Joe Rogan is one of the most respected voices in mixed martial arts. He’s been with the UFC since 1997, long before the UFC president Dana White, who joined the promotion four years later. Rogan recently said he believes changes need to be made to the outdated scoring system in mixed martial arts.
During the last episode of The Joe Rogan Experiencethe podcast host said:
“I said this ad nauseam, but I think we’re very limited by this 10-9, this mandatory 10-point scoring system. Someone can win a 10-9 round and it can be a very tight round. and someone can clearly win a set and it could be 10-9, and that doesn’t make sense to me.”
“I feel like the system is designed for boxing and it’s a good system for boxing. I don’t think it’s a good system for MMA. I think MMA needs a much more comprehensive system. If a guy can hold you down with no damage at all for three minutes versus a guy who holds you down and hurts you for 30 seconds, what’s worth more?”
Rogan also asked how points are awarded and the value given to different moves, such as leg kicks and submission attempts.
Mixed martial arts bouts are currently scored on a 10-point system, adapted from boxing. The system involves the winner of the round receiving ten points. While the loser of the round often receives nine points, sometimes they may only receive eight points from a round if they are on the wrong side of a beating.
Judges can score a round 10-8 based on impact, dominance or duration.
The impact can relate to both physical and mental changes to the opponent. If a fighter appears physically damaged or mentally broken by their opponent, then the round should be scored 10-8.
Dominance concerns either striking or grappling. In the striking aspect, dominance is seen as a fighter continually on the attack, forcing his opponent to defend without countering. Domination in grappling occurs when an opponent lands significant ground and/or attempts submissions.
That said, a round is unlikely to be scored 10-8 if the fight is mostly on the ground and there is no ground and pound involved, regardless of the number of submission attempts or ground control time.
A far less common outcome is that the loser of the round is only awarded seven points. To win a round with a score of 10-7, a fighter must overwhelm their opponent to the point where the judge feels the fight should be stopped. Although this score is very rare, a judge awarded Khamzat Chimaev a score of 10-7 for the first round of his UFC debut against John Phillips in 2020. Chimaev did not let the judges score the second round , finishing Phillips with a D’Arce choke.
Another very rare occurrence is a 10-10 round. For a round to be scored 10-10, a judge must believe that the two fighters faced off. A recent featherweight bout between William Gomis and Jarno Errens at UFC Fight Night 209 received the rare score.
Watch Joe Rogan discuss the need for a new mixed martial arts scoring system below (from 1:55):
Joe Rogan questions Sean O’Malley’s controversial UFC 280 win over Petr Yan
The UFC commentator noted that O’Malley outclassed Yan in terms of significant strikes and Yan landed six takedowns to none from O’Malley. Stating the fight was close, Joe Rogan said:
“No-damage takedowns, what’s that value? I’m not denying that I thought Petr Yan won because I thought he won, but no-damage takedowns against stand-up with damage because ‘Sugar’ landed more standing strikes… The question is, what’s the value of those takedowns and what’s the value of that play and control?”
While Yan had almost six minutes of ground control, two of the three judges seem to have found his advantage in big strikes more valuable.
Watch Joe Rogan discuss Sean O’Malley’s controversial UFC 280 win over Petr Yan below (from 1:21):