Georges St Pierre

Grappling is probably the hardest aspect of MMA to judge. This is largely due to the fact that there are so many different forms of grappling. In order to properly judge and score effective grappling in a UFC fight, one must gain an understanding of all the different martial arts that make up grappling, and how they are applied in a UFC match.

Grappling consists of one or more of the following martial arts/disciplines, each unique in their own way: Traditional Western Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, Sambo, Judo, Japanese Jiu-jitsu, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

This article was written to help the average UFC fan gain a better understanding of the criteria that goes into judging effective grappling in the UFC. Having this knowledge will not only help you appreciate the sport more, but also help you analyze ground battles and understand who is winning, and why.

Understanding the Rules

First thing's first, you need to know the rules of the UFC before you're able to judge a fight properly. The UFC started out over 15 years ago with no rules, but since Zuffa, LLC bought them out in 2001, thirty-one rules have been added. Most UFC viewers have a general idea of what the rules are. However, with 31 in place you are bound to have missed one or two. Knowing the restrictions or illegal moves involved in grappling is essential before moving on.

Take a moment to read over the rules of the UFC by clicking on the link below:

Scoring in the Clinch

The clinch is the part of grappling that involves both fighters standing up and clinching together to struggle for dominance. This is primarily a Greco-Roman wrestling technique. The winner of the clinch is the one who is doing any of the following:

  • Landing more strikes
  • Able to control his opponent up against the fence
  • Scores a takedown

Scoring Ground and Pound

Ground and pound essentially is just how it sounds. One fighter gets the other one on the ground and proceeds to pound him with a flurry of punches, elbows, and forearms. It is generally an easy thing to score. The main thing you have to remember is to pay close attention and make sure that the fighter on top is landing all the strikes he is throwing. It would be a shame to not give credit to the bottom fighter for being able to avoid them and throw some of his own.

Scoring Technical Ground Work

The ground work, for most, is one of the hardest parts to accurately judge. In America, almost everyone is familiar with wrestling, we grow up just assuming that if you're on top of your opponent, you're winning the fight. However, this is hardly the case.

Jiu Jitsu is a key aspect to ground fighting. When scoring a fight you need to pay just as much attention to the guy on the bottom as the guy on top. You have to determine who REALLY has control of the fight. To do this, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the fighter on top actively passing guard and/or moving to mount position? If so, that's points for him.
  • Is the fighter on the bottom threatening the top fighter with submission attempts or reversals? If so, that's points for him.
  • Is the top fighter just lying in the bottom fighter's guard and neither of them are doing much of anything? If so, then that's a neutral position.

Scoring Takedowns

A lot of people out there get the impression that the UFC judges takedowns as if they were a fight ending maneuver. Unfortunately, sometimes they kind of give off that impression. Despite a few judges who may not quite understand MMA completely, the official criteria for judging takedowns in the UFC states that takedowns only have value if they lead to that fighter scoring points on the ground. It is unfair to automatically give a fighter points for a takedown, when sometimes the other fighter is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu specialist who PREFERS to fight off his back. Also, a takedown is equal to a reversal in terms of points.

If both fighters remain in a neutral position on the ground for a whole round, then the fighter who initiated the takedown wins the round by default.

Learn Some More!

Now that you have a better understanding on how to judge grappling in the UFC, take a look at my other InfoBarrels listed below. The more you understand this amazing sport, the more you're going to love it.