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UFC's Marc Ratner defends use of ten-point must system in mixed martial arts

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Ethan Miller

From a regulatory standpoint, there a number of hot topics in the sport of mixed martial arts today. One that stands above the rest because it seemingly never goes away is the controversy surrounding the use of the 'ten-point must system'. Borrowed from boxing, it awards ten points to the winner of a round and nine points or less to the loser.

Yet, in the hands of incompetent judges, impulsive referees who take away points and fewer rounds per fight, more are beginning to wonder if borrowing boxing's scoring system was really the best idea.

In recent days and weeks, UFC analyst and former UFC fighter Kenny Florian as well as UFC commentator Joe Rogan have both attacked the system for perceived inadequecies.

On Monday's 'The MMA Hour' with Ariel Helwani, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner believed the concerns of the system were valid, but generally speaking, felt it was perfectly suitable for use in the sport.

"I think it does work," Ratner said. "The problem with that system, whether it be boxing or MMA, is that not all 10-9 rounds are equal. Certainly in a three-round fight, that can skew who wins, but for the most part, most of the decisions are good."

"Every once in a while, you're going to get one that certainly goes against public opinion," Ratner continued. "But MMA is harder to judge than boxing, in my opinion, because you have to know what's going on on the ground.

"When I first started over [at UFC], I thought the guy underneath could never win a round and I've certainly changed my opinion on that because there's a lot of guys who can do a lot from the bottom."

Ratner, the former Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, was quick to note the ten-point must system wasn't without it's drawbacks, but believes in three central ideas.

First, officials are getting better at understanding how to interpret offense, defense and what a winning round looks like, although that's still a work in progress. Two, when judges do their jobs correctly, the existing system works just fine. And three, not only is changing the existing system going to be difficult, but in his mind, there's no clear alternative that would work better.

"It's an evolving discipline and I think we just have to keep on educating and that's part of my goals," Ratner remarked. "No, I don't think [the ten-point must system] would be that easy to change. I'm not for the half-point system. I can understand it, but I think if the judges really concentrate and do their job, the ten-point must system can work."

That wasn't all Ratner discussed during his nearly thirty-minute interview on Monday. Here are some highlights of the myriad topics he discussed as it relates to the regulation and safety of the sport:

On whether Rousimar Palhares should've been cut:

"Absolutely because of his history. If this was his first offense, I would say, 'Well, he didn't deserve the bonus.' But since he's done this before and I've heard other stories, I think you have to do what's right and Dana was completely correct in releasing him."

On the developing Brazilian athletic commission (Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA):

"They thought they had to do something [with Palhares]. That means he is free to sign with someone else. That would be up to him, but he still cannot fight anywhere in the world for the next four months.

"I think they're getting better and better. They're developing more Brazilian officials. I think they're doing fine. They understand the importance of it. I'm happy to say they're progressing very well."

On the comments made about the NSAC by 'Big' John McCarthy:

"I do believe he's one of the top referees in the world and I think you are seeing him more and more. If I were him, I'd never knock another state commission because the states do band together and they hear that an official is saying something bad about one of their brothers. And I've discussed that with him. I don't think that's the right way to handle it...I think that if he wants to have a complaint, he should do it more internally than externally and not put it out there for the world.

"I would say that, yes, he's one of the top officials and I expect him to be [in Nevada] one day. I don't know when that'll be, but I certainly never talk about his officiating. He's very, very good."

On the judging in Pacquiao vs. Bradley, Mayweather vs. Canelo bouts in Nevada:

"What I would want [the NSAC] to do is deepen the pool of officials they use and use a few more out of state officials. I was at both the [Manny] Pacquiao fight and the last one with Floyd [Mayweather]. I certainly thought Floyd won the last fight, I thought pretty simply. I had it 10 to 2, so I disagree with a 6-6 score. The Pacquiao fight I thought was 9 to 3, but I was sitting in the stands, ten rows up right in the middle of the ring and watching pretty intently, but it's not like being right on the ring."

On the process of and dangers of weight cutting:

We bring everybody in on Monday and Tuesday for a Saturday night fight....But if you sign a fight 75-days out, there's no reason to come on fight week - and we weigh everyone on Tuesday - to have 20 pounds above. Now, they know how to cut, but i think it's really wrong.

I think we have to change the culture. That's a big part of it. And what happened in Brazil, the guy was taking weight cutting, some kind of a drug that was good for weight cutting and had to lose too much weight in too short a time and his body shut down. It's very, very wrong and it's sad. I think it can be fixed.

On the punishment handed out to Ben Rothwell after UFC 164:

"Because he had gotten the exemption, but hadn't followed instruction. The day of the fight when they tested him, his levels were elevated and that's wrong. We feel very strongly about that. And I tried to make it like, if this was the state of the Nevada, this is what we would've done, what they would've done.

"For Ben, he got lucky in that it wasn't in a regulated environment like Nevada and got to keep the win. Here he would've been fine, lost the win and still been fined nine months."

On the status of new UFC gloves being developed:

"Century is making a glove that's a little more rounded, so it'd be a little harder to stick your finger out and poke somebody in the eye, but it's not a perfect solution yet. I think it'll be a little bit better, but the fighters really need to keep their hands closed. If they're grappling, that's one thing. I don't think you'll ever eliminate eye pokes."