Mixed martial arts (MMA) judging has never been great. Hell, the old combat sports adage, “Never leave it in the hands of the judges” was pushed so hard by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that it painted it on the wall of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) training center. The message is clear: if the judges can get it wrong, they probably will get it wrong.
And on Saturday night in Jacksonville, Fla., that was certainly the case.
Three fights in particular caused quite a ruckus, especially with lockdown gamblers desperate for something to wager on. Song Yadong defeating Marlon Vera, Dan Ige getting the nod over Edson Barbosa, and Claudia Gadelha beating Angela Hill were all widely hailed as robberies on the Internet. It’s more accurate to call them close fights that could have gone either way. But, while we can understand an iffy decision it’s hard to deny Vera and Hill should have gotten their hands raised.
The two took markedly different approaches to dealing with the injustice of it all.
How to handle a controversial decision By Chito Vera— chica (@amandansanchez) May 17, 2020
How to handle a controversial decision by Angela Hill pic.twitter.com/BnDFHfLlmV
Hill also saw a lot of support from various fighters in UFC, including heavyweight Ben Rothwell. Rothwell had just come out of Florida on Wednesday night with a split decision win over Ovince Saint-Preux in a fight that was a clear 29-28 for anyone with functioning eyes and brain cells.
Warrior , and I feel for you. Judging has been extra disgusting lately— Big Ben Rothwell (@RothwellFighter) May 17, 2020
“I feel for you,” Rothwell wrote to Hill. “Judging has been extra disgusting lately.”
It’s a frustrating subject to bring up because we know nothing will be done. At this point we know what to expect from the various athletic commissions across the United States and various judges get groans when their names pop up on the screen before a fight. But who knows? With so many more people betting on the UFC, perhaps some well heeled degenerate with connections will finally be able to call in a favor up the chain and get some of these people re-assigned away from major MMA events?
Look, I know that MMA judging is difficult and extremely subjective. I don’t expect a judge to get it right 100 percent of the time during close fights like Song-Vera and Gadelha-Hill. But we have a lot of data on these judges — hell, Florida had them scoring rounds at UFC 249 even if a fighter got finished. Instead of looking at controversial fights, look through their scoring of clear cut rounds, and get rid of the judges that mess those up.
Ah, who am I kidding? Athletic commissions will do nothing of the sort. Let’s just keep saying, “Never leave it in the hands of the judges” instead.