Myth: Japanese Judges Favor Japanese Fighters

Sunday 8 February 2009

It might just be me, but for as long as I have been following MMA in Japan, Japanese judges have had a reputation for favoring Japanese fighters over their foreign opponents when the fight goes to a decision.

This is a myth that I deceided to put to the test. I am not going into single decisions here, controversial decisions go both ways. I am going to see if decisions tend to go to one part.

I have gone back to January 1, 2003 and until today. Here are the conditions for me to include the fight:

-Fight was between a Japanese and a Foreign fighter
-It went to the judges (decision or technical decision)

I have looked at 5 organizations that I consider to have had the most fights with foreign fighters. The organizations I chose were Shooto, DEEP, DREAM, Sengoku and Pride. I found 201 fights that went to decision.

I actually expected to find some evidence for this myth, but to what degree I was not certain. What I found actually surprised me.

Again, I am not looking at controversial decisions. Judges make "mistakes", I am looking to see if there is a bias towards foreign fighters and it should be clear when you are looking at all the fights from the last 6 years.

Of course the number of fights in DREAM and Sengoku is very low, and these results might not be representative yet.

Here is what I found:
Total fights: 201
Decision going to Japanese fighter: 86
Decision going to foreign fighter: 88
Decisions ending in draw: 28

It breaks down as follows:
Total fights: 63
Fights going to Japanese fighter: 19
Fights going to foreign fighter: 34
Fighs ending in Draw: 10

Total fights: 62
Fights going to Japanese fighter: 21
Fights going to foreign fighter: 24
Fights ending in draw: 17

Total fights: 59
Fights going to Japanese fighter: 33
Fights going to foreign fighter: 25
Fights ending in draw: 1

Total fights: 9
Fights going to Japanese fighter: 7
Fights going to foreign fighter: 2
Fights ending in draw: 0

Total fights: 9
Fights going to Japanese fighter: 6
Fights going to foreign fighter: 3
Fights ending in draw: 0

I can not see that there is any bias towards foreign fighters. As far as I can tell, the judges in Japan are just as fair as anywhere else and the main goal is to keep it out of their hands. Controversial decisions will happen, but I think they go both ways and in the long run it all evens out.


Unknown 8 February 2009 at 12:58  

very nice facts and thank you to have the time to bring those stats

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