I hate to get political on you, but it’s hard not to draw parallels between the Iowa Caucuses and UFC 247.
Instead of talking about an exciting and close race between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in Iowa, everyone is freaking out about the inept and borderline corrupt Iowa Democratic Party. And instead of talking about an exciting and close fight between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes at UFC 247, everyone is talking about how Texas commission judges are inept and borderline corrupt.
It’s too bad, but that’s it. That’s the only story coming out of these events now. All the news today is laser focused on the shortcomings of MMA judging, and nobody officially connected to the UFC has been more vocal about the issue than commentator Joe Rogan.
Rogan made it clear after the Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez and Lauren Murphy vs. Andrea Lee fights that he thought something was rotten in Texas, even going so far as to call out a judge during the Murphy-Lee fight for allegedly ignoring the bout going on in front of them.
Here is Joe Rogan calling out a Judge who did not watch the fight for 30 seconds straight. It happened in the prelims and I bet it happened again in the main event. You have to be one selfish fuck to do this, fighters put everything on the line. #UFC247 #Reyes #JonJones @joerogan pic.twitter.com/N64X9yuFaC— Exon (@wazowski_john) February 9, 2020
All that incompetence throughout the night led to a situation where no one was happy when the close main event between Jones vs. Reyes ended in Jones’ favor, with one judge awarding it to the champ 49-46 and another giving Jones the second round of the fight that clearly went Reyes’ way.
Rogan had seen enough. In the dying minutes of the pay-per-view, he went off on the system as it currently is.
“I can’t argue about this enough. I can’t get angry enough,” Rogan said. “I’ve done it so many times. For anyone to think that was 4-1 Jon Jones, that person’s insane! They’re insane. Dominick Reyes put on a hell of a fight tonight and to disrespect that performance by that kind of judging is insane.”
“It’s unfortunate because it’s one of the biggest sports in the world, it’s - in my opinion - the most exciting sports in the world,” Rogan continued. “Incompetent judging. Incompetent judging and a poor system. If we got together the best minds in mixed martial arts and the best journalists and fighters and they tried to figure out a way that we could agree on a scoring system that makes more sense, it would be nice.”
”And clearly there’s a giant issue with people judging that really don’t understand martial arts,” he added. “They judge boxing. Boxing you’re dealing with two weapons. A variety of different ways to use them, but two weapons. With mixed martial arts there’s just so much more to it.”
His booth partner Dominick Cruz added his two cents.
”We need to work together with these commissions,” he said. “They gotta let us in. They won’t let us in. They want to control everything and that’s the issue. Why can’t we just work together towards one common goal of creating an amazing sport. That’s what we need to do. And stop being separate commissions here, we’re here. No. We’re all one.”
Of course, overhauling MMA scoring would be a huge boondoggle of a project because as Cruz pointed out, every state has its own athletic commission with their own judges and refs and sometimes their own rules. Texas doesn’t use the current unified rules of MMA, so even if a new system was devised they’d probably opt out.
And just because you’re knowledgeable about MMA doesn’t mean your ideas are going to be good. Joe Rogan spent the better part of 2019 arguing that MMA should take place on an open football field because cage walls are unnatural. So even the most experienced voices in the sport have some nutty ideas about how things should work.
Still, we certainly seem to be at a place where we can’t expect the judges to make the right call any time a fight gets remotely close. Jones vs. Reyes wasn’t rocket science. Reyes took the first three rounds, Jones the last two. I’ll accept wiggle room on round three, but a simple solution would be to load any judge who screwed the others up into a cannon and fire them into the sun. Rinse, repeat, and in a year or two the remaining judges should be pretty sharp.