Henry Cejudo Calls For Open Scoring After Controversial Kai Kara-France Decision; ‘It’s Becoming a Circus’

Henry Cejudo wants to see multiple changes put in place to help quell the epidemic of inept combat sports judging.

Henry Cejudo
Courtesy of Henry Cejudo on YouTube

Henry Cejudo believes open scoring could be the way to resolve the epidemic of inept judging that dominates the world of professional boxing and mixed martial arts.

Controversial scorecards are once again dominating headlines after Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas produced yet another confusing result. In the main event of the evening, top-ten bantamweights Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi squared off in a high-stakes matchup with major title implications on the line. After 25 minutes of action, Kara-France appeared to be on his way to a victory having outstruck his opponent by a significant margin while scoring two of two takedowns versus his opponent’s one takedown on nine attempts. 

Despite landing 56 more significant strikes and out-landing his opponent in all five rounds, Kara-France was on the losing end as two judges, Chris Lee and Sal D’Amato, scored the bout in favor of Albazi 48-47. 

“Let’s talk about judging. That’s right. I’m talking about all you bald-headed fat people who have never fought before who are actually judging fights. Guys, I’m not here just to talk about my fight. I’m here to talk about Vasiliy Lomachenko. I’m here to talk about Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel

“All these fights happened in the last three weeks. Robbery upon robbery. Close fights, people giving a fifth round to somebody who I don’t know how it is he actually won it,” Cejudo said, referencing his own loss to Aljamain Sterling. “Where are we going to hold these judges accountable? What are they watching? Could there be a curriculum where a lot of these judges could actually fight or do we make the actual referee into a judge and we make it even because he’s the closest person in there? Or should we have an open scorecard?”

Thus far, only two state athletic commissions have adopted open scoring; Kansas and Colorado. Women’s MMA organization Invicta FC was the first to test it out on a sizeable scale, using the open scoring format for a series of events starting in 2020. While the system did not eliminate frustrations in regard to how judges score fights, it allowed fighters to know where they stood in a fight. This would at least give them an opportunity to adjust, stay the course, or go for broke in any given round. 

“I actually like that. I actually do believe that the UFC should actually change it into an [open] scorecard,” Cejudo continued. “We said, ‘Hey man, you lost. That was blue corners or that was red corners round.’ Where people actually know where is it and when is it that you have to put the pedal to the metal. It’s to the point where it’s getting confusing and the last thing we want to do is turn the sport of mixed martial arts into boxing where there’s complete robbery. Where you know that you can knock the guy down 10 out of the 12 rounds and still lose.” 

Henry Cejudo Suggests Judges Be Required to Have Experience Competing in Combat Sports

Henry Cejudo also believes that in order to become a combat sports judge, you should have, at the very least, amateur experience in a combat sport. 

“Where is it that these people are going to be held accountable? Should there be a curriculum for these judges to be able to say, ‘Hey man, you at least to be a judge have to have a background and have to have amateur experience in boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, or mixed martial arts, but you need one of those traits in order for you to actually do it because I don’t feel like at times people really count the actual takedown. 

“I don’t think at the time people really count the leg kicks or even to the body. This is becoming a problem and we have to do our best to let the best man win because if not guys, it’s becoming a sh*t show. It’s becoming a circus.” 

While former fighters taking a role in judging and officiating is becoming more prominent, there are still far too few in the sport. Most notable are former competitors Frank Trigg, who become an MMA referee, and TUF alumnus Chris Leben who now works as an MMA judge. Both ex-competitors have been seen working Bellator events on more than one occasion.

Unfortunately, limiting who can be licensed to those with actual experience competing would likely reduce the number of available judges tenfold which would inevitably cause athletic commissions to once again rely on the individuals who should not be coming within 50 feet of a judge’s table. 

Published on June 6, 2023 at 1:31 pm
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