The only times I’m really, truly pissed about a decision is if the guy that wins the last round ends up losing the fight. I think the simple, primal notion that how you finish is more important than how you start explains a good amount of the angst surrounding the Machida/Rua decision. It’s just flat out uncompetitive that a fighter can reasonably win two rounds, pull a Tito (Tito [noun]: A situation analogous or identical to getting outstruck 41-5 in the final round) and still win the decision. I’ve long defended the ten point must system, arguing that it was the best possible option. You know, ‘finish the fight if you’re worried about it’ and all that.
But after reading Ryan’s breakdown, I had an epiphany. I think it falls in between the current system (too rigid) and PRIDE’s system of ‘write down who you think won at the end’ (too loose and rife for corruption):
Why not just judge the last round?
‘If, after the allotted time limit, no winner has been determined, the judges shall render their judgment as to which combatant was superior in the final round. Judges shall have the option to declare ‘no one’ if he/she feels the round was a draw. A simple two-thirds majority will decide the victor – a vote of 1-1-1 (fighter A, fighter B and ‘no one’) or two ‘no one’ votes would result in a draw. In the event that a fighter is rendered unable to continue because of illegal strikes, the fight will be ruled a ‘no contest’ or ‘disqualification’ depending on the severity, intention and situation surrounding the strikes in question.’
Have a lawyer fine-tune that statement and tell me what’s wrong with it. Who cares who won the first two rounds of a fight? Nobody got finished, and if you won them that decisively, then the third/fifth round should be a piece of cake. It provides further incentives to finish the fight (to remove the final stanza as the deciding factor of the fight) and forces fighters to refrain from sitting on (imagined or real) leads on the score cards and come out firing at the end. It puts cardio at an even higher premium than it is now. It makes the entire third round interesting, as opposed to just seeing if a fighter can hit a Hail Mary punch or submission to safe him/herself from the inevitable doom of two previously (and thus insignificantly) lost rounds. It makes finishing strong more important than anything else.
Fights shouldn’t be about accumulating points. They should be about winning. If nobody wins, then it should be about finishing strong, not an overall body of work. If anyone can name a fight where someone won the shit out of the final round and didn’t deserve to win the fight, I’m all ears. I’m ready and willing to be moved from this position, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
Judge the final round. That’s it.