As I wrote last week regarding Jake Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez, MMA scoring has some serious flaws.
Once again, this was made somewhat evident at UFC 144, during the UFC Lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. After a dominating performance by Henderson, UFC President Dana White commented that he believed "Edgar won." The same was said by UFC fighter and analyst Kenny Florian, amongst others.
It begs the question: What fight were they watching?
Did they watch it live, or on television?
I have yet to hear back from Florian, but I know White watches the bouts on a television monitor, albeit one that is maybe 15 inches wide. It may seem odd how the UFC President, the man with the best seat in the house, is watching on a television, but he is quite intelligently watching the entire production, and not just the action. Hence the monitor.
However, even having watched it on a monitor, White is still affected by the sounds that take place in the cage. This is an important point because a lot of times what may sound like a powerful punch, leg kick or slam really is not one at all.
If someone smacked you with an open hand on your thigh, a loud noise would emanate, but it really does not cause much damage. Now if a person took their closed fist and hit your thigh with the same force, you may only hear a thud, but it would certainly cause more pain and damage than an open-handed slap.
You get my point?
This is one of the problems with cage-side judging in MMA, and it is another reason there should be judges watching the fights on television. The close-range sights, sounds, and angles at a UFC fight do not necessarily equate with the damage being caused.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that anyone who viewed last night's UFC title fight on television not only believed Henderson won, but believed it was not even close.
In scoring the fight I had it 49-46 for Henderson, with Edgar barely getting the nod in Round 3, but I could even see that round going the other way.
All of this becomes a problem because you have White, the most influential man in the sport, and Florian, a well-known fighter and commentator, claiming in their respective opinions that Edgar won.
That has a resonating effect through the sport, as fans and media members begin to question Henderson's victory. There should be no controversy. The fight was a one-sided affair from start to finish.
A couple weeks ago UFC Announcer Joe Rogan said he believed Carlos Condit won his welterweight bout against Nick Diaz. Like White, Rogan is cage-side, but sees bouts only from one angle, with extra audio in his head gear.
Soon afterward Rogan watched a television replay and believes Diaz won (as do I). So here we have influential UFC personalities espousing their opinions about very big fights at a time when they really have not seen the fight in its entirety.
Yes, they saw all the rounds, but so much of the action cannot be viewed so close to the cage. I would even argue that being too close hurts your ability to see it, and that fans who are a few rows up in the stands have much better angles.
Fights should be viewed from all angles before anyone weighs in, and the only way to do that is by seeing it on television, which is truly close up. And this goes for judges too, who are in no better position than any other cage-side viewer.
As someone who did a lot of production work for the UFC, I have witnessed more than 300 fights live. There have been times when I believed I too had the best seat in the house, only to realize I was mistaken. Like White, Florian, Rogan and others, I have witnessed a man defeat another, only to severely change my opinion upon watching it again on television.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that television gives the fans, judges and everyone else a better view of nearly every sporting event, and MMA is no different.
Ironically, it was in Japan where Pride judges scored fights as a "whole." I keep hearing people say, "Henderson won the fight as a whole, but Edgar may have won the rounds." Without getting too far into this aspect on its face, it just sounds stupid, no?
In what other sport does this ever happen? Even in boxing when you believe a fighter won "the whole" it is extremely rare the loser "won more rounds."
So why MMA?
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