UFC: Judging the judges

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

It's a debate that has raged all week and will likely simmer until the rematch.

In what looked like a lopsided victory for challenger Mauricio "Shogun" Rua over UFC light-heavyweight champ Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, the judges saw it differently on their scorecards.

Few who witnessed the event agreed with the three judges -- who for the record are Cecil Peoples, Marcos Rosales and Nelson Hamilton. The three agreed Machida beat Rua three of the five rounds.

Even UFC president Dana White had trouble containing himself in the post-fight media conference.

"I thought Shogun won the fight," said White.

"It drives me crazy when these guys put in so much time, work and effort into training for these fights and then go out and fight like that and not get the right call."

Judging from the overwhelming response on MMA fansites and blogs, most beer and pizza pundits who watched the fight couchside agree with White.

STATS BACK RUA

There are plenty of stats to back those who disagree with the judges' call.

According to CompuStrike, Rua outlanded Machida 89-50 in total strikes, including 73 leg kicks that were clearly imprinted on the seemingly always reversing Machida.

FightMetric, which measures a fight based on all aspects of MMA, scored it 49-47 for Rua -- not the 48-47 final rendering for Machida that the judges saw.

Announcers Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg -- who have the same vantage point on the fight as White and the judges -- also gave the fight to Rua.

So what do the judges have to say for themselves?

"Although Rua threw a lot of low kicks, they were not as damaging as Lyoto's diverse attack in the earlier rounds, which is why I scored the first three rounds for Machida," Peoples told several MMA fansites.

"You have to keep in mind we always favour the fighter who is trying to finish the fight, and leg kicks certainly don't do that."

Really? Keith Jardine's split-decision win over Chuck Liddell comes instantly to mind.

There should be little surprise. Peoples is the same judge who was part of the unholy trinity that gave Michael Bisping the decision over Matt Hammill at UFC 75. Until last weekend, that was the biggest robbery in UFC history.

White said the UFC is always looking to improve, and those improvements include refereeing and judging.

ADVICE FOR FIGHTERS

"We're working hard to get better referees and better judging to make sure these things don't happen," said White.

He also said every fighter needs to protect himself from unjust decisions.

"One of the things I always tell these guys is you can't leave it in the hands of the judges."

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA

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