Middleweight prospect Ian Stephens entered a "sudden victory" round against Roger Zapata on episode six of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 (read the play-by-play here). Stephens took his opponent down and kept him grounded for most of the final frame and even tried to lock in a few submissions, but to no avail.
He lost the fight anyway.
What made it controversial was the fact that Zapata was docked one point for illegal elbows.
In the end, two cageside judges scored it for him 10-9 anyway, giving Zapata the win. Either they forgot about the lost point, or scored it 11-9. Or maybe they're like UFC President Dana White and just hate referee Steve Mazzagatti.
It was the wrong call any way you slice it.
Following the decision, White went bananas and tried to keep both teams from exploding. He then went on a rant about the incompetence of the referee, as well as the Nevada State Atheltic Commission (NSAC). But as it turns out, every cloud has a silver lining.
From his appearance on FOX Sports Live (via MMA Fighting):
"After that moment on The Ultimate Fighter I think it created change. Finally, everything that I've been crying about and yelling about and screaming about finally came to a head in this episode of The Ultimate Fighter. I think that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has done a great job fixing the problem and moving forward in fixing the future of reffing and judging in mixed martial arts. Here in Nevada, anyway. I think this was the explosion of what's going on and has been going on here in Nevada for a few years now. I think this was the moment where the right people recognized what was going on and that some changes needed to be made. The positive side to this is that after this went down [NSAC Chairman Francisco Aguilar], head of the athletic commission, has really stepped in and stepped up making sure not only that the right guys are in there, guys that have a history of making the right decisions. It's never going to be perfect, but what he's doing is after the fights now he's sitting everybody down, they're reviewing films, they're seeing what things were done right, what things were done wrong and what can be done better. This situation, as crazy and as bad as it was, has actually been a positive thing for the state of Nevada."
NSAC recently got an overhaul after embattled Executive Director Keith Kizer called it quits (more on that here).
Prior to Kizer's departure, the judging in Nevada was so bad that White was "f---ing scared" to hold mixed martial arts (MMA) events in "Sin City," a place that seemed to get it wrong more often than it got it right. But perhaps the ridiculous verdict in Stephens vs. Zapata helped change all of that.