I thought I was done ranting this morning but I’m not.
First, I wanted to talk about Compustrike’s recent involvement in scoring UFC fights. Kid Nate over at BloodyElbow.com has a post that highlights two different takes from Fight Linker and Pramit Mohapatra of MMAMadness.com and the Baltimore Sun.
I wanted to weigh in on the subject and raise the question of Compustrike’s place in MMA. It’s great for boxing but does it really have a place in MMA? Maybe it can add some perspective to certain aspects of the standup game but it’s missing a big piece of the puzzle: the ground game. Why are we going to try and assign points for punching and kicking prowess (wait, does Compustrike even take kicking into account?) and completely neglect Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling, which have established scoring systems of their own?
Why is there a push to provide precise information for punching but nothing to take into account all of the other facets of MMA? This is after all, MIXED martial arts.
People are screaming for better scoring and a more defined scoring system. The issue is you’re doing with a multitude of cultures in MMA. And when I say culture, I’m not speaking about nationalism. I’m referring to the culture of all the different combat sports.
I like the current system employed by my North American mixed martial arts promotions because it doesn’t award points for specific acts. When you start doing that, you start to place a greater importance over one art in comparison to another. Is a three punch combination worth more than a reversal on the ground from bottom position into mount? Is a clean double leg takedown worth more than a Thai-style knee to the ribs? What about clinch work and submission attempts?
With scoring methods such as Compustrike, we start heading down a dangerous path, which is paralysis by analysis. Judging is subjective in nature and there’s always going to be controversy. But my feeling is that the amount of bad decisions in MMA each year are small and that a change to a different scoring system could create more controversies than we have now.
What MMA really needs is a system where judges are held accountable and are evaluated. Everyone sees a fight a different way and a judge isn’t always going to make the right call. But if there’s a judge who is constantly coming up short then he should cease being a judge. The NFL grades its referees and assigns the best officials to work postseason games. I’d love to see an organized body come along in MMA and grade judges so only the best judges worked the biggest fights.
Now that I’ve weighed in on Compustrike and MMA scoring I wanted to weigh-in on Gina Carano’s weight.
Now I’ve been critical of Carano in the past because I feel that the face of women’s MMA should be the best female fighter in MMA. Carano is a devastating striker and quickly becoming more versatile. I think on a pound-for-pound scale, she’s without question top five MMA fighter in the world. However, as of now, number one belongs to Tara LaRosa.
But I’m not here to question Carano. I am actually coming to her defense in response to a lot of her critics (a Carano critic calling out Carano critics?) who obsess over the fact that she’s had some issues making weight in her last two fights.
Matt Cava and I delved into the topic a little bit on Inside the Cage Radio over the weekend but I wanted to expound on the topic here and stress how much more difficult it is for a female fighter to cut weight than it is for a male. Female weight cutting and male weight cutting are two totally different balls of wax. The average woman has significantly less water weight than the average man. The less water weight you have the less there is to sweat off.
Making matters more complicated for female fighters is the overall lack of fighters. Women are asked to cut to unrealistic weights just so matches can take place. Amateur female fighters have it the worse because it’s so much harder to find matchups on the amateur level. I went to an amateur Muay Thai card where one female fighter showed up to weigh-ins having worked her ass off to cut to 125 lbs. when her opponent showed up at 138 lbs. and claimed there was a mis-communication. Well, the fighter who cut to 125 lbs. and traveled up from Philly to New York and took time off from work and paid money for hotel and travel expenses (you usually need a hotel because the weigh-ins are almost always the day before). Because it was in NY, which isn’t regulated, she was given the option of either not fighting or taking the fight with the weight disadvantage. She took the fight and ended up winning because she had superior technique. But apparently what took place leading up to the fight isn’t all that uncommon.
So you have that pressure and Carano could be a victim of that pressure. EliteXC has her fighting at 140 lbs. because a lot of the best fighters are in the 135 lbs. – 140 lbs. range. There are a lot of females who fighter over 140 lbs. in Muay Thai, but nowhere near as much in MMA. Has anyone who is critical of Carano considered that maybe that 140 lbs. isn’t her best weight class and that asking her to make 140 lbs. might be the same as asking someone like Matt Hughes (I’m throwing out a random example) to make 155 lbs.?
I’ve read where some have called Carano irresponsible because she’s come in a 1/4 pound over in her past two fights. But how is she being irresponsible? Did she not show up to both her EliteXC fights in great shape? Did you see a region of her body where it was obvious she could have lost the weight? I sure didn’t. There’s a growing climate in MMA and Muay Thai (in the U.S.) where highly-conditioned female fighters are being asked to cut to weights their bodies simply aren’t meant to be at. We’re going to turn the female fighting industry into the modeling industry where females develop eating disorders and body dismorphia.
People also freaked out because Carano indicated she had her period during the time leading up to weigh-ins. She wasn’t being crude, she was being candid. It’s an issue female fighters have to deal with that male fighters obviously will never encounter. If we want to treat female MMA with the respect it deserves then we can’t giggle or cringe when a fighter brings that issue up. If you ask Travis Lutter why he didn’t make weight against Anderson Silva then whether you bought his answer or not, you at least wanted to hear his explanation. When Gina had a few minor issues, she gave her explanation. Women get periods. Deal with it. But if the industry keeps placing unrealistic weight demands on females then some of them will stop having periods because they’ll become unhealthy trying to use improper dieting techniques to make weights they have no business fighting at.
Dave Meltzer from the Wrestling Observer also made a good point in a recent print edition, which was that the amount of clothes Gina has worn for her last two weigh-ins more than accounted for the 1/4 pound she was over. For males who are over, they can put a towel up and they can strip down. But Meltzer points out that if a female strips down, then it becomes a spectacle.
So we have to ask ourselves, what do we want from female MMA? Sport or spectacle?