Part of our ongoing series looking at some of the fundamentals of K-1 to help those who might be new to kickboxing. Here, we take a look at judging.
K-1 judging is done on a round by round 10 point system, with many similarities to what we see in the UFC. After each round, the winner of the round gets 10 points, the loser 9 or less. Should the fight go the full 3 rounds, the total score from the judges determines the winner. There are, however, a few key differences.
First, and perhaps most important, as in boxing a knockdown is an automatic 1 point deduction. So if a fighter is winning a round 10-9, then in the last minute scores a knockdown, it’s now 10-8. A 2nd knockdown would take it down to 10-7, and a 3rd knockdown in the same round would be a TKO. In theory, a fighter could be dominating a round en route to a 10-9, then be knocked down on a fluke punch, thus evening up the round at 9-9. In reality, this almost never happens and a round with a knockdown is almost surely 10-8. What this means is that it is very hard to win a fight if you have been knocked down and have not knocked your opponent down.
The second difference is that there does not need to be a round winner. If the action is close, judges will give it a 10-10 draw (and this often happens). They can also give a 9-9 or 8-8 draw, depending if there were knockdowns, or a lot of action from both men, but 10-10 is the most common. Because there does not need to be a round winner, judges will often have fights scored even after 3 rounds. If at least 2 of the 3 judges have the fight even, they go to an extension round (and some fights have multiple extension rounds) to determine the winner.
One final note – K-1 is notorious for its bad, and questionable, judging. They have often been accused of playing favorites in judging, and hiring incompetent judges. To help with these concerns, last year they adopted a new “open scoring system” where at the end of each round the judges scores are flashed on the big screen. While this doesn’t prevent bad judging, it at least helps fighters and viewers know where things stand. Open scoring has its fans and detractors, but it looks like it is here to stay.