grappling
3. Cage (Octagon) control

When the referee determines that a near submission is in effect, he will signal this to the judges by raising his arm overhead until there is a tap out or until the submission is terminated. When scoring, judges should consider a near submission as effective grappling, and quite possibly, damage inflicted.

For the purpose of resolving draws, in addition to the three judges scoring each bout, there is a designated fourth judge, the table judge. Table judges do not score the bout. Their sole responsibility is to tabulate all technical scores. Technical score totals are used to resolve all draws.