Judging and scoring continue to be problems in the UFC.
Those issues returned to the limelight at UFC 247 when light heavyweight champion Jon Jones earned a controversial decision over Dominick Reyes - despite the majority of media members scoring the fight in favor of the challenger.
Some proposals to address the issues include using more than three judges, employing former MMA fighters as judges, and open scoring - which would allow fighters to see scorecards throughout the fight.
In this exclusive feature for theScore, UFC fighters share their thoughts on how to improve the current system.
The following responses have been edited for clarity.
Francis Ngannou - UFC heavyweight
"They should have a ... judging association with people that have a (well-rounded) knowledge about MMA, about the sport itself. Then they could set up some (standard) based on that for the judges to score the fight. Because lately I've been seeing those scores and I didn't understand (anything) about (them). Sometimes it was just insane, like unbelievable - (to) the point that you just think, 'this guy doesn't know something in the sport.' I feel like sometimes they just go pay somebody (from) the grocery store to come score the fight."
Colby Covington - UFC welterweight
"I think open scoring is a good idea. I think that could definitely improve it. And I think it would improve the quality of the UFC. Because if guys know they're down on the scorecards two rounds to one, they're going to throw haymakers, balls to the wall, trying to get that finish in the third round. So it might make the sport even more exciting. But besides that, you (have) to get competent judges. These guys have never been in a fistfight ... they've never thrown an actual punch or been locked in the Octagon (to) take someone's brain cells. So they don't know what it's like and what it takes to be in that moment."
Covington also wants to see referees improve their craft:
"You also (have) to get some competent refs because refs are our big deciders in these fights lately too. They're stopping it way too early, man. We fight with our shield in the UFC Octagon. We go in there to kill or be killed and that's what I signed the contract (for). So if you don't kill me, and I'm still in the fight and I'm still alive, I can recover and come back even stronger. So don't rob me of that kill-or-be-killed mentality, Mark 'Not So' Goddard."
Curtis Blaydes - UFC heavyweight
"I don't know if there’s one solution but I think there are ways we can reduce the amount of controversial decisions. I think the open scoring part, that's going to put some accountability on these judges - maybe we should give out the names. I think the only way to really fix it is for people to really start appreciating the time, the work that the artists put in for these (fights). ... You put in 12-to-8 weeks of work for one night and you've got some guy who doesn't even know the difference between an Anaconda (choke) and a D'arce (choke). The biggest thing is the grappling. The grappling exchanges? I think these judges are lost."
Blaydes added: "You need guys who know what's happening … You need fighters of the past generation to get their judging (licenses). How do you even become a judge? I don't even know the process. But if there's a process for older fighters, retired guys to get in there, I would like to see that. Guys like Chael Sonnen, Pat Miletich - I want to see fighters in there who know what’s going on with the stance switching. They can see guys are setting up a major attack even if they're not going hard ... These judges don't know what's happening. To them, they're just looking for, 'Oh, who's bleeding?' Damage does matter, but it's not the end-all, be-all."
Watch our full video feature below for additional opinions from Drakkar Klose, Edmen Shahbazyan, Emily Whitmire, and Gerald Meerschaert. Subscribe to theScoreMMA Youtube channel here.