Holloway gets behind open-scoring at Invicta FC

Kansas will host what could be a historically significant MMA event Friday night, and Max Holloway wants to have a front-row seat for it.

Holloway, the former UFC featherweight champion, will fly from his native Hawaii all the way to Kansas City, Kansas, so he can be in attendance for the Invicta FC show at Memorial Hall. The event is significant because it’ll be the first time in modern MMA that open scoring, or real-time scoring, will be used.

The judges’ scores will be made public after each round at Invicta FC: Phoenix Series 3. Currently, under the Unified Rules of MMA, the scores are read only at the conclusion of the fight. The Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC), beginning this month, will allow promotions to implement real-time scoring for events in the state. The Invicta show will be the first of its kind under the new, optional rules.

Holloway wanted to be at the card in person to show direct support for an attempt at progress in MMA rules, he told ESPN in a statement provided Tuesday night.

“I’ve been in the UFC for eight years,” Holloway said in the statement. “I’ve won five title fights in the UFC, and I’ve never met a fighter or even a judge who thinks the scoring system in MMA is perfect. So what are we going to do? We at that point. If all of us agree it’s not perfect, what we going to do? What are we doing? What are we doing now? Are we just gonna keep tweeting? What are we doing? Why are we still talking if we all agree? The first step is to test ideas. And that’s what I’m here for.”

How will it work? Kansas boxing commissioner Adam Roorbach said two people will collect the judges’ scores after every round. Roorbach will then input the scores into a computer. There will be two people on either side of Memorial Hall — in the direct line of sight of the fighters’ corners — with tablets that will show those scores. Invicta will also put the scores on the big screen at the beginning of each round.

The idea is that the fighters won’t easily be able to see the scores themselves, but their coaches can tell them if they so desire. Roorbach said the plan is to avoid being invasive in any way to the fighters. He expects that the entire process will take about 40 seconds or less each round. Fighters get one minute in the corner between rounds.

“We don’t want to take away from the fighter getting their recovery time,” Roorbach said. “We don’t want to take away from the cutman or coach working on the fighter.”

The commission, the fighters and the fighters’ corners will do a walkthrough Friday after the weigh-ins, so each party knows how the new process will go. The scores will not be announced over the PA system. And for the first time in Kansas, Invicta will provide judges with monitors at their cageside positions to provide more viewing options.

Roorbach has championed the idea of trying real-time scoring, because MMA is one of the few sports where the athletes and fans don’t know who is winning or what the score is until the end of the competition. Open scoring has existed in WBC boxing (after the fourth and eighth rounds) and Glory kickboxing in jurisdictions that allow it.

Holloway said he doesn’t know if this will work, but he applauds Kansas for trying something different.

“Open scoring has been tested in boxing,” Holloway said. “Cool. MMA isn’t boxing, my friends. We don’t know for sure how it will work in MMA. And if it creates more problems than it fixes, that’s good, because at least we finally have proof and can move on to the next idea.

“But maybe it works. Or maybe it creates new problems. But we can fix those with new scoring and rules. I don’t know, but nobody does. And that’s why we have to put down the bag of Cheetos now and do the work. I’m here for it.”