It wouldn't be a memorable night of mixed martial arts (MMA) without it. Last night (Feb. 25, 2012) at UFC 144: "Edgar vs. Henderson" from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, was no exception.
In the main event of the evening, Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson put on a thrilling back-and-forth, five-round fight that was exciting to watch, but difficult to score. Edgar -- the Lightweight champion coming into the night -- used movement and quick strikes to score points, while Henderson leveraged power and creativity to do the same.
If there was a post-fight beauty contest, Henderson would have won hands down -- it didn't look like he had a scratch on him. Edgar, meanwhile, appeared as though he was stuffed through a meat grinder, with his eye swollen shut and nose likely busted thanks to a "Smooth" heal to the schnoz.
The ringside judges, fortunately, score fights based on what happens inside the cage, not what the fighters look like when all is said and done. Regardless, in this case, the trio sided with Henderson, awarding him a unanimous decision. One that was apparently controversial, with fans, fighters and even Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White thinking the judges got it wrong.
White explains his difference of opinion after the jump (via MMAFighting.com):
"Again, I'm not a judge and my opinion doesn't matter but I had it even going into that last round and I gave the last round to Frankie. (Four rounds to one for Ben Henderson) is crazy. Most of the judges had (Edgar) losing the last round, I don't know how you have him losing the last round. But I was on Twitter going into the third, fourth and last round asking people how they had it and there were some people who had it just like I had it and there were other people who had it the other way for Henderson. I said, 'Get ready for some controversy, this is going to be a controversial decision.'"
It's a hot topic for debate, one which will seemingly never be put to rest.
Henderson clearly did more damage and created more fight-ending opportunities. On the flip side, Edgar caught kicks, flicked punches and slipped shots. He also attempted, and secured, more takedowns ... even though he didn't do much with them, just like his strikes.
Damage vs. Volume, one that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, among others, feels that "Volume" wins -- at least last night -- by a "landslide:"
"I’m not a judge, but I had the fight even going into the last round and I gave the last round to Frankie. Joe Silva had this scored for Frankie by a landslide, as well. But a lot of judges score on damage and Henderson didn’t have the damage. There wasn’t any question where the damage was done. I’ve got nothing but respect for Henderson, look at what he did tonight. I’m not going to make a decision about the rematch right now."
That's an extreme view, considering that the FightMetric stats actually affirmed the judges collective decision -- Henderson scored more in the striking across the board, save for leg strikes.
Then again, perhaps perception really is reality, especially when many feel it's required for a challenger to beat the champion definitively to get the nod.
Where do you stand?
For more on the controversial UFC 144 main event between Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson click here.