Much has been made recently regarding the decision by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to allow cageside judges to utilize video monitors to help them score fights.
While this practice has been used before, UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill" this past Saturday, May 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, marked the first event held since the measure passed to always allow monitors for judges.
And the results?
Decidedly mixed. The 10-bout card saw seven fights make it to the judges with generally well-received results. However, there were two contests that were called into question.
The first, Michael McDonald vs. Chris Cariaso, saw a result that most pundits agreed with -- just not the final tally. McDonald brought home the split decision win, taking two scorecards 29-28. The third judge, though, awarded the bout to Cariaso by a score of 30-27.
That's a rather large discrepancy.
All's well that ends well, however, and "Mayday" was awarded the victory. No biggie. This was not the case with the second controversial contest of the evening, Miguel Torres vs. Demetrious Johnson.
The importance of the Torres vs. Johnson fight cannot be overshadowed or understated. Torres, a former bantamweight champion and pound-for-pound stalwart who had fallen on hard times, is in the midst of restoring his reputation as one of the elite 135-pound fighters in the world.
He's also still introducing himself to the larger UFC audience, as he had just one fight with the promotion previous, a bout he received a ton of criticism for despite his winning.
Johnson came into the night fresh on the heels of a huge victory over Japanese import Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto in his Octagon debut, a performance dominant enough to put his name in the discussion as a fast-rising prospect just a few fights away from a title shot.
It was a match-up thought to favor Torres, who possesses a massive reach advantage and is adroit enough with the necessary technique to negate Johnson's speed advantage.
The fight played out mostly on the floor, with "Mighty Mouse" executing a strong wrestling game with plenty of takedowns while Miguel hunted for submissions and sweeps from the bottom, utilizing an equally strong jiu-jitsu game.
It was an impressive display on the part of both men, but the end result called into question the criteria used by the judges to determine a clear winner.
On the one hand, Johnson's takedowns and top position were clearly looked favorably, and his wrestling, widely considered the best base for MMA, was easily superior.
On the other hand, though, Torres was always on the attack, constantly threatening with submissions and remaining extremely active -- and dangerous -- from the bottom.
The end result was a unanimous decision win for Johnson with scores of 29-28 across the board.
Reactions have varied, from those who believe the decision was the right one and those who think Torres was robbed. How do the fans (at least those with access to a computer and a rebel streak) feel about this?
To illustrate, here is a screenshot of Torres wikipedia from just a short time ago:
As you can see (if you can't click the pic for a larger version), not happy with the decision.
The loss is a devastating one to Torres, who was on the verge of a serious step up the bantamweight ladder. He made his feelings on the fight known on the matter via his Twitter account:
"Sorry guys, I f*cked up and let the judges decide my fate. Johnson did a good job and had a great game plan. ... Rewatched my fight, think I won based on effective attacks, sweeps and position control. ... Bad judging can't hold me down, I will be back."
Our very own Andrew Mendez remarked that he felt Torres won the fight thanks to his impressive work from his back but scored it for Johnson because he thought that's how the judges would see it.
He was right.
For his part, Johnson gave a breakdown of how the fight played out at the post-fight press conference:
"I knew he won the first round but it was kind of controversial. Me and him were going back and forth, we both had heel hooks on each other, you know, just back and forth scrambles. And then in the second round I think I controlled it a little bit better on the wrestling. And in the third round I think I beat him up on the feet. He's supposed to be taller, 76-inch reach, I'm 66, I was pushing forward and I was hurt. I was very happy with my performance."
Fair enough and while it's undoubtedly a biased assessment of the bout, there are quite a few folks that disagree with it.
He was asked to expand further and even make the case for why he deserved to win, to which he replied:
"I don't think he hit me once on the feet, not once. And on the ground, I controlled the top and the wrestling so there's two parts of the aspect of the game right there. I mean, he was throwing submissions but he couldn't finish me. And I passed guard and I kept on coming and coming and I was hurt but I never backed up, I always came forward, so... that's my argument right there."
Is that a strong enough argument to convince the doubters he deserved the win he was awarded? After all, it's a monumental victory and one that will unquestionably push him into a fight that could very well go a long way in determining a future contender for the division title.
That's an awful lot to gain from a fight in which there are so many dissenters in the ultimate outcome.
Whose side are you on? Did Johnson deserve the win via his superior wrestling and top control? Or should Torres, with his sweeping submissions and savvy overwhelming attack from the bottom, have been awarded the victory?