May 6, 2010
Judging a hot topic at UFC 113
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency
As Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua prepare to finish what they started last October, the subject of shoddy judging remains on the minds of fight fans.
At UFC 104, the two put on a technical classic. Throughout the course of the match, Rua (18-4) brutalized his opponent’s legs with kicks, forcing Machida (16-0) to switch stances to protect his lead leg. As the bout came to a close, the damage had taken its toll on the UFC light-heavyweight champion.
If you had simply heard these two men had been in a fight, you would have likely assumed Rua was the victor based on their appearances at the post-fight press conference. However, judges Cecil Peoples, Marcos Rosales and Nelson Hamilton saw it differently, awarding Machida three of the five rounds.
Following the bout, Peoples even went on record saying leg kicks don’t end fights, despite there being numerous examples proving him wrong.
“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,” Peoples said in interviews following UFC 104.
Rua heard about Peoples’ claim, citing it as an example of poor judging.
“I heard about those comments from (Peoples) and I think that was just an excuse to justify his scoring of the fight — his bad work,” Rua said through his translator.
UFC president Dana White said regardless of who was awarded the decision that night, the outcome would have been controversial.
“The big controversy with this fight is there are some people who think Machida won and some people who think Shogun won,” said White, who admitted he felt Rua took the bout. “That’s never fun – when a fight ends and people don’t agree with the judges. It’s never a good situation, especially when there’s so much on the line. Like (Rua) has said so many times in his interviews, to win this title is his dream. For all the hard work that goes in and to think you’ve won the fight, and you didn’t, or vice versa – it’s never a good outcome.”
The UFC 104 main event is hardly the only case of questionable judging recently.
Randy (The Natural) Couture leaning on Brandon (The Truth) Vera for the majority of their fight at UFC 105, Leonard (Bad Boy) Garcia’s split-decision victory over Chan Sung (The Korean Zombie) Jung at WEC’s first pay-per-view, and Frankie (The Answer) Edgar’s title win over B.J. Penn at UFC 112 – all examples of decisions that have split fight fans.
White has a canned answer every time he’s asked about a controversial decision: Fighters shouldn’t leave it in the hands of the judges.
However, this is hardly the ideal attitude. After all, if judging is to remain an important element of the sport, is it too much ask that the standards be improved?
Though a revamp would help in certain cases, no matter how much you revise the system, at the end of the day it has to be interpreted by the three judges sitting ringside. And even if they follow the guidelines to the letter, their decisions are not going to please everyone.
Winnipeg’s Joe (El Dirte) Doerksen, who faces Tom (Filthy) Lawlor on the UFC 113 undercard, remembers thinking Rua won the encounter with Machida. However, he said it’s not up to the fighters to tell judges how to do their jobs.
“From a fighter’s perspective, you want to go out there and finish every fight,” Doerksen said. “Personally, I saw that fight four rounds to one for Shogun. So yeah, I look at the judging and kind of scratch my head a bit. But it’s not my job and not my place to get involved with that. At the end of the day, they’re going to fight again and hopefully one gets knocked out.”