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UFC Fight Night Saskatoon: The Velten Scoring System

UFC Saskatoon

Submitted by Dan Velten

Part 1 | Part 2

This week, part 3 of this 10 part series, I will continue to examine the current scoring system and also make comparisons to alternative scoring systems. Since this is an attempt to create a more viable and fair system, I am already making some adjustments based on the first two shows, as well as taking into account some helpful feedback from the readers.  This is not a hard and fast experiment looking only at data.  It is an evolving work in progress, and I want to implement any necessary changes ASAP. 

“10-Point Open” Renamed

The previously named “10-Point Open,” in which more of the allotted 10 points are used, will now be called the “True 10-Point” or simply, “True 10.”  While this seems like merely nomenclature, it is not.  It was brought to my attention that the “open” scoring system is actually already in play in some other fighting organizations, but it means something different than what I was intending.

Apparently, a scoring system can be called “open” when the fighters can see the score in between rounds.  I have never seen this before, but I suppose that after the round, the judges’ scores are somehow made public, by either an announcement or scoreboard.  If anyone has further insight into how this works, I would love to hear more.  Obviously, knowing the score changes the game, and I am curious as to whether or not this leads to more fair outcomes, more exciting fights, or perhaps more boring fights.  Clearly, it kills the excitement of the judges’ decision at the end.  

Point Allocation Wording in “True 10 Point” System Adjusted

It will now be as follows:

- 10-10:  No clear round winner; if the case can be made for either fighter, then this is the appropriate round score

- 10-9:  Winner of the round is clear, but the loser did not take much damage

- 10-8:  Winner of the round is clear, but the round loser took damage

- 10-7:  Winner significantly won the round, and the round loser took a lot of damage

- 10-6:  Winner did tremendous damage and it could have been stopped

- 10-5:  Winner dominated the entire round and it should have been stopped, possibly repeatedly

Weighted Rounds for Main Events and Championship Rounds

A reader asked me why I weighted the rounds as 1,2, and 3 points.  My answer was that I did not like when one fighter wins the first two rounds and the loser basically has to finish in the third because judges rarely give 10-8’s, so a decision really only has one possible outcome.  Admittedly, it is a pretty weak argument, but I got sick of seeing guys coast because they knew they had already won a decision.  The sport of Mixed Martial Arts, as I see it, is about somewhat safely replicating a fight to the death in the streets, and thus the fighter should always be trying to finish since there is no time limit to a real fight.

More importantly, it took the onus off the judge to do anything other than pick a round winner; the points would take care of themselves.  That said I did not consider the point differential for 5 round fights, so I decided it would be scored with rounds at 1,1,2,2, and 3 points respectively.  Initially, when creating this method, I thought that since it is a fight, it gets harder the longer it lasts so the third round should be weighted heavier, but the more I think about it, the less that makes sense from a fighter’s perspective.

As a fan, I want excitement all the way to the end, but maybe more needs to be considered.  However, I’m not giving up just yet.  The one good thing about this scoring is that it makes the judges just pick a round winner, and not have to pick a score as well.  So I’m giving this system one more week of fights, as I’m not sure it is valid.  If I do not find it worthy after this card, I may drop the weighted points and simplify it to “Select a Round Winner”

Having addressed the updates, it is now time to introduce a new segment: 

Questioning the Decision: Michael Johnson vs. Beneil Dariush

OFFICIAL RESULT: 29-28 Dariush, 29-28 Johnson, and 29-28 Dariush
RESULT:  Dariush by Split Decision

“In My Book…”

Traditional Scoring:

Rd 1) 10-9 Johnson  Rd 2) 10-9 Johnson  Rd 3) 10-9 Dariush
RESULT:  29-28 Johnson

True 10:

Rd 1) 10-9 Johnson  Rd 2) 10-10  Rd 3) 10-10
RESULT:  30-29 Johnson


I screwed up in my original scoring article because I was writing from cage side and my battery was dying so I rushed it and scored it 4-2 Johnson, but it should have been a 3-3 Draw because I actually had round one being 1 point for Johnson, round two should have been 2 points for Johnson, and round three was 3 points for Dariush.  

RESULT:  3-3 Draw


RESULT:  Johnson


This fight was the perfect example of a match that should have been a draw.  Johnson connected more times statistically, and stuffed takedowns, but did he WIN A FIGHT?  Not “in my book,” (see what I did there) but then again, neither did Dariush. These guys were equally matched and there would have been no harm in declaring the fight a draw. Instead, we get a borderline robbery as the guy who should have at best received a draw, wins.  This highlights the primary problem with the current system.  The loser should never be able to win, no matter how one cherry picks the data.

There is more to scoring than just connecting punches.  MMA is far more complex than boxing.  If we want to just score on stats, then we will quickly turn the sport into a terrible kickboxing league.  There has to be something that takes into account the feeling that 94% of the fans felt when watching that fight, and the majority of people felt Dariush DID NOT WIN. 

Two problems arise from these types of decisions.  The first is that now Johnson has to start over.  He will not get that high profile fight next he wanted.  One could argue that he does not deserve it since he did not do enough.  Valid point.  However, Dariush MAY get that fight, and he does not deserver it either.  Why not just rematch the two?  

The second and bigger problem is for the viewer.  We feel ripped off.  We watched 15 minutes of a pretty good fight, and then did not get the payoff.  In fact, we got the screw job.  Just like in pro wrestling, too many screw job finishes sour the viewer on the product.  This turns fans off because they think the sport is fundamentally broken, or ironically, fixed.  Can you imagine if you were watching the Yankees outscore the Orioles 5-4 and then the Umpires just told the fans after 9 innings that the Orioles won?  This scenario is what the “10-Point Must” system allows to happen.  It must be changed.  

UFC Fight Night Saskatoon -- 

Maryna Moroz vs. Valerie Letourneau

Official Result:  Letourneau by Unanimous Decision, 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27

True Ten:  Rd 1) 10-9 Letourneau  Rd 2) 10-9 Moroz  Rd 3) 10-9 Letourneau   
Result:  29-28 Letourneau

Weighted:  Rd 1) Letourneau + 1  Rd 2) Moroz + 2  Rd 3) Letourneau + 3
Result:  4-2 Letourneau

Pride:  Letourneau 


This was a fine decision. I agree. This was a fight where one girl won for sure in an even match and the scoring was valid and necessary.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Tony Sims

Official Result:  Aubin-Mercier by Unanimous Decision, 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28

True Ten:  Rd 1) 10-7 A-M  Rd 2) 10-8 A-M Rd 3) 10-8 A-M
Result:  30-23 Aubin-Mercier

Weighted:  Rd 1) A-M + 1  Rd 2) A-M + 2  Rd 3) A-M + 3
Result:  6-0 Aubin-Mercier

Pride:  Aubin-Mercier


When a guy has your back, he is always a half second from a finish with the rear naked.  When a guy has your back for all five minutes of a round, you should have lost in that round, which is why I scored round 1 a 10-7 advantage for A-M.  He did not allow Sims a second of offense.  A lot of people argue that being on top should not necessarily score because you are not necessarily doing anything, but given that the guy on the bottom does not want to be there, I think you have to score top position even if not much damage is being done.  

Neil Magny vs. Erick Silva

Official Result:  Magny by Split Decision, on scorecards of 29-28 Magny, 29-28 Silva, and 30-27 Magny

- True Ten:  Rd 1) 10-8 Magny  Rd 2) 10-8 Magny Rd 3) 10-9 Magny
- Result:  30-25 Magny

- Weighted:  Rd 1) Magny + 1  Rd 2) Magny + 2  Rd 3) Magny + 3
- Result:  6-0 Magny

Pride: Magny


I cannot see how anyone would score a round, much less the fight for Silva.  I'll give you that maybe round 3 were even, but Silva did not win that fight.  However, that is a bad judging call, and not a problem with the system.  In this case, the system worked.  The right man won the fight because the majority of the judges (2) got it right, which corrected for the one idiot judge.  

Overall Analysis:

It is still super hard for me to score without reverting back to the traditional mindset.  This show had a few close rounds but nothing that I would vehemently argue, and the decisions all came in correct, which is the important part.  However, I do think there needs to be a massive judging symposium where the criteria for scoring is discussed, and then each judge has to grapple for five minutes and just get grappled to death so they can better understand why ground control should be scored more.  Everyone knows that punches and kicks hurt, but it is tough to explain the punishment of grappling without it being experienced.