Beginning sometime in the late 1990s, as the Jiu Jitsu era in No Holds Barred/MMA was coming to an end, wrestling began to dominate the sport. Collegiate and professional wrestlers crossed over to MMA and found great success through taking down strikers and using top control to neutralize grapplers.

The rising popularity of professional wrestling organizations such as TNA and WWE provided a guaranteed audience for athletes looking to transition, and an incentive for fight promotions to sign fighters.

This movement, however, created even more of a divide between MMA in North America and MMA in Japan. And to be perfectly honest with you, I think the Japanese have it right.

The problem with martial arts in North America is that the majority of viewers understand more about wrestling than they do about submission grappling. Without a decent knowledge of Jiu Jitsu, grappling battles are hard to interpret and uneducated fans will always think the person on top is winning.

While typically top positions are most dominant, there are some fighters who are more aggressive from their guard (on their back with their legs between them and their opponent) than they are in mount.

In the UFC, fighters can get away with wrestling through an MMA fight and still come away with a victory. Sometimes they are dominant enough to warrant it, but too often I see wrestlers taking down submission grapplers and laying on them for three rounds towards victory.

In Japan if the bottom fighter in these situations has good control – i.e. is breaking the top opponent’s posture, going for submissions, or striking from below – they will win on the judges’ scorecards. In America, simply maintaining top position is enough to win a decision.

There are some steps being made to keep fights exciting. For example, the referee has the power to reset the fight at any time if the fighters aren’t being active enough. The problem is sometimes fights are stood up at controversial times.

In this season of The Ultimate Fighter, episode 6, Angela Magana was on Aisling Daly’s back when the fight was stood up. Was Daly about to slip out the back door? Possibly. Was Magana in the process of setting up the fight-winning armbar? It could have happened.

The fact is, the fight shouldn’t have been stood up with Magana in such a dominant position. That would never have happened in Pride or ONE FC.

While wrestling is starting to lose its dominance as a skill-set – because everyone trains it as a base for MMA – it is still too powerful an element on the score card. One takedown can still eliminate two minutes of dominant striking.

Sitting in a low guard should never score more points than breaking down posture and attacking with strings of strikes and submissions.

The rules need some serious reworking, and the way referees are educated also needs to be looked at. We can’t call the sport “mixed” martial arts if one sport controls so much of the score card.

What do you think?