Bellator 120 was filled with many memorable moments.
Highlights included Tito Ortiz mowing down middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko, Frank Shamrock's awkward backstage interviews, and Muhammed Lawal calling Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney a "dick rider" (a beef that was later squashed).
And, of course, one item that did not escape the promotion's first venture into pay-per-view (PPV) was the controversy in the most usual category.
Will Brooks -- in lieu of a concussed Eddie Alvarez -- turned in a career performance against the heavily-favored Michael Chandler in a close and hard fought five-round battle (watch it) and when Bellator cage announcer Michael Williams announced Brooks as the new interim lightweight champion (via split decision), the public outcry began.
When the scorecards were released, out came the torches and pitchforks. Larry Ingle (48-47) scored it for Chandler, while Todd Anderson (48-46) and Rob Hinds (48-47) scored it in favor of Brooks.
The latter of the three judges just mentioned, Hinds, spoke with MMAmania.com over the weekend to explain how he came to his conclusion on the interim lightweight championship and explained the highly-scrutinized fifth round score of 10-9 for Brooks that he -- along with Todd Anderson -- both turned in.
"Everybody knows Michael Chandler," Hinds said. "Just about everybody loves Michael Chandler. Nobody knows Will Brooks at this point until know. Just that alone, in that minute, minute and a half flurry at the end of the round for Chandler, that obviously sits in everybody's eyes. I completely understand that. Looking at the full five minutes, what Chandler did the last minute and 15 or whatever it is, wasn't more effective than the effectiveness that Will Brooks through that entire round up until then. That's why I saw round five going Will Brooks way."
"You know me, I will review it a million times but, really from my judges seat it was pretty clear cut when I took the full five minutes into consideration," he continued. "It was pretty clear cut. Of course all of us had a feeling that if this fight came down to a decision the way it was going there would be some quote, unquote 'controversy' and people not happy either way or whatever that looked like. That round to me was very clear for the full five minutes."
For those who don't know, rounds are assessed as a whole, meaning everything counts from beginning to end and is factored in as such. Many who watched the fight between Chandler and Brooks on Saturday felt Chandler's side triangle submission attempt at the end of the fight was enough to seal the deal to win the round.
Before Hinds explained what he saw during that sequence, he made a point to let those who watch at home know that his view that night at the Landers Center was often obstructed and there were noticeable times in the broadcast where he said he had to "lean a lot and try to get a better view." This is something that happens to judges quite often depending on the venue.
"Here's one of those things I experienced during that fight and the Rampage fight," he explained. "My judges seat... right to the left of me was a huge post and one of the boxes the camera guys stands on. To my right, the corner post by the cage door that I had, gave me a little bit of a blind spot and some of those things had a little bit of an effect. There were some things that I don't think anything was going on, but I just couldn't see."
"During those two fights especially there were times I couldn't see and where I could see really well," he revealed. "In the fifth round where Chandler got him down and was ground and pounding, Will Brooks was either deflecting a lot of those shots or they weren't landing very cleanly. There were a lot of things from my actual judges seat that I know would definitely make a difference from looking on TV."
The veteran official then shed some light on the round-ending submission attempt that many felt should have given Chandler the round and also broke down how a submission attempt can be seen completely differently depending on the angle and vantage point of the particular judge.
"An attempt versus an effective catch or a close submission, there's different weight to those," Hinds explained. "When you see an attempt at something, as judges we need to see how deep it goes, how much trouble it puts the other fighter in, all those things to give it either more or lesser weight. That's one of the things you look at too is really from each judges' chair the perspective you get is different."
"If somebody gets in a submission and you can't see their face, you can't see the actual lock, you can't see how deep the choke is, that has a lot of impact on how much impact you are going to give it. You just can't assume that something is deep or something's not. There's a lot different tell-tale signs that you have to look at."
Another topic of debate was round three, where many pundits were clamoring for a 10-8. Judge Anderson was the lone judge who awarded a 10-8 for Brooks in that round. Hinds said that round again came down to what he could see and what he could not.
"During that fight we saw a lot of similar things and also during that same fight we saw some things a little bit differently," he explained. "He scored round three a 10-8, which I can totally understand, and I scored it a 10-9 because there were things that we talked about after the fact that he had a really clear picture of and I didn't. That's where some of those things come into play too where you hear all of the 'oh my God it should've been this or should've been that.' When the judges are in different spots, there are different things that you see and don't see."
Almost every card is full of media members and fans scoring the fights on Twitter while they are watching, texting and tweeting and are obviously not solely focused on watching every moment of action that is going on inside the cage. Many don't know how fights are correctly scored or how rounds are assessed on top of that. Or they point to the "unified rules" which don't accurately tell how the criteria is used in the scoring of fights.
The judge and referee who hosts ABC approved seminars to help educate and improve the officiating in the sport of MMA (Combatsconsulting.net) says it's all "all just part of the process and part and parcel of fans being fans."
"It's so funny the people that are there in the media and they are typing and tweeting and all that and then it's 'It's such a robbery because this should've gone this way.' Listen man, when I watch you on the fights when I'm not judging, you are typing and on your phone and all these other things, how can you be sure of anything?"
Another score that drew some raised eyebrows was the unanimous 29-28 decision for Rampage Jackson over "King Mo" Lawal in the main event (highlights here). Many fans and experts felt it was Lawal who did more with his wrestling and should have been awarded the decision.
Hinds shares his assessment:
"First round, King Mo's wrestling was very effective," Hinds explained. "He put him where he wanted to be, he got him where he wanted him, all the grappling was effective. Second round, Rampage definitely started to feel the counter wrestling, really doing good digging the under hooks and denying Mo and hitting him with good shots."
"The third round where everybody thought Mo was winning, that is called ineffective wrestling," he continued. "Yes, you are getting in there, you are really trying hard, you're digging, but aggression and control are the very last two things that you consider. Rampage's striking was the most effective out of everything that happened in the five minutes of the third round, no question about it."
Hinds again shared "one of the differences between cageside and TV, or TV and being out in the crowd" as far as what he was able to see and hear during the main event.
"The shots that Rampage was hitting him with, whether it was a short uppercut or a mid-range shot, he was landing hard," Hinds revealed. "Those are the ones that sound like hitting a plastic lunchbox against a table. Those were thudding shots, regardless of the range of them and they were tremendously effective. Mo was trying hard and wrestling hard. The third round was ineffective wrestling versus effective striking, no question about it, at least from my seat."
Hinds is his own worst critic and is never afraid to face the music on a controversial call when he is a referee or a decision when he is a judge. He always goes back and re-watches the broadcast of the fights he refs or judges. Sometimes he "may have a different opinion on it" after watching it for a second time in a different format.
"That's kind of one of the cool things when I actually get to judge those fights and I get to reassess it later versus watching what everybody else is watching and making my assessment there," he said. But after turning in another night's work at Bellator 120, he firmly stands behind all his decisions.
"No question about it."