How is UFC scored? Full Guide

How is UFC scored? Full Guide

Welcome to the thrilling world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where fighters showcase their skills and tenacity inside the octagon.

As a fan or someone new to the sport, understanding how UFC matches are scored is essential to fully appreciate the intensity and strategy displayed by the athletes.

In this blog post, we will explore the intricacies of UFC scoring, shedding light on the criteria, the 10-point must system, judges' decisions, controversies, and proposed improvements.


Rounds and Duration

In the UFC, fights are divided into rounds, with each round having a specified duration. Depending on the type of fight, the number of rounds can vary. Title fights and main events typically consist of five rounds, while non-title fights often have three rounds. Understanding the round structure sets the stage for comprehending the scoring system.


Scoring Criteria

To determine the winner of a UFC fight, judges evaluate several key scoring criteria:

  1. Effective striking: This involves delivering impactful punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. Strikes that land cleanly and cause visible damage to opponents carry significant weight in the scoring process.

  2. Effective grappling: Grappling encompasses takedowns, submission attempts, and ground control. Successful takedowns, dominant positions, and submission threats demonstrate effective grappling skills.

  3. Octagon control: Octagon control refers to a fighter's ability to dictate the pace, location, and positioning of the fight. Maintaining the center of the octagon, controlling the distance, and effectively evading or countering attacks contribute to scoring points.

  4. Defense and damage: While offensive prowess is crucial, defense is equally important. Effective defensive techniques, such as avoiding strikes, blocking, and slipping punches, can influence scoring. Moreover, judges assess the damage inflicted on each fighter throughout the match.

    The 10-Point Must System

    The UFC employs the 10-point must system, the most common scoring system in combat sports. Under this system:

    • A round is typically scored 10-9, with the winner receiving ten points and the opponent receiving nine or fewer points.
    • In rare cases of a closely contested round, a round can be scored as 10-10, indicating an even round with no clear winner.
    • If a fighter dominates a round, demonstrating absolute superiority, they may receive a score of 10-8. In extreme cases of total dominance or a knockdown, judges may award a 10-7 score.

      Judges' Decision

      Trusted judges play a critical role in scoring UFC matches. They evaluate each round based on the scoring criteria and submit their decisions after each round. The final judges' decision can be one of three types:

      1. Unanimous decision: All three judges agree on the outcome, declaring a clear winner.
      2. Split decision: Two judges favor one fighter, while the third judge scores in favor of the opponent.
      3. Majority decision: Two judges score in favor of one fighter, and the third judge scores the round as a draw.

      Scoring Controversies and Criticisms

      Despite the best efforts of judges, UFC scoring has faced controversies and criticisms over the years. Some matches have been marred by questionable decisions that sparked debates among fans and experts. Concerns regarding subjectivity, potential biases, and the need for consistent application of the scoring criteria have prompted calls for improvements.


      Proposed Changes and Alternatives

      To address the scoring controversies, various changes and alternatives have been proposed. Ideas such as open scoring, where the judges' scores are made public after each round, and incorporating technology to assist judges in real-time scoring analysis have gained attention. These potential modifications aim to increase transparency, minimize errors, and enhance fairness in scoring.

      As the UFC continues to evolve, so too will the scoring methods, further enhancing the excitement and accuracy of this dynamic combat sport.

      Back to blog