09 Apr, 2020

Kayla Harrison isn't 100 percent on open scoring but considers it 'a step in the right direction'

Kayla Harrison isn’t a firm advocate of open scoring in MMA, but if the sport is attempting to improve and evolve by trying new things, count her in.

Speaking recently during a Dominance MMA media day in Las Vegas, the reigning PFL women’s lightweight champion said she’s happy to see the sport making moves to get better.

“I’m not saying I support (open scoring). I’m saying we need to try new things,” Harrison told MMA Junkie. “Obviously the system that we have right now is a little bit broken. There are all kinds of fights where people don’t know what’s going on. There are people who shouldn’t really be winning. There’s all kinds of stuff going on where the sport needs a little more consistency, and I think it needs a little more transparency. And that comes from the top down.

“I’m not just talking about judging. I think the sport needs to make a lot of changes. I don’t know exactly how I feel about the open scoring, but I think that testing the waters and trying it out is a step in the right direction. The only way you can start to make improvements is by taking chances, making changes, trying stuff out, and I support that. We gotta try.”

Harrison (7-0) thinks there’s an argument for scoring not being 100 percent open, with fans able to see the judges’ scores, but not the competing fighters themselves.

“The fans? Yeah, I think the fans should know what’s going on for sure,” Harrison said. “Maybe you don’t tell the fighters. OK, I can understand that, you not telling the fighters what’s going on. But I totally think it should be transparent what the judges are scoring each round, for the fans 100 percent. That makes perfect sense.”

One of the criticisms of open scoring is the notion that fighters who know they are ahead will coast to victory in the later rounds, rather than going full throttle, to guarantee the win and that it would provoke negative fan reaction. Harrison offered an alternative take, however.

“That’s part of sport, right? People always find ways to manipulate the rule set, right? You see that now,” Harrison said. “If someone wins four rounds in a title fight, you see a lot of people pull off the gas in the fifth round and spend more time on their footwork. But that’s strategy, that comes with every sport. This isn’t gladiators, as much as everyone would like to see everyone run out and try to smash each others’ faces in. This is a sport, a high-level sport that is getting more and more difficult by the day. People are becoming more and more technical, and more and more well rounded. When you get in there, it’s a fight. And, yes, you do still have the opportunity to get your face smashed in. But the more you hit and don’t get hit, the more you play the game, the more likely you are to be successful, and at the end of the day, that’s what a fighter wants. A fighter wants to win the fight.

“People being upset about people running and this and that. You know what I say? I say, ‘You know what? They just won four rounds. What the hell! You should be commending them. That’s a hell of a performance to go out to win four or even five rounds solid. That’s not a boring fight. That’s a one-sided clinic. Congratulations to them!’ That’s how fans should be perceiving it. Not, ‘Oh, they didn’t have a war!’ Obviously, I’m a fan too. I like to see wars, don’t get me wrong. But as a fighter, I like to see technical fights. I like to see that side of it.”

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