The reason I say this is a distortion is that the industry always prioritizes fighters who have the best-looking record on paper. At the same time, everyone who watches the sport wants to see exciting fights. But the way we measure fights relies mostly on wins or losses, with little attention to how those fights actually played out.
The way it stands, you can have a guy with a 20-0 record who won all of those fights by stalling and not taking any risks, while you can have another fighter that’s 10-10 who consistently put on amazing fights, took risks, let it all hang out and made the crowd chew on their nails. But at the end of the day, the guy who earned those 20 wins stalling will have more value. What we are doing, in reality, is statistically punishing the kind of fighter who’s willing to take risks, which in truth is the fighter that we really want to see.Related Veteran manager Alex Davis insists fighters must organize soon, but not for the reasons you might think
You know, I can’t help but think back to when MMA was booming in Japan. We would see guys lose on these shows but continue to be invited back simply because they fought their hearts out. The Japanese fans understood and appreciated the effort, regardless of the result.
Fast forward to the present day, and there are thousands of fighters out there chasing a dream, and hundreds of promotions holding events. All of these men and women are fighting hard for their place in the spotlight, but we are stuck evaluating them with a simple win-loss system.
To help change this, I would like to propose a simple grading system for fights.
There’s no need for it to be complicated. I would suggest a simple arrangement with which fights are rated between 1 and 4. A grade 1 fight is an absolute sleeper. A grade 2 fight is an average fight. A grade 3 fight is a good fight, and a grade 4 fight is an amazing fight. It’s that simple, and collecting this would be a really easy thing to do: All that needs to happen is the judges not only score the fight and who won, but also grade the fight based on how interesting, exciting and technical that fight was.
If two judges say it was a grade 2 fight while one sees it as grade 1, well, majority wins. And if one judge says it was grade 1 fight, another says it was grade 2 fight, and the last judge says it was a grade 3 fight, then go with the average and call it a 2. This system would not mean a lot of additional work or time commitment in any sense by any of the different parties that score or record fights. It’s actually almost too simple and easy for any of the complete nincompoops out there to mess up!
Adopting this system will help to give value to fighters who consistently go out there and take risks. Sure, wins and losses still matter, but this will provide a way to identify fighters who know how to entertain the fans and will reward the kind of fighter that goes out there and puts on amazing fights. So-and-so is coming off three straight losses, but all three were grade 4 fights? Well of course the promotor will keep fighting him because this is exactly the type of fighter that people want to see.
I think tracking this information would be a simple and efficient way to correct that current distortion that to me is punishing bangers and rewarding stallers.
Alex Davis is a lifelong practitioner of martial arts and a former Brazilian judo champion. A founding member of American Top Team, Davis currently oversees the careers of a number of prominent Brazilian fighters, including Edson Barboza, Luiz Cane, Rousimar Palhares, Antonio Silva and Thiago Tavares, among others. Davis is a frequent contributor to MMAjunkie and shares his current views on the sport built through his perspectives that date back to the Brazilian roots of modern MMA.