Even if you don’t like Dana White, you have to sympathize with him a bit after yet another judging-related debacle last Friday night. “I went through this shit last week,” he said as he shook his head at the post-fight press conference. White, who has seen everything from horrible decisions to head-scratching choices by assigned referees, has already had his flyweight tournament messed up because the head of the Combat Sports Authority of Wales couldn’t read Sal D’Amato’s handwriting.
“Controversy has stuck to us like glue,” White said, and he’s right. The UFC tried to do the right thing here. They provided for a “sudden death” fourth round in the case of a draw, even though draws are exceedingly rare in MMA (at least outside of Shooto). The decision should have paid off immediately, as a superb first fight in the tournament between Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson was scored a majority draw by the three judges in attendance. We would have gotten a fourth round of a great fight, elevating the fight to possible Fight of the Year status, giving us a clear winner and keeping the tournament on schedule.
Instead, Joseph Benavidez will wait, as we already have a logjam before a champion has even been crowned. McCall looked relieved at the press conference, but he had Johnson in deep trouble at the end of the third round. Wouldn’t he have been better off in a hypothetical fourth round? Now, he has to do it all over again.
Craig Waller, who had to consolidate the three scorecards into one card for the official decision, misread a 10-8 for McCall as a 10-9 on Sal D’Amato’s card. The correct score would have made the fight a 28-28 draw, and Anthony Dimitrou had a 29-29 result after he had the cajones to score a rare 10-10 in the first round.
To add even more confusion to the scenario, the fight was incorrectly announced by Bruce Buffer as a split decision win for Johnson. That means of the three scorecards, only one made it all the way to the fans’ ears in its correct form. Sure, people make mistakes, but come on. It’s a three round fight. Am I saying that something like this should never happen? That out of thousands of fights, this should never happen again? Yes, I am. Double-check with the judges; do whatever you have to do. It’s unacceptable.
Finally, the Meaningless Late-Round Takedown Backfires
If you’ve read my articles in the past, you’re likely familiar with my distaste for the absolutely cynical farce that is the late-round takedown. How many times do you see fighters go for a takedown right as they hear the ten-second warning, hoping to “seal” (or steal, as it were) the round? They do this even though the judges are instructed not to value takedowns that don’t lead to anything, and even though a takedown with such a small amount of time left by default cannot lead to anything.
It finally bit someone in the ass. Thiago Alves was cruising to a clear decision victory against Martin Kampmann, formerly known as the most unlucky fighter in the sport, when he inexplicably stopped tooling Kampmann in the standup and thought, “You know what I should do with one minute left? Go for a takedown!” He did, he left his neck out, and Kampmann must have felt like Santa Claus himself hopped down the chimney and delivered the victory to him.
Fighters, please take note. Secure a takedown if you think you can get something done on the mat. Please, don’t do it to be lazy and stall out the rest of a one-sided win or to “score points” with ten seconds left in the round. It’s nonsensical, it’s awful to watch, and it can backfire, big time.
–How great did Joseph Benavidez look while vanquishing Yasuhiro Urushitani? Benavidez says his power will make him a rare commodity at flyweight, and let me tell you, I totally buy it. For those who didn’t know much about the flyweight class before last weekend, Urushitani is no pushover. Rather, he’s a consensus top ten flyweight who was ranked number three in the world by Sherdog before the Benavidez fight.
–Steven Siler and Cole Miller had a heated staredown at the weigh-ins, which is rather unusual for a preliminary bout where neither man needs to “hype the fight”. The bad blood came from when Siler defeated Miller’s brother Micah on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Apparently, Cole fancies himself to be his brother’s keeper, but he only fared a little better, dropping a unanimous decision (29-28 on all three cards) to The Miller Killer. That’s gotta hurt your pride. Siler had better not show up at the next Miller family reunion. On second thought, he might as well; then, he can add a few cousins and uncles to the list, also.
–Is there anything more jarring than hearing the distinctive horns of the Fox Sports theme, followed by the worn-out nu-metal of Stemm’s “Face the Pain”, which awkwardly goes directly into the Fox Sports instrumental again? It’s bad enough that the pre-fight coverage has Fox written all over it, while the event itself still has all the hallmarks of a regular UFC broadcast. I mean, they did literally nothing to blend the two production styles whatsoever. They just stuck them together and shrugged their shoulders. Does it matter? Well, no. But at the same time, somebody’s getting paid for that lazy shit. Come on, now.
What are you talking about? I was doing great!– Martin Kampmann’s humorous response to a rather dumb question from Jon Anik (“Did you feel like you needed a finish to get a ‘W’ here?”).
Adventures in Judging
What do you have to do to get a 10-8 round in a UFC event? Apparently, you have to do more than get two takedowns, mount your opponent, take his back, outstrike him 83 to 27 (including 17-6 in power strikes) and nearly finish him as the round ends. After all, of the three judges scoring the Ian McCall-Demetrious Johnson fight, only one (Sal D’Amato) scored the third round as a 10-8 for McCall.
On the refereeing side, awful stoppage in the Anthony Perosh-Nick Penner fight by John Sharp. Perosh threw just 12 unanswered shots from the back mount at the end of the round, about 2/3 of which landed meaningfully, to supposedly “force” a stoppage with less than one second on the clock. Brutal stoppage.
Movin’ On Up Award
A year ago at this time, Martin Kampmann had lost two extremely close decisions in a row, both of which many thought he deserved to win. Since then, he’s defeated Rick Story and now Thiago Alves and now has completely regained his momentum. He stands a couple of solid wins away from challenging for the title at this point, and he has the tools to achieve a lot if he can stop being so damned content with eating punches to the face. Was it one of the greatest comebacks ever? Sure, even though I’m uncomfortable with calling it that when the “comeback” was triggered more by a very stupid mistake on his opponent’s part than anything special that he did. Of course, on the other side of the coin, he was given an opportunity and seized it. He did what he was supposed to do, and we all know by now that Kampmann deserves to have things go his way for once after all those close decision losses.
Beautiful Loser Award
You’ve gotta hand it to Kyle Noke, who put on a gutsy performance in a weekend that was full of them. Noke won the first round of his bout with Andrew Craig, but blew his knee out in the process. He still fought for another two full rounds, losing both en route to a unanimous decision loss. Still, fighting through such an injury shows tons of heart.
Holy $#!& Award
With apologies to the Benavidez knockout (and most of the McCall-Johnson bout), I’ll stick with the Kampmann guillotine, here. To see Alves be less than a minute from certain victory, shoot a meaningless takedown and watch as Kampmann quickly sinks in a guillotine was quite a turn of events.