UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway live judging and scoring

UFC 212 goes down in Rio tonight and the odds of the main event of Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway going to a decision…

By: Paul Gift | 6 years ago
UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway live judging and scoring
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

UFC 212 goes down in Rio tonight and the odds of the main event of Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway going to a decision currently sit around 60%. It’s the perfect time to test a new idea here at Bloody Elbow, having a certified and licensed judge talk through his scoring of each round in real time.

I got certified in August of last year and have since worked local shows in Los Angeles for the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO). I’m still learning and growing from every event and will surely make mistakes here, but I understand how MMA rounds are supposed to be scored and will try to share my thoughts on those elements during the breaks between each round.

I’ll be watching UFC 212 with the volume on mute so, with apologies to Jon Anik, Brian Stann, and Dominick Cruz, I won’t hear when “that hurt him,” there’s a “nice knee,” or when someone is “off to a good start here.” The “oooohs” and “aaaahs” from the crowd will be total silence. I’ll have to make all determinations myself like a regular judge.

Rounds are scored in MMA based on damage. If control enters your mind, get it out immediately. And a takedown just changes the position of the fight unless it causes or leads to damage.

Readers should consider a single criterion for scoring: Effective Striking/Grappling. While effective aggressiveness and fighting area control can possibly be scoring criteria as well, their use is so rare that forgetting about them will instantaneously improve readers’ judging games by leaps and bounds.

Effective Striking/Grappling:

Legal blows that have immediate or cumulative damage with the potential to contribute towards the end of the match with the IMMEDIATE weighing more heavily than the cumulative damage.

Successful execution of takedowns, submission attempts, reversals and the achievement of advantageous positions that produce immediate or cumulative damage with the potential to contribute to the end of the match, with the IMMEDIATE weighing more heavily than the cumulative damage.

It shall be noted that a successful takedown is not merely a changing of position, but the establishment of an attack from the use of the takedown.

Top and bottom position fighters are assessed more on the impactful/damaging result of their actions, more so than their position.

Since I’m not a regulator worried about getting sued in the future, the politically correct word “impact” in the definition above has been replaced with “damage” – the word originally intended by the authors of the new scoring criteria.

The 2017 judging criteria will be used for 10-8 scores. The 3 D’s of Dominance, Damage, and Duration only apply to 10-8 considerations and the scoring of 10-9s, 10-10s, and 10-7s didn’t change. For all scores that aren’t 10-8, the new judging criteria clarified the language of what was already being taught in training.

With that, let’s press mute and get down to business…in silence…complete and total silence. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Please forgive any typos in real time.


Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway

Round 1: 10-9 Aldo. Pretty big difference in the effect of their strikes. Aldo had a 4-landed strike sequence that almost made Holloway’s eyes bug out.

Round 2: 10-9 Holloway. Opened up more, countered well. His “Let’s brawl” move might not help for scoring later.

Round 3: Yo! Holloway figured Aldo out the entire round. Dominance, Damage, Duration. No score needed as Holloway shut it down.

Result: Holloway wins by TKO at 4:13 of round 3.

Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Round 1: Gadelha had a hard elbow off the Thai clinch, eventually got Kowalkiewicz to the ground and quickly sunk in the choke.

Result: Gadelha wins by rear naked choke at 3:03 of round 1.

Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

Round 1: 10-9 Marquardt. Most of Belfort’s few strikes seemed to be at least partially blocked. Marquardt’s kicking game was somewhat working in a low effective action round. Marquardt got virtually no credit from being on top.

Round 2: 10-9 Belfort. Not an easy round. Marquardt had a nice head kick. Belfort probably had the most effective sequence in the round. Marquardt almost came back in the end, and I’m open to him taking it.

Round 3: 10-9 Belfort. I got a little distracted by my dogs in this round but it looked like Belfort for damage.

My score: 29-28 Belfort

Result: Belfort wins by unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)

Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

Round 1: 10-9 Borrachinha. The story of two halves. All Bamgbose in the first, Borrachinha in the second, except Borrachinha’s damage was greater. Dropped bombs against the cage, nice knee to the chest, elbow to the head. Bamgbose’s cage pressing at the end was nothing.

Round 2: Damn. Bamgbose body kicked himself into oblivion when he fell to the ground and got pounded out.

Result: Borrachinha wins by TKO at 1:06 of round 2.

Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva

Round 1: 10-9 Medeiros. This round could hinge on how you judge the Medeiros flurry that had Silva inactive for 20-30 seconds after. The Silva knee looked like it missed to me.

Round 2: And Medeiros makes it all irrelevant with a crushing 1, 2, 3 combo to take out Silva.

Result: Medeiros wins by TKO at 2:01 of round 2.


Marlon Moraes vs. Raphael Assuncao

Round 1: 10-9 Assuncao. It was Moraes’ round until the last 15 seconds or so. Fights are scored on damage and Assuncao slightly wobbled Moraes and had another solid shot to steal the round.

Round 2: 10-9 Moraes. Good action but not as much effective action. Assuncao started stronger early but Moraes came back with clean initial strikes and counters.

Round 3: 10-9 Moraes. Assuncao might’ve had the best strike of the round, but Moraes outworked him with solid kicks to the legs and body, nice jabs.

My score: 29-28 Moraes

Result: Assuncao wins by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely

Round 1: 10-9 Carlos. Well that was an interesting 50-50 round. While no sub attempts were locked in, I’m giving more credit to Carlos’ 3-4 hard elbows from guard and some damage from the back at the end.

Round 2: Clear Carlos round from top and back control with short shots and a few RNC attempts finally ends with Spicely tapping out.

Result: Carlos wins by rear naked choke at 3:49 of round 2.

Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez

Round 1: Wow, Eduardo started off nicely with solid leg kicks and a few punches. Lopez landed a shot that slightly stumbled Eduardo, got it to the ground and utterly punished him. Eduardo’s heel hook attempt wouldn’t have earned much credit anyway.

Result: Lopez wins by TKO at 2:57 of round 1.

Iuri Alcantara vs. Brian Kelleher

Round 1: Alcantara was taking the round until Kelleher’s guillotine said, “Screw you, judges!”

Result: Kelleher wins by guillotine choke at 1:48 of round 1.


Viviane Pereira vs. Jamie Moyle

Round 1: Not the easiest round to score. Moyle had the volume but Pereira’s strikes seemed more impactful and damaging which is what we’re meant to score. 10-9 Pereira.

Round 2: 10-9 Pereira. She turned it on this round and won it handily. The knockdown holding the leg was more of a trip, but the cross was solid.

Round 3: 10-9 Pereira. Nice volume. Landed cleaner. Solid counters. Her 2,3 combo in the 3-4 minute mark was possibly her most damaging shot of the night.

My score: 30-27 Pereira.

Result: Pereira wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Luan Chagas vs.Jim Wallhead

Round 1: 10-9 Chagas easy. Nice leg kicks, cleaner more damaging strikes throughout.

Round 2: Breaks for fouls always make judging interesting. We’re supposed to write down our thoughts on where the round was at when it stopped, but I’m typing this instead.

Nice round and nice fight for Chagas. Wallhead’s strikes seemed to come up mostly short or graze while eating clean ones, twos, threes, kicks, etc. all night.

Result: Chagas wins by rear naked choke at 4:48 of round 2.

Marco Beltran vs. Deiveson Alcantara

Round 1: 10-9 Alcantra. Beltran didn’t quite have enough ground and pound at the end. Alcantra had a nice body kick, a few clean shots from top, and Beltran flipped from the guillotine attempt. Man, it’s hard to make good explanations within 1 minute and be ready for the next round. This should be fun.

Result: Alcantara wins by TKO at 5:00 of round 2.

Paul is Bloody Elbow’s analytics and business writer and is a licensed MMA judge for the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO). Follow him @MMAanalytics.

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About the author
Paul Gift
Paul Gift

Dr. Paul Gift is a sports economist with a research focus on mixed martial arts. A licensed MMA referee and judge himself, Dr. Gift’s interests pertain to many facets of the MMA industry including behavioral biases and judging, the role of financial and environmental factors on fighter performance, determination of fighter marginal products, and predictive analytics.

A regular MMA business contributor for Forbes, Dr. Gift also writes about MMA analytics and officiating in popular press for SB Nation and co-hosts the MMA business podcast Show Money. His sports research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, ESPN’s Grantland, and popular media including Around the Horn, Olbermann, and various MMA and boxing podcasts.

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