Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White is typically the first to cry foul when a decision stinks, an event sucks or a referee blows a call. His exasperated pleas for an improved mixed martial arts (MMA) scoring system, competent judges and cloning in-ring officials to be more like Herb Dean is the stuff of legend.
Yet, last night (Aug. 11, 2012), White was seemingly at an odd loss for words when he was asked repeatedly at the post-event press conference (watch the full video here) for his opinion on who won the UFC 150 main event between Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar, which took place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
"I had it even going into that last round," was his diplomatic response when pressed.
It was a very close fight (watch the full video highlights here), much closer than their first "controversial" bout at UFC 144 earlier this year. Henderson won on both occasions, first unanimously and then the rematch via split decision. Indeed, the UFC 150 was controversial, with a majority of fans -- and even FightMetric.com -- siding with "The Answer."
Nonetheless, White bit his lip, made evergreen segues and used the result as a cautionary tale to Edgar and all other fighters "to never leave it in the hands of the judges."
"Again, it's one of those controversial decisions," he said. "Let me just say this: I'm not a judge. Ben Henderson won the fight tonight. He retained his title. And that's the end of it. I know there a lot of people who scored the fight differently, but I tell these guys all the time, if you don't like the way the judges score, don't let it get there."
That's that. Move along Edgar fans because there is nothing to see here. Because if there was, and if White went red on the dais, then the promotion would have a major problem on its hands. Let's be clear: White reluctantly booked this fight because he felt he owed it to Edgar for accepting rematches against B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard.
White repaid that favor, in spades, but he wasn't about to get burned by another "controversy" that clogs up the Lightweight division. In fact, even before this match went down, White told anyone and everyone who would listen that Nate Diaz will get the next title shot, even if Edgar had won and their series was split (1-1).
It was the smart play, the right (gasp) level-headed call. That's because the result, while close and controversial, wasn't a straight up robbery -- there was enough room for plausible interpretation to give Henderson the nod. And if White got all up in arms, publicly and on video tape, about a fight that could have gone (and in this writer's opinion, should have gone) in the direction of Toms River, N.J., it would have just continued to send the 155-pound division farther back in the wrong direction.
The future is Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz, and hopefully after that, the winner will take on the next, new number one contender who will emerge from the bout between Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis.
That's called progress. Something the division has seemingly lacked for the better part of two years ... even if it had to come at the unfortunate expense of the man, Edgar, who was so willing -- perhaps to a fault -- to tow the company line as champion.