Browsing all articles from November, 2009

UFC in Need of Rule Changes

The last two UFC main events have ended on judge’s scorecards and the decisions were controversial. Last night at UFC 105, Randy Couture beat Brandon Vera by unanimous decision and at UFC 104 Lyoto Machida defended his light heavyweight belt with a unanimous decision  over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. To many fans at home these looked the wrong decisions.

Last night, Couture controlled the pace of the fight well throughout, but Vera appeared to do more damage than Couture did throughout the fight.  At one point Vera rocked Couture with a strike, Couture fell to the ground and turned his back as if retreating. Watching from home it appeared that Couture won the first round, Vera won the second, and Vera won the third.  Both the second and third rounds were close but Vera got the lone takedown of the night in the third round. Couture’s win was not as much of a surprise as the unanimous decision.  The fact that Couture retreated from combat  and yet still won does not sit well.

The title fight in UFC 104 was rather uneventful, with not much happening in the five rounds.  No fighter appeared to have a distinct advantage on the scorecards. Rua attacked, while Machida was content to defend and never really pressed much of an offense.  It could be argued that Machida showed better technique, but he showed less fighting all around.

UFC President Dana White cannot be happy with the way his last two Main Events have gone.  White has clashed with fighters he thought did not bring enough a show to Octagon.  He took more than a few shots at former heavyweight champion Tim Slyvia, who he thought was too timid in his title defenses. For fights to end the way White wants them to, there might have to be a change to the rules.

Right now the UFC uses the Unified Rules for Mixed Martial Arts. This rule set is a 10-Point Must System were the winner of a round is awarded ten points and the loser is awarded nine or less.  The points are awarded based on “effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense. ” That kind of rule set works fine if there is a consistent pace of action. But there does not seem to be enough incentive for all the fighters to push the pace. A belt-holder knows that they can hang back; there may be more of a risk in losing the belt by engaging the opponent.

There is a thought that you have to take the belt away from a champion and that a veteran will receive a more favorable decision than an up-and-comer. While those sentiments make sense, they are not fair and they do not always make for good fights.  The UFC needs to modify the rules to fit the style of fights the fans want. There needs to be points deducted from a fighter who does not engage or retreats during a fight (Timidity is a foul but that does not seem to cover plain tentativeness).  Punishing fighters who retreated or refused to meaningfully engage would force the action of a fight to continue and turn snooze fests like Rua vs. Machida into actual entertainment.

The NHL and the NFL made changes in recent years to increase the offense in their games. While some purists complain about the bastardization of hockey and football most fans are happier than ever with those sports. If Dana White wants the UFC to continue to grow he needs to make sure the fight by decisions we have been seeing recently stop happening.