This year, September and October had many large local MMA shows in Japan such as Pancrase 252, VTJ 3rd and Tribe Tokyo Fight, but I have found many recent faults in JMMA.
First, we saw ridiculous decisions with Shinji Sasaki vs Bogdan Cristea and Marlon Sandro vs Yojiro Uchimura. If you see the fights, there seems to be no way to justify those decisions, but honestly I can find logic behind them.
Damage is always favored in the judging criteria in Japanese MMA. That started with Pride. When compared to the United States, Japanese fighters generally have a tendency to take and land more damage because it is essential for the judging criteria.
I won't go into balancing damage versus point-scoring here because it is apples and oranges and everyone has a different opinion. Also, it is true that sometimes judges don't judge by damage.
Pride era fighters went forward to brawl or take opponents down after suffering damage from strikes because it erased the impression of receiving damage in the judges' minds. Each attack has a degree of damage, but how can we compare different kinds of damage or completely different things like positioning?
In the one example, Sasaki jabbed Cristea for the entire fight, while Cristea knocked Sasaki down once and otherwise landed no major attacks at all. Sasaki's jab was effective and he bloodied up Cristea, but I think the judges gave the fight to Cristea based solely on damage during the one brief time period.
With Sandro and Uchimura, it was a nearly even fight in the striking, but I gave a slight edge to Uchimura because of his middle kicks. However, Sandro took Uchimura down for scoring purposes, and while he did not mount much offense from the top, it was enough to win him the round. The judges totally ignored the takedown and gave the round to Uchimura.
The extreme focus on damage in Japanese judging criteria does not work for MMA, and that was confirmed after watching those two decisions. I even thought that Sasaki's jabs did more damage than Cristea's one knockdown did, so if damage was so important, Sasaki still should have won.
Also, at Pancrase 252, Jordan Currie choked out Shungo Oyama by arm-triangle. Referee Ryogaku Wada did not hear the bell ring for whatever reason and he did not separate the fighters until after extra seconds had elapsed. When Wada finally separated them, Oyama was out cold. The officials realized that extra time had passed, so they discussed the situation.
Check out Dean Marchand's report for more details about this problem.
After time had passed, Pancrase officials announced the result of their discussion and declared that Jordan Currie had won by TKO at 5:00 of the first round. They confirmed that Oyama appeared to be unconscious at 4 minutes and 58 seconds
As well, many fighters missed weight during September and October. At Pancrase 252, it was Dom O'Grady and Daniel Swain.
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai realized that he could not make weight before his fight at "Mach" festival and tried to make a catchweight contract with Shamar Bailey two weeks beforehand. After his flight and the rule meeting, Bailey demanded that Sakurai cut weight and that resulted in the immediate cancellation of the fight.
In Shooto, Brian Choi missed weight against Akitoshi Tamura. Akitoshi got angry about this and pointed out that, unlike other organizations, Shooto does not have any rules in place to punish overweight fighters besides warning them that they will be suspended if they do it again.
At Deep Jewels 1, Sadae Numata defeated Celine Haga. The problem was that Numata came in overweight for that fight and still got a title shot against Seo Hee Ham. Fighters who miss weight should not get that.
From my standpoint, I blame the fighter who missed weight when it leads to controversy and arguments with others because it is the source of the problem.
Lastly, at VTJ 3rd, Megumi Fujii fought Jessica Aguilar in a rematch. Aguilar thumbed Fujii in the eye twice in the first round and that was enough for Megumi to lose sight in her eye for the rest of the fight.
After more than 15 minutes of rest, Megumi strongly appeared to want to fight on and the fight did eventually continue. She said she knew that if the doctor said the fight should stop then there was no other way, and she understood that, but I was against it that day.
I think the fight should be a no contest since there was no fault by Megumi. Audiences are supportive about whatever injury conditions there are, and organizations shouldn't go against the laws of sports for any reason because that defines part of the value of sports as a whole.
I don't think that all Western MMA sports perspectives are better than Japanese MMA perspectives, but the past several months have been too tough for Japanese MMA lovers. I have never witnessed this many rough months from a sports perspective during all of the years that I have followed JMMA.
Big thanks to Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for English editing.