As a business, if you’re not using social media, you’re doing it wrong.

Sure, companies can make it without a website or an Instagram account, but the way to reach out to the masses is by staying up with technology. Last Thursday, Bellator MMA launched a smartphone app for the iPhone (with an Android version soon to debut as well) that, according to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, “will resonate with our first-adopter audience who will feel closer to the action than ever before.”

The app runs very smoothly, has a nice flow and build to it, and it is filled with data, including upcoming events, fighter information and breakdowns, along with a couple of other fun features. One of those features is what is being called “The 4th Judge,” where the viewer can vote in real-time with the fight for who they think won the round, turning the fans into the unofficial fourth judge for the fights.

Having viewers open the app and press a button to vote on who they think won the round is fine, but the voting system currently is flawed. If the viewer wants to, they can vote on who they think won the round in the first 20 seconds of that time period. Considering that a good judge should take into consideration the entire five minutes before filling out their official scorecard, it is a bit bizarre that the app allows for fans to pick who won the round prior to the end of that round.

Understanding that the time in between each round is only one minute makes it difficult to get the information that the company wants to the announcers for the broadcast. However, allowing for viewers to vote so early into rounds tarnishes the feature. It should be changed so that you cannot vote for the round winner until there is 30 seconds left in the round, and then close off the polls 30 seconds after the end of the round, or maybe start the voting with 45 seconds left and cut it off at 15 seconds after the round’s conclusion. Doing this would allow for proper voting from the viewer, and it would allow the production crew to channel the information announcer Jimmy Smith in plenty of time for him to give his unofficial scoring of the round along with sharing the opinions of the fans.

But on the same screen as “The 4th Judge” is one of the cooler features that I have seen while watching a fight, and that is the real-time strikes landed tracker. The app updates the strikes landed stats, tallied by CompuStrike, as they happen. Sure, promotions usually flash a ticker on the screen for five seconds at a time or show the figures at the end of the fight, but having the information on who has actually landed more, rather than appeared to have landed more, is a very fun feature. Throughout all three main card fights, the numbers of total strikes landed continued to rack up, most noticeably during the Saad Awad versus Will Brooks fight. This feature worked, and worked great. But expanding upon this functionality by including punches, elbows, kicks, knees, takedowns, submission attempts and other statistics would improve the experience for the user and would lead to more accurate judging by people using “The 4th Judge” feature.

There are still some kinks that need to be worked out and fixed, as in any new application. The fighter pictures is one important detail that needs improvement. There were several oddities in this aspect of the app, including having an image of Travis Wiuff as the picture for Chris Davis and others and not having a picture for heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov. Another notable display mishap involved the app listing Rene Nazare’s name as “Nazare Unknown.” These are things that wouldn’t keep you from opening the app again, but they are among the list of what needs to be addressed as the promotion updates and polishes the app.

Although Bellator’s new app isn’t perfect, it’s still a second-screen experience that will have fans checking to make sure that their phone has enough juice left in it come Thursday evening. Being able to vote for who won the round immediately after the fighters touch gloves may be annoying, but this writer will just have to trust in the MMA community to wait until the end of the round to vote, at least until this feature is fixed. If Bellator appropriately updates the app and improves its features, it will make the viewing experience even better.

Photo: Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.