MMA judging is great! Just kidding. It’s a mess. Here are some ideas to fix it.

In a sport with as many variables as mixed martial arts, there are no doubts that there will be controversial scores issued by the judges at some point of any event. Take UFC 167, for example. Following the decision announcement in the St-Pierre vs. Hendricks bout, journalists and pundits blew up social media. Given the fact that MMA is now 20 years old in America, this is a sad, sad state.

There have been countless articles all over the interwebs from anyone with an outlet bitching and moaning about how “they should do this” or “they should do that” or “fuck Cecil Peoples.” The latter may be true, but the rest, for the better part, is all bullcrap.

As a former MMA and kickboxing judge in Missouri, I have seen poor judging firsthand more times than I can remember. Most of the time, being as most of the events were held in rural areas, it was sheer incompetence on the part of the judge. To an extent, this is understandable. Most of them were just there for the measly paycheck and a cageside seat. However, a bigger problem arises when you have incompetent judges sealing the fates of the best fighters in the world.

In this writer’s opinion, there are two major problems with the current state of judging: the judges and the lack of clarity in the rules.

Let’s look at the judges first. A vast majority of them come from a boxing background. They understand the striking aspect of MMA, but I believe it is fair to say that most of them have remedial knowledge of grappling at best. Take Tony Weeks, for an example. By far, he is one of the best referees and judges in boxing. But when it comes to MMA, he has issued many questionable decisions.

Now, let’s move on to the lack of clarity in the rules when it comes to MMA. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Lueckenhoff, who oversees my state’s athletic commission and is the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions. I had just begun my stint in MMA judging and reached out to him for some answers for questions I had. I was very disappointed when every question I asked was answered with, “The ABC has no official stance on this issue.” And we were talking about simple questions here, like does striking take precedence over grappling or vice versa. Even though I spoke with him years ago, it doesn’t appear that much has changed or will change in the future.

So what can be done to correct the state of MMA judging?

There are many who believe of moving to a Pride-style judging system. The problem is that the ABC oversees MMA, so everyone can get that notion out of his or her head right now. The 10-point must system is here to stay.

For a while, there was a movement for a half-point system. After breaking down the math, it was determined that greater than 70 percent of fights that went to decision would end in a draw using half points. Who wants to see a card full of draws? That’s why you never hear of it anymore.

How about we actually take a page out of boxing’s book to look for a solution? At most boxing events, you have four officials who rotate between judging and refereeing duties. Appoint John McCarthy, Dan Miragliotta, Yves Lavigne and Herb Dean to every single card. Boom.

Maybe since those four officials aren’t available for every event, we look at former fighters. Who knows the sport better than people who have actually spent years perfecting their craft and testing it inside the cage? No, you don’t, Mr. Keyboard Warrior.

To take that train of thought a bit further, why not get some established members of the media filling out scorecards? Writers like Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole and MMA Weekly’s Erik Fontanez have been covering MMA for years and know it better than 99.9 percent of the people who follow the sport.

At the end of the day, there is no easy answer for fixing MMA judging’s pathetic state. Odds are things will continue to go the way things are for many years to come. Our cries will continue to fall upon deaf ears.

Oh, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission will continue to troll the sport we all love.

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)