I’ll never forget the first time I watched a professional fight. The electricity of punches being exchanged like rapid fire, and the blur of vicious kicks and hook shots flashing across the television screen, punctuated by the roar of the crowd and the spray of blood through the ring. My adrenaline was instantly through the roof. Fights have a way of grabbing you by the throat and never letting go.
But even though I loved watching fights, it took me several Fight Nights to get a handle on what was happening in the ring. The sport was clearly more nuanced than I had realized. And I didn’t have any baseline knowledge about the scoring, judges, refs, or rules. I tried to listen closely to the ringside commentators and was constantly asking my husband to explain everything to me. But over time I started to pick it up, and now when we have friends over to watch the fights, I’m the one providing ringside commentary for them (or TV-side commentary, shall we say).
Whether you prefer traditional stand-up boxing or mixed martial arts, here are five things I learned about Fight Night that helped me enjoy it even more.
5 Tips For Enjoying Fight Night
1. There’s More Than One Way To Win a Fight
Fights are scheduled for either 3 or 5 five-minute rounds, and if both fighters are still standing at the end of those rounds, the decision will go to the three judges, who will judge each fighter based on time spent in a dominant position, the number of significant strikes, takedowns, and overall performance.
But boxers can always win by Knockout, Technical Knockout, or Doctor’s Stoppage, which is when a ringside medical professional deems one fighter unfit to continue fighting because of damage sustained in the ring. In MMA, they can also win via Submission, which is when their opponent “taps out” by tapping their hand against the body of the other fighter. This usually occurs when a fighter is dominating their opponent using wrestling or Jiu Jitsu techniques.
2. Knockout vs. Technical Knockout
The term “Knockout” can mean different things depending on the sport. In boxing, a Knockout occurs when one fighter is knocked to the ground and does not return to their feet within ten seconds (counted by the referee). A Technical Knockout is when a referee determines that a fighter has been rendered unable to properly defend themselves. This could happen when a fighter is being punched incessantly and isn’t blocking their face for protection. It could also happen if they are unsteady on their feet after a strike or series of strikes. Oftentimes you can identify a Technical Knockout by the lack of defense or a glazed look in the fighter’s eyes that indicates they aren’t coherent.
3. Certain Moves Are Illegal
In a traditional boxing match, you cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent. At first glance, it might seem like there are no rules in MMA, but the sport has carefully designated specific kinds of strikes as illegal to protect the fighters. These illegal moves include: glove holding, eye pokes, crotch shots, punches to the back of the head, 12-6 elbows (slamming an elbow directly down, as if from 12 to 6 on a clock), and kicks or knees to the head of a downed opponent.
If a fighter executes an illegal strike or pokes their opponent in the eye, the referee may stop the fight to have the doctor check for significant damage, and may even issue a warning to the offending fighter. If a fighter is warned twice, the referee may deduct a point from their score.
4. Touching Gloves is a Sign of Respect
Right before a fight begins, you’ll hear the referee say, “Protect yourself at all times.” But then you might see the two opponents reach out a hand and touch each other’s gloves. The first time I saw this, I was so confused. Did they both throw bad punches and block each other? Touching gloves at the beginning of a fight and even at the beginning of every round is a sign of respect between fighters, and it also signals that each opponent is ready. That being said, you won’t always see this happen if there’s a strong sense of rivalry or bad blood between fighters. And some less sportsmanlike fighters will even take advantage of the glove-touching tradition to catch their opponent off guard.
5. The Person Moving The Most May Not Be The Person Winning
If the fight goes to a judges’ decision, then significant strikes will be a huge factor in who wins and who loses. Just because a fighter has been jabbing nonstop doesn’t mean that a) those jabs were actually hitting their opponent, or b) those jabs were doing damage. Easy, gentle strikes are not considered significant. So if one person is throwing a million gentle loose and ineffective strikes, and the other is throwing half the number of strikes, but they’re powerful, the judges will likely determine the more powerful exhibitor to be the winner.
Get In On The Action
Fight Night is always more fun when you understand the action and can analyze it with friends over snacks, but even if you’re not a seasoned fan, you can still enjoy the sport! And if you’re not an experienced boxer, you can still get some fight action of your own with FightCamp.
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