I wanted to write this article after seeing the scorecards for the Saenchai vs Kevin Ross fight and also in light of the scoring on the Cosmo Alexandre vs Cyrus Washington fight which was held in the US earlier this year.
Before I get started I should make it clear that I am not a qualified judge. For a definitive guide to how a Muay Thai fight should be scored you should check out this article by Tony Myers:
This is only intended to be a quick and rough guide for those who (like the judges in the US...) don't understand how a Muay Thai fight should be scored.
Muay Thai is not scored in the same way as boxing, K-1 or MMA so trying to apply the same criteria to a Muay Thai fight that you would any another combat sport is a waste of time.
The first two rounds of a Muay Thai fight are always scored a draw, unless one fighter absolutely dominates or visibly hurts his opponent. The opening rounds are only intended to be used as a feeling out process and good fighters will almost always treat them as such. Rounds one and two are an opportunity to size up your opponents and to begin to demonstrate your superiority to the judges BUT will generally have no effect on the scoring of the fight.
Rounds three, four and five are the decisive rounds and the result of them will settle the outcome of the fight unless there is a stoppage. Muay Thai rounds are not scored in isolation though so, for instance, if one fighter looked stronger in rounds one and two but round three is even the judges will often give round three to the fighter who looked stronger in the opening rounds.
A fighter who is already ahead normally seems to get the benefit of the doubt in a close round which means that once a fighter has taken a lead on the scorecards he only needs to be as good as his opponent to win the fight, whereas the opponent needs to clearly demonstrate that he is better. This may seem like merely a semantic difference but it is never the less an important one.
Another way that Muay Thai differs dramatically from other combat sports is in the way that different techniques are scored. Any strike which lands cleanly scores points but straight knees and kicks to the mid section seem to score more points than any other techniques.
Read more after the break...