The UFC organization has its own set of rules and regulations that govern how it decides who wins a match. That decision is made by three judges, each of whom scores every fight on a scale from 1-10 based on several criteria they consider while watching the action.
While many fans like this method because it creates more drama around individual matches than other combat sports, some think it unfairly punishes fighters who rely heavily on grappling techniques such as wrestling or jiu-jitsu.
Many fans find this boring when one fighter holds his opponent down for long stretches without landing any significant strikes or submissions because it seems unfair to both participants.
Certain points are scored during each round, and if you have to fight for three rounds, the fighter with more points will be declared the winner.
Scoring System in UFC
The scoring system in UFC has been discussed below.
Explanation of the 10-Point Must System
The 10-point must system is a way of scoring fights in UFC. The round winner is awarded 10 points and the loser 9 points, regardless of how long the fight lasted or how many takedowns were attempted.
The idea behind this system is to reward fighters who land effective strikes and take down their opponent more often than not over those who do neither–and it makes sense: If you’re not doing anything productive during a given minute, you should lose out on those precious points.
This scoring method has been used in MMA since 2001 and was adopted by UFC in 2009 after being tested at UFC 83 under different names such as “judges’ scorecards” or “10-8 system.”
Criteria For Judging a UFC Fight
The criteria for judging a UFC fight are as follows:
The fighter who lands the most significant strikes or controls the other fighter on the mat wins this category. If both fighters land equal effective strikes, then octagon control will be considered instead.
UFC fighter dictating where the fight takes place and not allowing his opponent to get off much offense wins this category (and thus scores highly ineffective striking). A good example is when someone like Jon Jones locks his opponent against the fence for five minutes straight.
He’s controlling where they go and keeping them from doing much else besides trying to escape from him; that’s how he wins octagon control points.
The judges are also looking for aggression. This is a factor in scoring, and it can be either positive or negative. You will see this reflected in a fighter’s scorecard if they are aggressive but not landing many strikes or passive and not moving forward.
If you’re not trying to win by landing more strikes than your opponent (or doing anything else), why should we give the round to you?
If a fighter lands more strikes than their opponent during an exchange, they will be deemed more aggressive and therefore win that round based on their higher number of landed strikes.
On the other hand, if both fighters land exactly one strike during an exchange (or none at all), then neither can claim greater dominance over the other in terms of effectiveness; thusly, both would receive even scores for that round.
However, if one fighter lands more punches than another over five minutes and then takes control of where things happen during those five minutes, that person probably deserves some recognition as being more aggressive than his opponent.
Factors Considered in Choosing the Winner
In choosing the winner, the judges consider factors such as:
Close Round Considerations
If a round is close, the fight will be declared a draw. In these cases, judges are instructed to give 10-10 scores for both fighters if they were effective in their offense and defense. All of the possible round points have been discussed below.
- A 10-10 round is a round that could have gone either way. There was no clear winner, and neither fighter had the edge.
- It also means that this particular round did not impact the result of the fight or decision, so if you’re looking for why one fighter won or lost by split decision (or unanimous), this isn’t it!
- The 10-10 score is most commonly given when there is little action during a fight, and both fighters try not to get knocked out by their opponent’s strikes.
A 10-9 round means the fighter won the round, but not by much. The judge felt the fighter was slightly better than his opponent in that round.
The difference between 10-8 and 10-9 is very small, so it’s important not to overthink when these scores pop up on your screen during an event (or fight night).
10-8 rounds are very rare, but they do happen. A 10-8 round is a dominant one-for-one fighter, indicating that the winner should be awarded a 10-8 win.
If you see this on your scorecard, it means that you thought the winner won all three minutes of the round and had an advantage over his opponent in every aspect of that round: striking, grappling, and even cardio (if applicable).
The rarest score is a 10-7 round because it indicates that one fighter completely dominated the other over the course of three minutes. This happens very rarely in MMA (and combat sports in general).
A common misconception is that both fighters can receive a 10-7 victory; however, this isn’t true. You may have noticed that I said “one fighter completely dominated” above instead of something like “both fighters were equally matched.”
That’s because when there is no clear winner after three minutes of fighting, judges will use their discretion before deciding based on how close each competitor came to winning by dominating his opponent during those three minutes.
Takedowns and Ground Control
Takedowns and ground control are important because they provide control of the fight. A takedown can be scored in two ways:
- Points for takedowns – If you take an opponent down and hold them there long enough to get three seconds on their clock without them getting back up before you release them from your control.
Then this counts as one point toward your total score for that round (and two points if it happens again). You also receive a bonus point if you pass their guard after taking them down.
However, this does not count toward any specific round’s total score unless otherwise noted by commentators during live broadcasts.
- Points for control on the ground – If someone manages to get past his opponent’s guard while attacking from above him/herself, then he/she will earn 1 point per minute spent controlling his opponent with strikes while lying flat on top without being submitted.
Damage inflicted is a factor in scoring, but it’s not the only one. While damage inflicted is a subjective measure and can be difficult to quantify, it’s still important for judges to consider when scoring fights.
When two opponents are fighting, the damage each inflicts on the other is considered. The fighter who does the most damage is usually the one who is declared the winner.
Results of UFC Matches Decided By Judge’s Verdict
In UFC Fight, 3 judges decide who is the winner or loser of the match. Judges’ verdicts are the most common way to decide on UFC matches. Here’s how it works:
If a fight goes to a majority decision, the number of rounds won determines the winner. If the winner has won more rounds than their opponent, they win the fight. A fighter wins a round when earning more than half of the total points available.
The only exception would be if all the judges scored it 30-27 in favor of one fighter. That fighter would win unanimously on points instead of via majority decision rules outlined above since none of them have any scorecards that differ from each other by more than one point per round (in which case, we’d say there was no difference between these two scores).
An Unanimous Decision
All three judges have to agree on who won each round, and a majority decision isn’t enough; this means that if two judges score round one for Fighter A and one score it for Fighter B, then Fighter A wins by the unanimous decision because there was no majority (or tie).
The Technical Decision
If the fight is close and competitive, but you’re behind on the scorecards, you can still win by technical decision. The fighter must win by enough margin that the fight is competitive. For example:
- If two fighters are tied at one round each, and one has a 10-9 edge in total strikes landed over the course of three rounds, they would both receive a technical decision win if they end up being even after five rounds (ex. 1-1).
- If two fighters are tied at two rounds each, and one has a 10-9 edge in total strikes landed over the course of four rounds, he would receive an extra point for having won three out of four rounds–and therefore win by unanimous decision (30-27).
A mixed decision is determined by totaling up the judges’ scores. If two judges have a fighter winning, that fighter wins regardless of what the third judge has to say. If all judges score it a draw (or no one wins), they’ll have to go into extra rounds until there’s an official winner.
- It’s a unanimous draw when two judges score the fight for each fighter.
- When a judge scores the fight a draw, but the other two judges score it for one fighter or the other, that’s also called a unanimous draw. In this case, though, we don’t know which fighter got their hand raised (which is why you’ll sometimes hear people say “unanimous decision” instead of just “unanimous draw”).
A majority draw is a result that occurs when two fighters have each won one round. It differs from a split decision in that there are no points involved, and it’s not the same as a majority decision either, in which the judges score differently but all agree on who won the fight (or at least that one fighter did).
If the fight is decided, it’s up to the judges. Each judge scores each round of the fight on a ten-point scale, with ten being a perfect round and zero being completely dominated (or “owned,” as they say in MMA). The winner is determined by who has more points at the end of all five rounds combined and how wide those gaps are between each fighter’s scores.
A split draw is a match that ends in a tie. Unlike a majority draw, which only occurs when both competitors are still standing at the end of three rounds, and neither has won by knockout or submission (more on those later), it can happen during any round.
If there’s been some foul or illegal move in your fight, you might have heard this referred to as a “technical” draw; if so, you’re not wrong.
In this case, we’ll say that our first judge scored round 1 for Fighter A; our second judge scored round 2 for Fighter B; our third judge scored rounds 1 + 2 for Fighter B. And then all judges agreed on giving round 3 back to Fighter A again because he landed more strikes than his opponent during those 15 minutes on his feet.
Controversies in UFC Judging
Controversies in UFC judging are not uncommon. There have been several high-profile cases in which the judge’s decision has been questioned. This has led to much debate about the fairness of the UFC’s judging system.
Some people argue that the system is biased against certain fighters. In contrast, others believe that the judges are simply making the best decision based on the information available to them. Whatever the case may be, there’s clear room for improvement when it comes to UFC judging.
Here are some FAQs has been answered.
Has a 10-7 Round Ever Happened in a UFC Fight?
A 10-7 round is rare, but it’s not unheard of. This type of score often occurs when one fighter knocks out another or puts them in such a bad position that they can’t do anything to defend themselves.
One example occurred during UFC 159 in April 2013 when light heavyweight Forrest Petz took on Sammy Morgan.
In the second round of their bout, Forrest was knocked down twice and could not mount any offense against Morgan’s barrage of strikes. As a result, all judges awarded Sammy Morgan a 10-7 score for his dominant performance.
How Do Illegal Punches Impact UFC Scoring?
If you see a referee warn a fighter for illegal strikes, it’s not because they’re trying to spoil their fun. Illegal punches are scored as 10-8 in the UFC, which means they can greatly impact how judges score fights.
At first glance, this seems like it would be easy to understand: The fighter who throws an illegal punch will lose points and get warned by the referee, right?
Well…kind of! If you look at how many fights end up with warnings after each round (which we’ll talk more about later), it becomes clear that warnings aren’t always given out fairly or evenly between fighters–and sometimes, they’re not given out when they should be.
If you’re a UFC fan, you know that judging is one of the biggest controversies in MMA. The UFC has done a lot to try and improve their scoring system over the years, but it’s still not perfect. There have been plenty of fights where it seemed like one fighter won, only for judges to give the other guy or gal the victory instead.
In our opinion, this happens because so many factors are involved when determining who wins a bout (such as effective striking/grappling).
It’s difficult for judges to keep track of everything going on in seconds while watching two fighters exchange blows from different angles around them (this explains why they sometimes miss kicks).