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How to make MMA fights more exciting

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

There's a trade off between having exciting fights and being fair to the fighters. The first UFC events were all no holds barred. If a groin attack was part of your martial art it was allowed to be used in the cage. The first UFC events asked the question which ="/Mar tial Arts">martial arts style was superior? Submission grappling came out on top. Now the question is: How can the sport increase PPV buys? Well, the answer to do that is to make fights more exciting or to make fighters more marketable(which is in many ways a numbers game as the more fighters in the sport the more likely for a marketable fighter to come up and more fighters to pad every fighters record).

How do we make MMA fights more exciting?

First, let's identify what makes an exciting fight. Offense tends to be exciting and defense tends to be boring. Take a fighter like Lyoto Machida. He is a very elusive counter striker. He can be an exciting fighter if his offense is greater than his opponents defense but if he's ever matched up with someone with equal defense it would be a dull fight with a lot of missed strikes.

Finishes tend to be exciting. Ground and Pound from the guard, knock outs, knockouts in the muay thai clinch, knockouts when clinched against the cage, submissions, cuts due to punches or elbows, doctor stoppage due to accumulated punishment or injury, slams(very rare for a slam TKO; the Rampage/Arona slam involved a headbutt and the slam from the triangle is blocked by hooking the leg), and disqualifications.

The style most unfavorable to finishing the fights is wrestling, both greco/roman and olympic. You need to have either a good submission game or powerful strikes to take advantage of a good wrestling game. As stated earlier, slam TKOs are very rare. The scoring and MMA round system favor wrestlers despite this style needing to work hard to generate excitement. The scoring system allows wrestlers to win fights without being close to finishing like holding fighters against the cage or holding their opponent against the ground. The round system stops the fight if a wrestler is in trouble.

It makes it very easy for wrestlers to have dull fights as it stands now. They either need finishing ability or their opponent needs to be able to be offensive from their back/against the cage or to easily escape from those positions. Some possible solutions are to have overtime if the fight is in a position that is close to being finished and to change the MMA scoring system to allow more 10-10 rounds.

Wrestling is part of the game but wrestling should be part of the game designed to take away the opponents will leading to an eventual finish. The scoring system could be designed so by default the rounds are 10-10. You have to earn that 10-9. People want the winner of the fight to be who would've eventually won the fight in an enduring contest. You can't tell who would eventually win by who landed more jabs or who had more control. Fighters should use that control and jabs to lead to more dominating attacks.

Another way to generate more exciting fights is via matchmaking. To do that, offense has to be greater than defense. Since, MMA incorporates several different styles it is easy to produce matches where an opponent has offense greater than at least one aspect of his opponents defense. Brock Lesnar versus Frank Mir I is a prototype for an exciting fight. Brock Lesnar had great ground and pound but weak submission defense enabling a lot of suspense when Brock Lesnar was reigning down blows plus creating a come from behind victory when Frank Mir caught him in a submission.

A weak chin and submission defense is another way to generate an exciting fight. What better way to produce excitement than a stellar knockout or a quick finish. However, a strong chin and submission defense is not necessarily bad for generating excitement.

It is a lot more exciting for a fighter to take a lot of punishment than to use movement to avoid it. It is more exciting for a fighter to gut out a submission then to immediately block all attempts. What's bad for excitement is fighters who are good at avoiding strikes and fighters who are good at neutralizing attacks on the ground. The reason why a fighter like Chuck Liddell was so exciting on his feet is that he took punches and came back with harder blows. The reason why a fighter like Ben Henderson is so exciting on the ground is that he gets caught in submission attempts(like in his bout with Donald Cerrone) but he guts them out and eventually escapes.

There's a formula for generating exciting fights. You can either change the rules or scoring system to reward more exciting fighters or you can use effective matchmaking where fighters offense is greater than defense.


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