Matt Brown: While MMA judging is ‘egregious’, scoring criteria can also be a major part of the problem


Like most people watching UFC 282, Matt Brown felt that Jared Gordon did more than enough to secure a victory over Paddy Pimblett.

Despite an overwhelming number of fighters and journalists scoring the fight for Gordon that night, it was Pimblett who got the nod with all three judges giving him the fight with 29-28 scorecards. Now the three judges that night — Doug Crosby, Chris Lee and Ron McCarthy — all only agreed on the second round going to Pimblett but they were split on rounds 1 and 3.

Either way, Pimblett got the win and it sickens Brown that the judges won’t likely face any repercussions for handing down such a life-changing decision in the biggest fight in Gordon’s life.

” What do judges do? They go home, they sleep at night, they get paid the same, they get no accountability,” Brown argued on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I like that you say their names. That’s what we need to do. We need to start putting their f****** names out there, putting their social media out there. At minimum, they need to be hearing from the fans and from the fighters, the media whatever, putting their names on blast when it’s a decision that bad.

“It was egregious. Like there’s no other word for it. It was an ****** bulls*** ruling and judges must be held responsible .”

Brown acknowledges that MMA has other issues when it comes scoring.

In 2016, the scoring criteria in MMA was overhauled with more defined terms about what should count as a winning round for a fighter. Effective offense was the top criteria. This is based mainly on damage that one fighter inflicts to another.

Here’s how scoring criteria was defined ahead of the new rules being implemented starting in 2017:

A judge shall assess if a fighter damages their opponent significantly in the round, even though they may not have dominated the action. Damage includes visible evidence such as swellings and lacerations. Damage shall also be assessed when a fighter’s actions, using striking and/or grappling, lead to a diminishing of their opponents’ energy, confidence, abilities and spirit. These are all directly related to damage. This is when a fighter suffers from injuries, such as a lack of control or ability. It can lead to crucial moments during the round. These should be evaluated with great importance.

While damage may seem easy to measure, Brown says that it is still too subjective to really understand what’s going on in the cage.

Particularly, the 14-year UFC veteran looks at issues with bruising, lacerations and bleeding that might appear like damage on the surface but in actuality that doesn’t necessarily help to define who won or lost a round.

” “What is damage?” Brown asked. “I punched Bryan Barberena harder than f***. I thought I probably damaged him but he looked at me like a f****** caveman like ‘what’d you do that for?’ Do you consider that damage or not? Let’s say that he struck me in the back and I was cut. But he barely touched me. That’s why it cut, he grazed me. Although he didn’t damage anything, the judges will see that a cut was made and say “that’s damage.” I did more damage than him and likely caused longer-term damage to his financial stability. Which one do you think is the most damaging?

“The judge is going to see some silly little cut as damage. Some people just mar up easier. Some people bruise more easily. We’ve seen many men get beaten up and not look so bad. How is that possible? You then see another person, and they don’t even seem to get their s*** out of them. Their face makes it look like someone has been through five rounds. Damage is such an subjective concept

Brown looks back at the fight against Carlos Condit to see if he thinks the judges gave him damage. However, the lacerations were not caused by punches, kicks, elbows or knees.

“Two to three judges awarded him the first round, much like the one given by the f ***?” Brown. It was probably based on damage. My eye was cut by the cage. I took him down, my eye hit the cage, got cut and they’re probably basing it on that. It looks like I got my arse kicked this round, but I managed to control him throughout the entire round .”

Brown takes it a step further when looking at a strike like leg kicks, which can be a very damaging blow but often times doesn’t seem to get the same about of respect as blows to the head.

There are also some kicks that reverberate throughout an arena but Brown says those aren’t nearly as damaging but it sounds worse than it really is while also leaving red marks from the impact.

“What if I kick your leg 20 times and you’re barely able to walk but you punch my face once or twice and I’m cut up and bruised up,” Brown said. “It’s like who did more damage? You’re not walking in the third round or even leg kicks, that looks damaging but I landed with the foot so it really just slapped and your skin is going to burn pretty bad versus Edson Barboza throws a kick and lands with a shin and the guy is tougher than s*** and isn’t really showing any signs of it hurting him but it actually is. He dug it in deep and you don’t hear no slap or anything because he landed with the shin.

” We could continue on and on about this. It’s just a f****** most subjective thing I’ve ever seen and that’s the top scoring criteria is damage.”

Brown confesses that there’s no easy fix to the judging issues across the board in MMA but it mostly disturbs him that more efforts aren’t being made to improve how fights are scored.

Sadly, Gordon is just the latest fighter to feel robbed by a bad decision but Brown knows without a doubt that he won’t be the last.

“”There is no evolution,” Brown stated. “It’s 10-9 [score] and that’s it. I know we’ve evolved the criteria a little bit but half the f****** criteria’s subjective. The subjectiveness is insane and it just goes so far.”