Muay Thai scoring system is pretty much different compared to other martial arts. But even if fighters trade barbs for five rounds, it doesn’t have to mean that the fight will end in a knockout blow.
Smaller weight classes are known for super-tough fighters so many fights go to judges’ scorecards or decisions. I will explain to you the Muay Thai scoring system step-by-step. I hope you won’t be surprised by “raising wrong hands” anymore.
Muay Thai Scoring System – The Difference Is Enormous
Well, Muay Thai offers a very different scoring system compared to other martial arts. Even if you batter your opponent for three rounds, he might get back in the fourth and fifth and edge you out.
Many martial arts score round by round, but Thai boxing judges score the fight as a whole. It kinda reminds me of the old Pride rules (popular Japanese MMA federation in the 2000s). Let’s get to know the differences.
10-Point Rule Vs Muay Thai Scoring Rule
The lowest grade for the round is 6, the highest grade is 10. It is believed that judges’ scorecards mostly determine the level of action and success.
Yet, the Muay Thai scoring system offers one critical difference – it helps the judge to paint the overall picture of the fighters. Yet, the fighter who won three rounds doesn’t have to win, as the bout is scored as a whole.
Check my article if you wanna know more about how many rounds is a Muay Thai fight.
Even if you rock the opponent many times in the first three periods, he can still dominate the final rounds and score a victory.
Muay Thai scoring system values activity, an ability to hurt the opponent, and fighting until the final bell.
Here’s the number of points and meaning:
- 10-10 – even round
- 10-9 – one fighter won, but there was no significant difference
- 10-8 – dominant winner or one knockdown for a loser
- 10-7 – very dominant winner or two knockdowns for a loser
- 10-6 – two knockdowns for a loser and total domination
Let me make a comparison. For example, an MMA championship bout lasts for 5 rounds. If you win three rounds, it means you’ll lead 30-27 on the scorecards. You can lose the final two periods and still secure a win with a score of 48-47 unless the opponent knocks you down or destroys you for the next two rounds.
The same situation in Muay Thai means you’ll have a tiny advantage on judges’ scorecards after three rounds. Your opponent can pull out a razor-close unanimous decision nod even if you were not rocked during the last two periods, especially if he pushes the pace and you don’t fire back.
The First And The Fifth Round
The crowd often boos at the end of the fight thinking the referee raised the wrong hand unless the bout ended via KO. Round one and round five create a lot of confusion among fighters and coaches, so I will try to explain these parameters to you. Muay Thai scoring system is kinda specific here.
Well, the judges put this round on the paper, but it looks pretty much tentative and respectful. The majority of fighters don’t throw powerful knockout strikes in the first frame of the bout, it usually serves to study the opponent’s fighting style. In many cases, this round is scored 10-10 (draw).
The pace of the bout increases in rounds two and three. Fighters trade more shots. The final two rounds are usually stacked with powerful exchanges. Yet, you’ll see fighters touching gloves and raising hands a lot in the final period of the match.
It means the fighters are trying to leave a better impression on judges. When the battle is close, the two will exchange more and more strikes as the end of the fight closes in. From time to time, “the winner” will initiate a glove touch, and the other guy can accept or deny glove touch.
Fighter raises his hands to show the sign of dominance. From time to time, “the winning fighter” wants to initiate a glove touch. If the opponent accepts the touch, it means he accepts the loss. Yet, judges have the final word.
Which Categories Determine Winner?
Level of aggression, ring control/action, and technical execution are put into consideration by judges when determining a winner.
Level Of Aggression
The ring warrior who lands more strikes (clean or not clean) and marches forward leaves a better impression on the judges. Yet, the level of aggression is less important than the two parameters below. For example, an aggressive striker will win if and only if ring control/action and technical execution are very close.
Ring Control And Action
This parameter has a moderate (medium) level of importance. Action control means moving ahead, landing the final strike. When the fighters exchange two or more strikes, the ring warrior who lands the final blow leaves a better impression.
If fighter A circles, while the ring warrior B constantly controls the center of the ring and stays away from ropes, you’d think the fighter B is in control. But you are wrong, Muay Thai scoring system is different here! As long as somebody retreats and doesn’t eat the incoming bombs, he should get an advantage on judges’ scorecards. Precise counters are important, too.
Even when the fighter defends 5+ strikes and doesn’t land a single hit to the opponent, the judges should give him an advantage. A good technical fighter with excellent ring and action control will also get an advantage over a very aggressive technical fighter who misses a lot.
The technical aspect is extremely important for judges. Incorrect strikes will hardly leave a good impression on judges and the crowd.
People usually come to watch the perfect demonstration of the “Science of Eight Limbs”, so, in many cases, you’ll need a greater number of effective, accurate, and significant strikes to win the combat. Oh, stance and style matter, too. That’s why a foreigner rarely defeats a fighter from Thailand.
Here’s another tricky part of the Muay Thai scoring system. When the fighters land an even amount of blows, the guy who delivers more powerful strikes gets the victory.
There are few more important parameters for a win:
- Clean strikes
- Significant strikes
- Posture and dominance
- The level of damage
Muay Thai scoring system favors clean strikes. If you land undefended strikes to the opponent’s head, stomach, or legs, you’ll have greater chances to win the fight. Every kind of strike scores a point, but it has to hit the unprotected area of your foe.
Rocking the opponent is not necessary, but a sensitive area shot (chin, nose, temple, neck) leaves a better impression on the judges.
All types of shots can score a point (haymakers, very weak shots, moderate strikes…). The strike must reach the area of the opponent’s body that is not protected. You don’t have to rock the opponent to score a point, but hitting a sensitive area (chin, temple, or nose) might lead to better results on judges’ scorecards. The strike that affects the opponent significantly (knockdown or stunning) also leads to edging your rival out.
A significant strike causes visible damage to your opponent. Here’s the list of potential “significant strikes”:
- You rocked or stunned the opponent.
- Your opponent loses balance after eating a shot.
- The fighter on the receiving end shifts out of his original position and shows the signs of dizziness.
- The opponent is knocked down, and he must beat the count while you wait for further instructions in the neutral corner.
Posture And Dominance
You can easily call this parameter “the critical area” of the Muay Thai scoring system because it is very important to the judge. When the fighter sees he won’t be able to win via KO/TKO, he’ll do everything to impress judges. Some techniques make you look dominant, even if you don’t score a knockdown.
For example, if you’re unfazed by powerful shots, this is good for you. Sweep and throw expert knocks the opponent off balance. This is also great because the guy who spent more time on his feet gets the advantage of judges’ scorecards. If a counterstrike wobbles the opponent, it is also a big bonus.
Here is another interesting fact. The fighter with a hunched back will probably lose against the opponent with a perfect posture when all other parameters are even.
It seems the Muay Thai scoring system took something from Lethwei (Burmese boxing). When all other parameters are close, the fighter with a greater number of injuries loses the match.
The judges focus on huge cuts and heavy bruises (for example, big cuts on the face or purple leg), the level of bleeding (more blood means losing the fight), and level of fatigue (if you look fresh at the end of the fight, you have a greater chance of winning the fight).
Muay Thai scoring system is tricky. I bet you think some fighters were robbed from time to time. But I hope you won’t have a dilemma when you watch the next Thai boxing battle.