Just RELAX! Outrage doesn’t always have to accompany a close decision

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Commentary/Opinion, UFC Events
Tags: ,

jonesgusdecisionThis is one of the funny things about combat sports like MMA. Every time there’s a close fight, the judges should just run away and hide because there’s about a 99% chance they are going to get completely TRASHED by 50% of the fans.

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson will go down as easily one of the best fights of the year, and easily one of the best light heavyweight title fights of all time. Unfortunately, history tells us it will also go down as one of the most controversial also. Not that it should. But in MMA, “close fight” has become synonymous with “controversial decision” and “bullshit call.”

If you don’t believe me, here’s a challenge. Name one fight in UFC history that was very close; but WASN’T critically panned as a horrible judges’ decision by a large number of fans. Name ONE. You can’t.

When watching a fight, everyone undoubtedly has their favorite and least favorite fighters. Fights are also very emotional to watch. There’s a lot of high paced action. Commentators, fans, cornermen, and everyone else thinks they can multitask enough to not only watch a fight, but also score it simultaneously. I don’t think it’s possible.

Let me give you another example. There’s a phrase I hear at almost every event without fail: “First 2 rounds were close; this round will decide it.” This statement—although common and seemingly logical on the surface—couldn’t be more untrue. If round 1 is very close, a judge can’t take a wait-and-see approach. They HAVE to score it. They HAVE to award a winner of that round. The fact that it was close is irrelevant.

Then when round 2 rolls around, maybe that one is close too. Same thing. They HAVE to pick a winner of that round without thinking about who they scored the 1st round for. When the first two rounds of Rampage and Machida were over, there were two definite opinions (or lack thereof)—that they 1st 2 rounds were so close, no one could score them; and because of that, everyone universally agreed that the winner of round 3 would win the fight. WRONG.

So when Machida dominated Rampage in the final round, everyone thought the choice was easy. But that isn’t how it’s done. So when the scorecards were announced, I knew it could go either way. And I knew whichever way it went; there would be a huge uproar from half the fans. Was it close? Obviously. Could it have gone to Gustafsson? Certainly. Was it a travesty of justice and yet another black eye on the sport thanks to horrific scoring by the judges? Umm, no. Not this time. Not even close.

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