UFC President Dana White is fine with having to wait for the judges’ scores.
Over the past couple of years, there has been renewed interest in the introduction of open scoring to MMA, which would allow fighters and their teams to know what the scorecards look like between rounds and adjust their strategies accordingly. Invicta FC has gone as far as to introduce the concept on a few recent cards in Kansas City, Kan., with the corners having a choice of whether they want the information or not.
On the one hand, knowing the score could motivate a fighter to be more aggressive in the final round if they see that they’re down against or even with their opponent; on the other hand, a fighter up on the cards may decide to play it as safe as possible in the final round an deprive the fans of late drama.
Speaking to the UFC on ESPN’s Laura Sanko on an ESPN+ virtual Q&A on Tuesday, White expressed the latter viewpoint.
“If a guy knows that he’s up two rounds and you’re a professional fighter, you can absolutely stay away from a guy for an entire round and make the fight completely horrible,” White said (transcription via MMA Junkie). “If you already know you’ve got two rounds in the bag, guarantee if you saw your score up there, all (you) have to do is stay away from this guy for the next five minutes. That makes for a lot of bad third rounds.”
During White’s lengthy tenure with the UFC, he’s seen all kinds of close calls, epic final rounds, and absolute duds, and through it all the handling of scoring has always remained the same. He’s come to accept that the occasional controversy is the cost of doing business and actually sees the potential for chaos as a feature, not a bug.
“When we do the fights, I have an idea of who I think won or lost or whatever, but when I’m standing there with the belt, I don’t know what Bruce Buffer is going to say,” White said. “He doesn’t tell me anything. The judges tell him, the commission do their thing, they tell him, and I’m standing there waiting to hear too, so I’m just as blown away as the fans are. And I agree with you: It completely takes away the anticipation of who won the fight.”
Despite White’s oft-repeated saying of “Never leave it in the hands of the judges,” for now he is content to maintain the status quo. White is as vocal as anyone when it comes to voicing his displeasure over a verdict, but don’t expect him to lobby for open scoring anytime soon.
“Its never going to be perfect,” White said. “There are always going to be fights that absolutely drive you insane and piss you off, blow your bets, there will always be all these other things that go with the fight business. At the end of the day, watching the fight and waiting for the results are fun.”