The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) holds annual conventions, and last year veteran MMA referee and judge Nelson "Doc" Hamilton presented the Half-Point Scoring System as an alternative to the Ten Point Must. A Scoring Committee was then formed to explore the merits of the system and report their findings the following year.
If you're not familiar with the innovative ideas associated with the Half-Point System -- such as the broader gradient of available scores, the referee signaling a near-submission, or the role of the additional fourth judge -- you should be. I suggest reading Doc Hamilton's theory about the existing problems with MMA judging and how the Half-Point System would offer the freedom "to score bouts in a manner that accurately reflects the qualitative difference between the combatants."
The 2011 ABC convention concluded last weekend and I just received a copy of the Scoring Committee's analysis of the Half-Point System. I'm encouraged by the results. The report lays out the positive and negative aspects of each individual component of the system, and their findings indicate a very logical and realistic stance on the judging predicament overall. The entire report is posted in the full entry, but first, I'll extract and compile what I feel are the most noteworthy parts.
Two aspects of the Half-Point System that I'm adamantly opposed to were both shot down by the committee: the referee signaling a near-submission and the addition of a fourth judge. In the event of a draw, this "table judge" would appoint a winner by tallying up scores that are derived from a rigid point system. The reasons these two components were nixed mirror my opinions precisely.
The first of the three issues raised in having the ref signal a near-submission is:
a) The Referee's primary responsibility is for the safety of the fighters. By adding this additional role, the committee felt that this had the potential of affecting the referee's ability to stay focused on the task of administering the primary mandate, that is, fighter protection. As a general rule the more complex you make a task the greater the chance for failure.
Two of the three justifications for eliminating the table judge to break draws by tabulating points are:
a) The Committee felt that having a 4th judge decide a contest based on different judging criteria might create additional problems, the point being that athletes are used to certain judging criteria and then are being judged on a different criteria to break the ties.
c) Currently athletic Commissions are having a difficult time finding qualified judges to fill the three positions, much less finding additional qualified personnel to fill this fourth spot.
Cue the applause. I could not have summarized the concerns better. The influence of the media in the Stakeholder Questionnaire and the passage on draws are also worth noting, but these two poignant observations in the Additional Comments section show an honest assessment that most fans will agree with.
- The Committee felt that whether the current 10 point system remains intact or the proposed ½ point system (or any variations thereof) is adopted that MMA officials are still lacking in an overall understanding of the sport. As one committee member stated "the ½ point system will not make a bad judge a better judge."
- The Committee also felt that a more defined scoring system should be adopted with respect to judging, which would enhance MMA judges with respect to their decisions.