No, Rose Namajunas, MMA fighters do not get ‘credit for good defense’

Rose Namajunas lost her UFC strawweight title to Carla Esparza in the co-main event of UFC 274
Rose Namajunas lost her UFC strawweight title to Carla Esparza in the co-main event of UFC 274 | Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Rose Namajunas comments after UFC 274 show even champions don’t understand MMA scoring…which isn’t that difficult

“I don’t get no credit for good defense?”

That was the question a seemingly exasperated Rose Namajunas asked in the aftermath of her split-decision loss to Carla Esparza at UFC 274. The short answer to Namajunas’ inquiry is no.

According to the scoring criteria in mixed martial arts, “MMA is an offensive based sport. No scoring is given for defensive maneuvers. Using smart, tactically sound defensive maneuvers allows the fighter to stay in the fight and to be competitive.”

Breaking that down to its simplest form, defense is a reward in and of itself. Sound defense allows a fighter to stay in the fight and score via offense. So, no, no fighter gets credit, at least not from the judges, for good defense.

As far as Namajunas’ claims that the judges didn’t reward her for the technical approach she employed during the 25-minute fight, the now former champion was also off the mark on that talking point.

“I think maybe the judges just wanted to see a slugfest like it was in previous fights or something, so they weren’t appreciative of good strategy…” Namajunas said during the post-fight press conference.

Again, nowhere in the scoring criteria are the judges tasked with scoring something as vague and nebulous as “strategy.” That word is never mentioned in the scoring criteria. Nor should it be because, how does one score strategy or game planning in a sport that is defined as “an offensive based sport”?

The first scoring criteria in MMA is “effective striking/grappling” and that is defined as follows:

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

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

Almost every MMA fight, if viewed correctly, will be scored with the first criteria of “effective striking/grappling.” It’s incredibly rare to find a fight where “effective striking/grappling is 100% equal for the round” and the next scoring criteria need to be employed.

The MMA scoring criteria is not especially complicated. The rules are spelled out — and prioritized — clearly in the document that defines the scoring. That so many fighters, fight promotion employees, media members, fans and commenters, refuse to learn those rules is no excuse. I hate to invoke a saying as hackneyed as this one, but I guess the phrase is overworked for a reason, but honestly, ignorance is no excuse.

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Author: Trent Reinsmith
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