Anderson Silva

There are many different aspects involved in MMA, hence the reason it's called "mixed" martial arts. Therefore, it's important for viewers and judges to understand all the individual aspects in order to understand what they are watching, who is winning the fight, and how they are winning the fight.

The judging in the UFC can be broken down into 4 major categories: effective striking, effective grappling, Octagon control, and effective aggressiveness. This particular article was created to help the average UFC fan get a better understanding of how to judge the striking aspect of MMA. Striking can be from many different martial arts such as boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, karate, and taekwondo.

Understanding the Rules

It turns out that knowing the rules of a competition is essential to being able to make an accurate judgement. If you have never seen the complete list of UFC rules, today is your lucky day. The UFC currently has 31 rules set in place. Some of these rules were added by the UFC, and some were added by the State Athletic Commissions. Even if you think you know the rules of the UFC, you still might want to take a look at the list, because there might be a few that you've never heard of.

Take a moment to read over the rules of the UFC before moving on.

Judging Criteria for Striking

After reading the official UFC rules, you need to find out what criteria the judges base their scores on. In the UFC, you can judge striking by breaking it down into two categories:

  1. Effectiveness - the fighter who lands the harder strikes
  2. Efficiency - the fighter who lands the cleaner strikes

Scoring Effective Striking

Effective striking is sometimes tricky to score. A fighter can be getting hit with hard strikes, but not show any visible evidence such as bruising, swelling or bleeding. In addition to this, leg kicks can be very effective but deceivingly weak to the eye of the viewer. This is why it is important to pay close attention during the fight to make sure you render an acceptable decision. While watching the fight, ask yourself these questions:

For punches/knees:

  • Is either fighter often getting knocked off balance or falling down after being struck?
  • Is either fighter showing visible discomfort after getting hit? (Backing away from an exchange, resorting to a takedown attempt, resorting to tying up in the clinch, etc)
  • Does either fighter have any visible signs of bruising, bleeding, or swelling after being hit?

For leg/body kicks:

  • Is either fighter showing red marks or bruising on their legs or bodies after being kicked?
  • Does either fighter favor the leg or side of the body that's being kicked? (Limping, overprotecting, etc)
  • While watching someone get leg kicked, do you hear a "thud", or a "slap" noise? (A thud indicates a harder and more effective kick than a slap)

For judging strikes while the fighters are on the ground, keep in mind that generally the fighter throwing strikes from the top is throwing "higher quality" strikes.

Scoring Efficient Striking

Efficient striking can be judged by paying attention to which fighter is landing a higher number of clean shots. If one fighter is throwing a lot of strikes but missing most of them, and the other fighter is thrower fewer strikes but landing almost all of them, then the 2nd fighter is being a more efficient striker.

For judging efficient strikes when the fighters are on the ground, pay close attention to the fighter on top and see if he is actually landing the strikes he is throwing. Sometimes fighters in top position can burst into ground and pound flurries and end up missing 90% of the strikes he wildly threw. But from certain angles, it may look to the casual viewer that the fighter on top is doing massive damage. You just have to do your best to pay attention.

Putting it All Together

When making your final judgement for who won the striking for the round, you need to take both of the efficiency and the effectiveness into consideration. It's easy enough, but there's just a few things you need to know first:

  • A striker who lands effective AND efficient strikes, deserves more credit than the other fighter if he lands a greater number of less effective strikes.
  • If the striking power between the fighters was equal, then whoever had the higher number of landed strikes deserves more credit. It must be a sufficiently higher amount than the other fighter's total number to earn the winning round.

Learn Some More!

Now that you understand how the UFC judges striking, take a look at my InfoBarrel articles listed below. Having the ability to judge and analyze fights helps you get a greater understanding of this wonderful sport. You'll be able to recognize ahead of time which fighter is going to win the fight, even when it's a close one (barring a different judgement from the UFC judges).