TORONTO - I have a bad taste in my mouth after UFC 140.
It has nothing to do with the quality of the fights on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre, mind you. Overall, it was a pretty entertaining card with lots of strong finishes. The UFC is on an incredible run lately and Saturday’s event only extends that streak.
But one instance of judging stupidity has me scratching my head.
No, I’m not talking about Brian Ebersole squeaking out a razor-thin split decision over Claude Patrick. It was a close fight and you could argue in favour of either man. Ebersole controlled most of the action in the first and third rounds, but Patrick landed a few cleaner strikes and threatened with chokes.
In a situation like this, it all depends on who is watching the fight and what aspects they choose to emphasize most. Since neither fighter inflicted any significant damage, you’re going to be left with a decision that won’t please everybody.
Rather, what has me irked is the scoring of the main event between Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida.
Judges Jeff Blatnick and Richard Bertrand both awarded the first round to Jones. This, of course, being the frame where Jones couldn’t tag Machida and was sent tumbling backwards after eating a straight left for dinner.
I realize this is all moot since Jones put Machida to bed with a guillotine choke minutes later, but it only further emphasizes the serious judging problem in mixed martial arts.
Machida won the opening round. No debate there. It was as clear as night and day. Black and white. Sugar and that horrible-tasting artificial sweetener stuff I accidentally put in my coffee one time.
Judges are paid to perform a much-needed task and time after time you’re left wondering what fight they were watching. Even the addition of monitors hasn’t really helped matters.
What if it had gone to a decision? What would Machida have needed to do to convince Blatnick and Bertrand he was the better fighter? Apparently, out-striking your opponent and visibly wobbling him with a well-timed punch don’t qualify as answers.
Maybe if he ripped Jones’ leg off and beat him over the head with it. I exaggerate, of course, but the point still stands: Machida wasn’t just battling the UFC light-heavyweight champion, he was also facing off with two of the judges sitting cage-side.
MIR BREAKS NOG’S ARM
There’s an old saying in Brazilian jiu jitsu: Tap, nap or snap.
No one knows this better than UFC heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo (Minotauro) Nogueira. A decorated BJJ black belt, Nogueira is fully aware that if you don’t submit, you are either going to sleep from a choke, or are mere moments away from hearing a sickening crack due to a joint lock.
At UFC 140, Nogueira didn’t submit to Frank Mir’s kimura, allowing himself to be the victim of the most gruesome submission in UFC history. Referee Herb Dean immediately halted the bout. Nogueira tapped out only after his arm looked like a wet noodle.
At the post-fight press conference, Mir admitted he knew he would have to break Nogueira’s limb to win.
“When I locked in Nogueira, I had a strong inclination he was not going to tap,” Mir said. “So, I took a deep breath, and you guys saw what happened.”
Pride can be your worst enemy sometimes.
GIVE TITO ONE MORE FIGHT
Prior to his UFC 140 bout with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tito Ortiz admitted retirement was around the corner.
But he also made it clear that May 30 will mark 15 years competing for the UFC. Ortiz has one more bout on his contract and he wants a rubber match with Forrest Griffin. Then, he will be able to leave the sport on his own terms.
Make it happen. Ortiz deserves it.
Despite all the ups and downs of his career — both inside and outside the cage — Ortiz has remained loyal to the UFC brand and played a big role in keeping the promotion alive during the dark ages. He’s also still one of the most popular fighters in the sport today. Fans at the ACC exploded when he entered the arena to lock horns with Rogerio on Saturday.
Yes, his record is only 1-6-1 in his past eight fights, but a number of those bouts were close. He’s suffered TKO losses in his two most recent trips to the octagon, but those were due to body shots, not devastating blows to the head.
There comes a time when fighters need to be pushed into retirement for their own good. They spend their entire lives training and competing. That drive isn’t something you can just turn off like a light switch.
But Ortiz knows his time is almost up, but he wants one last fight to settle a rivalry. I say give it to him.