MMA Open Scoring: Everything You Need to Know

Open scoring has been a widely discussed topic in MMA, next to fighter pay. In this page we will cover what it means, the argument for it and the argument against it.

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Table of Contents

What Does Open Scoring Mean in MMA?

Open scoring allows how the judges scored each round to go public, meaning that fans, commentators and fighters will be able to know how the fight is being scored. This allows fighters to adjust their strategy accordingly depending on whether they are winning or losing the fight.



Why Fans and Fighters Want Open Scoring

Having transparency in the sport throughout each round allows fans and fighters to know who is winning the fight via the judges' scorecard, and prevents fighters from being blindsided, thus losing half of their pay.

In the UFC, there is a win bonus intended to incentivize fighters to go for the win at all times. If a fighter loses, the fighter only receives half of their pay.

When the fight is finished via knockout, technical knockout or submission, this is not controversial.

However, when a fight is decided by the judges' scorecard and the judges get it wrong, it's highly controversial.

Open scoring won't fix the issue completely, but it will at least give fighters an opportunity to take more risks during a fight.

For example, if a fighter believes that they are winning the fight, but the judges' scorecard say otherwise and the fighter is down 2 rounds in a 3 round fight.. The fighter knows that they will have to take many more risks in the 3rd round to secure a finish in order to win the fight.

Without open scoring, they will never know for certain, and may continue doing what they're doing, and only find out that they lost they fight once the scorecards are actually read at the end.

Open Scoring in Other Sports

Open scoring currently already occurs in other sports such as K-1 Kickboxing and Boxing. In fact, the Colorado State Boxing Commission voted to adopt open scoring in Boxing and MMA in October of 2021.

This does not mean that MMA promotions are required to use it in the state of Colorado, but rather that promoters have the option to use it if they would like to.

Why Dana White Doesn't Want Open Scoring

Dana White has been an advocate against open scoring and his reasoning has been that it would cause the final round to be extremely boring.


He explains that if a fighter knows that they are winning the fight, they would 'coast' and just stay away from the other fighter for the last 5 minutes of the fight.

Additionally, he mentions that it would take away from Bruce Buffer (UFC Ring announcer) announcing the scorecards at the end of the fight. If open scoring was implemented, and everyone already knew who won the fight when it went the distance, it would take away from those few seconds of mystery.