Perhaps MMA judging never has been a more controversial topic than it has in early 2020.

UFC 247 last month, headlined by Jon Jones’ controversial win over Dominick Reyes, shed light on just how big of an issue it’s become in the sport. UFC president Dana White is notorious for preaching to “never leave it in the hands of the judges,” because in most cases it can cost you half your purse.

Former referee and current Bellator commentator John McCarthy says judging is not easy, especially when the crowd plays a factor, as well as the angle from which the judge is watching the fight.

While the general notion is usually that the fighter who looks like they’re doing more is winning, McCarthy thinks it should be about the effectiveness and impact of what that fighter is doing.

“The biggest thing we have to have is the judges understanding the criteria that is given to them and how to use it and then understanding in a fight what is effective,” McCarthy told MMA Junkie Radio. “It’s not what is flashy. It’s not the guy that’s moving forward. It is what is the most effective element in that round. Who’s the guy that created the most dangerous situations for their opponent?

“It doesn’t matter if he’s chasing him down. It matters if he is doing the most effective damage during that round. That’s what the judges are looking for.”

The middleweight championship fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero earlier this month at UFC 248 was one of the more difficult fights to judge due to the inactivity throughout 25 minutes. Adesanya was awarded the unanimous decision, winning three rounds on two judges’ scorecards and four on the other.

All three judges gave Romero the first round.

“Personally, I knew at the end of that (first) round, I knew that every judge, my son was one of those judges, I knew everyone was going to go with Yoel Romero because he landed the one big right hand,” McCarthy said. “You saw Israel rubbing his left eye, blinking his left eye because a knuckle caught him or something, but it showed that that punch had an effect. That’s what I’m talking about: Who affected the other the most?”

McCarthy admits that because the round was so uneventful, he wanted to score it as a draw, but knowing the judging criteria, he understands why it was given to Romero.

“I wanted to give it a 10-10 because neither, in my opinion, neither guy deserved to win that round,” McCarthy said. “You didn’t do enough to win that round. You didn’t do enough for me to say you actually get an advantage over your opponent now, having one point higher on the scorecard, but I knew when the round was over, they’re all going to give it to Yoel, and I probably would have to because that’s what the criteria tells me.”

In a lackluster fight, some argue that Romero should have won, but whether it deserves to go down as a robbery or controversial decision is firmly in question, as the lack of activity made it difficult for the judges to pinpoint the deciding factor.