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Being Swayed by Announcers

MMA Betting: Being Swayed by Announcers

By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

MMA is a sport where many of the results are handed down by arbiters who determine who won the fight. Sometimes, the judges seem to have totally missed the boat. They blow it from time to time. Other times, the announcers have helped make the decision look worse than it really is because of the way they announced the fight. We're quick to condemn the judges, but human error can also spread to the announcing booth and if we're relying on them to help us form opinions, we could easily be led astray.

Even seasoned MMA fans and betting men depend on announcers to a certain extent. It's nothing to be ashamed of. How could you not? You have two guys screaming into your ear--it's hard not to be at least a little swayed. Perhaps it's more the case with inexperienced MMA observers, but even seasoned fans are not immune to it.

Announcers are not judges and for good reason. They're calling the fight, trying to make sense of what they are seeing and relating it to the fan. For the most part, they do a fantastic job. The problem is when we allow announcers to form reality for us and then the judges have a slightly-different view of events. Chances are the judges will get blamed for handing down a bad decision, but the human error may have occurred in the announcing booth.

In an MMA event, there are a lot of people with different jobs. You have the commission and their representatives, the ring-card girls, the announcers, the fighters, the cornermen, the referee, and a whole cast of characters. They all have one job. except for the announcers, who in addition to describing the action also become informal judges of sorts. That doesn't always work. When calling a fight, a lot of energy is put into it. To be a judge, you have to be omni-focused on the fight, not flapping your lips a mile a minute.

For the most part, the announcers do in fact get it right. But let's face it, a lot of fights could be scored by Ray Charles. When the action is relatively one-sided, one needn't have a very educated and focused eye to determine who the winner is. But a lot of fights are close. Or a fighter who opened the fight in dominant fashion begins to subtly lose his grip on the fight. That's where depending on announcers can lead us astray.

One common mistake of announcers is to establish a reality and then stick with it too long. In the first round, one fighter is having his way. The announcers are talking about how good that fighter is and how his opponent is not doing well. An inertia takes over. Once they establish a starting point, it can take too much to get them to reconsider their view point, even if the fight has shifted slightly.

Announcers sometimes have a self-fulfilling prophecy when calling a fight. They create a reality and stick with it too long, even if the action in the octagon no longer reflects the reality they have created. What can happen is that announcers are too late or reluctant to acknowledge the changing complexion of a fight, however slight it may be.

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When one fighter is dominant in a certain round, the mind can start playing tricks with the announcers. They won't release their grip on that stance unless the other fighter comes back and dominates his opponent the same way he got dominated in the previous round. But does he really have to? Winning a round doesn't have to be done in dominant fashion for it to count. So if a fighter opens the fight by winning round one in dominant fashion, but his opponent edges the second round, the announcers will still be making it like the fighter who won the round more clearly is still winning.

This sport is steeped in the mathematics of rounds-scoring. If a fighter wins a round clearly, he will get a 10-9 vote, unless he was super-dominant and gets a 10-8 round. But most rounds will be scored 10-9 and that can even be a round where there was no doubt. But we have to remember--if his opponent edges the next round, it counts just the same. And even though the announcers may be thinking one guy is winning, the math shakes out at the end for the other guy. It's just some of the problems we face when we rely too heavily on announcers to form our opinions for us.

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