UFC star lobbies for a rule that would move MMA judging criteria further away from BJJ

The UFC has faced a lot of criticism regarding judging in recent times, particularly during UFC 280 and the match between Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley.

Despite not having the upper hand in striking stats, Yan was controlling O’Malley for most of the time. However, to the surprise of many watching, the judges awarded the decision win to O’Malley.

A similar scenario occurred during UFC 284, a five-round bout between Islam Makhachev and Alex Volkanovski. Although Volkanovski performed better in striking exchanges, he lost on the judges scorecards because he spent a considerable amount of time stuck in back control.

MMA Unified rules judging criteria
How MMA is actually scored/judged. 10 point Must system criterion breakdown.

Volkanovski’s BJJ coach addressed the back control issue saying:

“That fight was so close. I think he gave round one easily to Islam, round four. Obviously, he held the back the entire time, you have to give it to Islam, round three and five, you have to give to Volkanovski. And Round Two was super, super close.”

But another UFC ace is proposing a radical rule change that would distance mixed martial arts further from the BJJ meta – a change in how back control is judged.

Russian-Azerbaijani star, Rafael Fiziev, told Submission Radio:

“I think they have to change some rules in the UFC, because if you take a position on the backside if you take his back, and like just staying, just control because you want control, not attacking, not make damage, not nothing. That’s bulls**t, man. They have to change that.”

“You can’t just stay on the back like this (scared) just control cause you want control. You know, you don’t wanna like, ‘ahhh’, and like this crazy. Like, that’s it. They have to change these rules.”

Fiziev is clearly addressing the fourth round of UFC 284, during which Volkanovski was stuck on Makhachev’s back in a body triangle for longer than 2 minutes.

“Cannot do, cannot give the win round just because of you staying take a back like this. If he make damage, if he pass, like Khabib.

“When he takes a position, he makes a lot of damage, he doesn’t stop punching him, smashing his face. But if you are just taking a stay with this, I don’t understand.”

While Volkanovski was successful in hand-fighting, there was no damage taken during this time. Not to mention that Volkanovski was spamming strikes from the front and annoying Makhachev a good deal. Due to the position none of these strikes counted as significant and skewered the stats further in Makhachev’s favor.

This is an interesting note from an insider and something that’s been clearly causing discrepancies in perception. It’s also interesting to see how the same criteria was judged differently on two occasions that have just a couple of months in between.

What do you think? Should back control be graded differently if there’s no damage or actual significant submission attempts?