Report: Kansas to allow live, open scoring for MMA fights

Jason Owens
·3 min read
Would real-time scoring have influenced strategy during UFC 247's hotly contested light heavyweight championship? (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Would real-time scoring have influenced strategy during UFC 247's hotly contested light heavyweight championship? (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

The Kansas Athletic Commission has cleared the way for a dramatic new scoring method for mixed martial arts events.

Starting March 1, promoters will have the option to allow live, open scoring for MMA events in the state, according to an ESPN report.

Put simply, judge’s scorecards will be made public after each round for viewers at the arena and watching home to see, much like a running score is kept in many other sports.

Fighters will know the score, too

Fight participants will also be made aware of the score, a shift that has the potential to influence strategies mid-fight. If a fighter knows he has a lead heading into the final round, it could prompt a more defensive stance. On the flipside, a fighter who knows he’s trailing would be motivated to take a more aggressive tack.

Kansas boxing commissioner Adam Roorbach explained the reasoning behind the decision to ESPN.

“I come from outside of the combat sports world,” Roorbach said. “But I've been a sports fan my whole life. It always mystifies me why the fighters and fans don't know what the score is until the end. No one has ever given me a good explanation as to why.”

Invicta FC will take 1st crack at open scoring system

Sanctioned MMA events aren’t commonplace in Kansas. But Invicta FC is hosting an event on March 6 in Kansas City, Kansas, that will be available on UFC Fight Pass. The all-woman promotion will take advantage of the new scoring method as a chance to shine a spotlight on its corner of the sport.

"If we can help in some way to push the sport forward in a positive direction — that's what we're about — we'll try," Invicta promoter Shannon Knapp told ESPN.

News arrives after UFC 247 scoring controversy

The timing of the announcement arrives on the heels of the heavily discussed scoring from Saturday’s light heavyweight championship match at UFC 247. Jon Jones retained his belt in a tightly contested decision over challenger Dominick Reyes.

Judges ruled that Jones won 48-47, 48-47, 49-46, with judge Joe Solis receiving heavy criticism for the 49-46 score among some others on Saturday’s card.

UFC boss Dana White was among those who thought Reyes was the rightful winner, but nobody reasonably argued that the fight was a definitive victory for either fighter.

“The scoring was all over the map,” White told reporters after the fight. … “Going into the last round, I had Dominick Reyes 3-1 going to the last round. My kids are terrorizing me that the fix is in, ‘How could this happen, Dad?, Reyes won that fight,’ and the list goes on and on of people who are reaching out to me.

“So it’s not like there’s this landslide of people saying it was a robbery or whatever. People have it all over the place.”

Jones definitively won rounds four and five while most agreed that Reyes won the first two rounds. The third round was the most tightly contested of the fight, with experts arguing it could have gone for either fighter.

How would Kansas’ scoring impact fights?

It’s a prime example of the fighters going into a fifth and decisive round not knowing exactly where they stood. Would live scoring have changed either fighter’s approach Saturday in that decisive round? It’s hard to say.

But the state of Kansas is willing to find out moving forward while taking a chance on an ability host an event like no other state allows.

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