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6 Dumbest Things You’ll Hear About the GSP-Hendricks Decision

By on November 18, 2013

gsp beat upLook, I don’t have anything new to say to you about the decision of St. Pierre-Hendricks itself. Like most people with eyeballs and at least a basic understanding of the sport, I thought Hendricks won rounds 1, 2, and 4. I concede that most of the five rounds weren’t blowouts, but I also believe that they were clear enough that the decision was extremely disappointing.

What I do have for you is an observation. More specifically, an observation of the dumbass things that people tend to say whenever there’s a bad decision. For your convenience, I’ve collected them here, whether they are being said in defense of the decision, in criticism of it, or somewhere in between. Here they are, the six dumbest things that you’ll hear about the GSP-Hendricks decision (or any other bad decision, for that matter).

1. “Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges.”

Let’s ignore for a minute the fact that this has been repeated so much that it’s simply accepted as sound advice nowadays. Let’s also ignore how weird it is for the president of an organization to say, “Hey everyone, do NOT count on the officials to do their jobs, because THEY CAN’T.” Can you imagine David Stern saying, “Don’t depend on the refs to call fouls,” or whoever the hell runs Nascar saying, “Make sure you win by at least a quarter mile, because those jerks on the track are always messing shit up”?

So, let me get this straight. Instead of demanding more from our judges, we are now victim blaming fighters when the judges are unable to do their jobs? Hey, Johny, we know you won that fight fair and square, but it’s kinda your fault that you lost because you let it go to decision. I suppose if Johny gets assaulted at the after-party, it’s his fault because he shouldn’t have worn that revealing dress, too.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that it’s completely asinine to think that someone like Hendricks “let it” go to the judges. It’s not as if he purposefully failed to beat St. Pierre to a pulp within the time limit. It’s just that beating one of the toughest fighters in the world into submission or unconsciousness is kind of a hard thing to do. Crazy, right?

2. “Watch the fight again with the sound off.”

The person saying this gem is always a devil’s advocate who justifies the fact that he is one of only about seven people in the world who think that a given fighter deserved a decision by deciding that anyone who disagrees with him must have been swayed by the mighty powers of Joe Rogan. “Watch it again with the sound off, bro,” he says, as if it’s the 70s and he’s telling you to put on a Zeppelin record backwards to reveal some sort of hidden message.

It’s a condescending and shitty thing to say, because it assumes that you only came to the conclusion you came to because Rogan hyped up a particular fighter during the course of the fight. It can’t be that you actually watched the damn thing and saw Fighter A kicking the shit out of Fighter B for three out of five rounds, after all.

Nevermind the fact that the press who were watching the fight live at the event had no access to the dulcet tones of Rogan and Mike Goldberg, nor did the fighters and fans who were watching live. Nevermind the fact that barely anyone actually sits by themselves and watches a pay-per-view in silence while hanging on every road Rogan and Goldberg squeal into their headsets. People order them in groups, douchebag. The things cost $55 freaking dollars, remember (standard def is for suckers)? I’ve watched many a UFC with a group of friends, and we barely ever heard a word that was said during the fights.

3. “Look at GSP’s face!”

Not all of the dumb things being said are in favor of St. Pierre, the defeated-but-reigning champion. One dumb thing that you’ll hear over and over is, “Look at GSP’s face!”

The problem with that is that facial damage is neither an official part of the scoring criteria nor an accurate indicator of actual damage. Now, in this case was St. Pierre beat up more than Hendricks was? Pretty obviously. But do scratches and cuts equal damage? Of course not.

People get knocked out without looking any worse for the wear after a fight, after all. And some people bruise or cut easier than others do, too. Nevermind that with round-by-round scoring and ten-point system, overall cumulative damage has nothing to do with the end result. If St. Pierre edges out four rounds 10-9 but gets his ass whooped in a 10-7 round where he gets busted open and lumped up, guess what? He still wins 47-46.

4. “But GSP had more significant strikes!”

On the other hand, some people want to downplay damage completely and turn MMA into Olympic boxing. This is a really puzzling one, too, because how can a person watch GSP-Hendricks and not understand that one of GSP’s punches is not worth one of Hendricks’? Did you not watch Hendricks repeatedly shrug off straight rights that landed flush on the jaw? Did you not see St. Pierre back up and stumble when Hendricks’ shots landed?

Let’s talk about significant strikes, too. Fightmetric defines significant strikes as “all strikes at distance and power strikes in the clinch and on the ground. It does not include small, short strikes in the clinch and on the ground.” That means that one of GSP’s jabs counts the same as one of Hendricks’ straight lefts when it comes to significant strikes. That also means that a punch that grazes a fighter or lands to his forehead (for instance) counts the same as a punch that lands solidly or lands flush on the chin.

Sometimes, you have to trust your eyes. In a fight like Diaz-Condit, where neither fighter was really hurting the other, stats can be helpful, but not so much in this case. And even in that fight, stats’ usefulness is limited, because judges don’t have access to them as they watch the fights. Furthermore, liberal use of slow motion and rewinding is used to get accurate numbers- which certainly reflects perks that aren’t available to judges or anyone else who is watching a fight live without the benefit of instant replay.

5. “You have to beat the champ decisively.”

This one drives me absolutely fucking nuts. Somehow, this old myth from boxing tradition continues to live on, despite the fact that it is not based in reality in any way, shape, or form. Let’s cover this quickly before I blow a gasket:

– There is nothing in the scoring guidelines or criteria that says a challenger has to do “more” to beat a champion.

– There is no advantage whatsoever to being a champion when it comes to scoring, with the exception that you can fight to a draw and keep your belt.

– Each round is scored on its own merits with absolutely no accommodations or handicaps given because one fighter or another is a champion.

I don’t know how to put it any more clearly. Would BJ Penn have said that close fights go to the champion after he was beaten the first time by Frankie Edgar? How about Edgar when he lost to Ben Henderson? Or Quinton “Rampage” Jackson when he lost to Forrest Griffin? Or oh screw it, why won’t this stupid myth die already?

6. “The fight was fixed!”

When no other explanation will do, this is a trusty old standby. In fact, when a decision is so inexplicable that it makes GSP-Hendricks pale in comparison, it can seem like the only plausible answer.

Furthermore, it has a lot of appeal to an increasingly cynical time where everyone demands proof and even after getting it, suspects a conspiracy. It’s actually more comforting in many ways than the truth, which is that a lot of judges can’t do their fucking jobs.

It’s easier to believe that the fix was in, until you realize that it makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

Let’s say that Dana White just wanted GSP to keep the belt, and his outrage after the fight was part of the act to throw us off the trail.

Would he really risk the organization itself to fix the outcome of a single fight? If the truth came to light, the UFC would be done, as would his career. Come on, the sport is built upon being “As Real As It Gets.” Think it’d survive a fight fixing scandal as if nothing ever happened?

Knowing that, what fight would be worth such a risk? GSP-Hendricks? Why? So that you could piss off the fan base when the wrong fighter wins and just end up rematching the two anyway, just as you would have done if Hendricks had won?

And if the UFC was in the practice of fixing fights, why would they have let Chuck Liddell lose a close decision to Keith Jardine? Why would they have let Penn lose to a then-under the radar Edgar? The list goes on and on.

Of course, there’s the other obvious point, which is that the UFC doesn’t hire its own judges or referees. If they did, we would never see Steve Mazzagatti or Cecil Peoples again. The bottom line is that the UFC doesn’t have the control it needs to punish people for not making the “right” calls, and to approach a judge beforehand with a bribe would be risking the future of the organization and thus, what could become a billion dollar industry on the outcome of one fight. This, despite the fact that the UFC has time and time again seen its most marketable fighters lose and the company end up no worse for the wear.

The moral of the story is that occasionally, overthinking things can actually make you look dumber. Sometimes, the most boring, disappointing, and downright stupid answer is the right one. In this case, it’s the relatively unexciting reality that there are a lot of MMA judges out there who are simply shitty at their jobs. Sometimes, a bad decision is just a bad decision. Instead of justifying it or looking for a motive, we should accept it for what it is and work for a better system with better officials to participate in it.

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1 comment
  1. Mick says:

    OK Jon,

    And the better system and better officials will be brought into the mix how???? The Vegas Wigs are the top of the heap. Everybody and I mean everybody is expendable. Separate business dealings with the negative and destructive influences that surround you and you can’t go wrong. Otherwise a group is simply going along and crying about it.

    Greed has stopped many great men from rising above it.

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