Shut Up Joe

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In which Chris discusses his occasional annoyance with one of our favourite announcers, talks about the importance of commentary in the perception of MMA and asks YOU a question.

Sometimes, I just wanna throttle Joe Rogan.

Let me be clear, most of the time I’m a big fan and find his commentary insightful (especially as regards jiujitsu) and characterful, I’m a fan of his comedy work and while I don’t always agree with his musings on drugs, politics and other things, I tend to find them interesting.

However, last night, he reminded me of a few things that I don’t like so much. Specifically some of the things he states regarding the rules and scoring criteria of MMA that JUST AREN’T TRUE.

On this occasion it was the repeated assertion that obvious physical damage affects/should affect how judges score rounds and the comment that a round where a knockdown occurs should be scored as a 10-8 for the aggressor.

Neither are to my understanding, true.

To quote the UFC’s own published version of the Unified Rules…

“Effective striking is judged by determining the total number of legal strikes landed by a contestant.”

No mention of damage there. I suppose you could construe it to be scoring under ‘effective aggressiveness’ but then again…

“Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike.”

Damage is mentioned as an indicator of effective offence NOWHERE in the rules, and for good reason – because some folks mark up easier than others and there are a plethora of techniques you can use to bruise or cut an opponent that have little EFFECTIVE martial arts use.

Counting damage as an scoring indicator effectively penalises pale skinned fighters and hands a natural advantage to anyone who utilises low risk attacks like elbows, which can cause cuts that do not necessarily actually impede your opponent’s ability to fight.

Striking should be scored on the number and evident effect of strikes. Things like knockdowns, blows that stagger an opponent or clearly wind them or have a cumulative effect on their movement are what should count with added weight than the cold stats, not whether one guy took a shiner.

Similarly, while I’ve said that knockdowns ARE an indicator of effective striking, one does not necessarily win you a 10-8 round. This is because rounds are scored AS A WHOLE, and if one fighter has the better of a round for four and a half minutes, then gets caught and knocked down towards the end of the round it’s hardly fair that their lengthy period of dominance is completely undone by one, possibly lucky strike.

On scoring rounds the rules say this…

“The following objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges when scoring a round:
– a round is to be scored as a 10-10 round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows clear dominance in a round;
– a round is to be scored as a 10-9 round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other manoeuvres;
– a round is to be scored as a 10-8 round when a contestant overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round.
– a round is to be scored as a 10-7 round when a contestant totally dominates by striking or grappling in a round.”

No mention of a knockdown being a de facto 10-8. Now, of course if the round is largely even and one fighter scores a knockdown that comes close to a TKO finish, THEN the round is a 10-8. Specific context is everything.

Of course, you could say that Joe is just saying that the judges are LIKELY to score a round because of damage or overly weight a knockdown but by stating it as fact, he is implanting a false idea of the scoring criteria in the minds of impressionable fans.

Commentators have a singularly important role in influencing how fans – especially new or casual fans – perceive fights. As such when they make statements that are untrue, especially ones that colour how the sport is perceived, it’s something that really gets under my skin.

The examples I’ve provided could play a part in convincing fans or worse, critics that MMA is all about blood and concussion, promoting the booing of less visceral, more technical contests, the idea that willingness to throw down should score more than actual control and technique and generally getting away from Mixed Martial Arts and more towards No Holds Barred.

We don’t want that to be the perception, of anyone, anywhere.

Sure, that’s a long road, and by no means do I lay that at Joe’s feet, indeed I fully appreciate he’s done a whole lot to promote MMA and jiujitsu and as I said at the top I’m a fan, but sometimes… he doesn’t help.

Having vented all of that, I want to ask you a question.

What are your favourite qualities in an MMA announcer, which announcers do you like best and conversely which announcers or tendencies bug the hell out of you?

Do tell…

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