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MMA Scoring Guide

Note by SFUK : These are drawn up just as a rough guide or talking point by Grant, who is, incidentally, one of the best MMA refs in the business.

By Grant Waterman, October 2003

The most commonly used scoring system used for MMA competition is the 10 Point Must system. Each round of a contest is scored individually and if no submission or KO occurs, these are totalled up and a decision announced.

The winner of a round will be awarded 10 points, and the loser 9 points or less.

Criteria that the judges will be assessing, in order of priority, are as follows: -

  1. Effective Aggressiveness.

    This is determined as the fighter showing most effort to win. It is of no use to simply be aggressive. The fighter’s effort must be effective effort.

  1. Effective Technique.
  2. This area includes Striking, Clinch Work, Takedowns, Submission attempts, Transitioning, and Positioning.

  3. Cage/ Ring Control. This is assessed by determining which fighter has used the fighting area to his / her advantage the most.
  4. Defence / Escapes.

This area includes avoiding and blocking of strikes, reversals from pins and mount, escapes from submissions i.e. transitioning to avoid a submission, etc. etc.

The above areas are to be used in order of priority, and each consecutive area is only considered if the preceding one has been determined to be equal for both fighters. If a fighter dominates area ‘a’ there is no need to assess area ‘b’, and so on.

Judges should be well versed in all areas of MMA competition and techniques, and should show no bias to just one area, i.e. striking over submissions.

A head judge will be appointed at each contest. This judge will not score the contest directly, however it is his responsibility to ensure that the scoring is kept consistent and of a high standard. The head judge may ask for any of the other three judges to be replaced if they are found to be incompetent.

Point deduction.

In the event of a foul, the referee may decide to deduct a point from the offending fighter.

At the conclusion of a contest the scorecards will be collected, the totals added, passed to the referee and a decision announced.


Unanimous Win — all scorecards in favour of one fighter.

Majority Win — majority of scorecards in favour of one fighter.

Draw — All score cards equal.

Majority Draw — Majority of scorecards equal.

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