UFC 75 - A Scoring Travesty, But Not A "Fix"

Saturday night's UFC event, UFC 75 - Champion vs. Champion, was a mixed bag of really good fights, a disappointment, and an exercise in horribly botched scoring.

The event entire event was overshadowed by the split decision in favor of Michael "The Count" Bisping. To call it a contraversial decision is akin to calling Katrina a Summer shower.

Matt "The Hammer" Hamill's vastly improved stand-up striking and constant, aggressive forward movement completely neutralized Bisping's supposed striking advantage. In the clinch, Hamill showed himself to be the stronger, more dominant grappler and established his dirty-boxing as the decided edge in close (you gotta love the schoolyard style front headlock and uppercuts!).

The first round all three judges scored for Hamill as they should have. The latter two rounds, judge Chris Watts got right and scored for Hamill as well. Jeff Mullen and Cecil Peoples scored rounds two and three for Bisping.

Jeff Mullen explains his scoring on The Underground Forum by saying that from his position he could see Bisping from an angle that the cameras and broadcasters didn't have and that Bisping was consistently landing the jab and avoiding return shots. He also argues that Bispings guard was very active and he continually was trying for armbars and sweeps while Hamill failed to take advantage of the top position. Mullenf further stated that Mario Yamisaki, the referee for the fight, thought that Bisping won the second and third also. I'm going to watch it again, but after my first two viewings, I'm convinced that Hamill won all three rounds. The only round that I see a case for scoring in Bisping's favor was the third round in which it seemed that Hamill's cardio flagged a bit.

A lot of blogs and comments on MMA sites are clamoring that this fight was a fix and that UFC is going the way of boxing with corrupt scoring and officials. A lot of fans are claiming that Dana White clearly wants to expand more into the Euorpean market and fixed the fight, or that it was a case of "Home Cooking" with the judges scoring for their local boy, or both. I disagree with both assessments. I don't think that Dana White fixed it for any reason and I'm pretty sure that the two U.S. judges scoring for Bisping and the U.K. judge scoring for Hamill gives lie to the "Home Cooking" theory.

I think that perhaps there is a problem with scoring it as a ten point must system like boxing. I rather like the Pride scoring system in which the judges decide the winner based on the entire fight rather than by round. Cecil Peoples, at least, is a boxing judge and perhaps he isn't as educated in MMA as he should be. I don't know.

This is the first UFC fight that I think the judges got absolutely wrong. I know that others are pointing at the Ortiz-Griffin fight, but, while, I don't agree with that decision either, I can at least see how it happened, and it was a much closer fight. I'm willing to give the UFC a pass on one bad call without crying "FIX! FIX!" like so many other fans are. Dana White and the Fertita brothers have shown an interest in the integrity of the sport up to this point and it'll take more than this to doubt them. I can't see that there was anything for the UFC to gain in "fixing" the fight.

And the claims that the judges answer to Dana White and therefore will do whatever he says is absurd! In the U.S. the judges are appointed by whatever state athletic commission is sanctioning the fight. In the U.K. and other locales where there is not sanctioning body, the judges are contracted individually per fight. There's no "answering to" anyone. They aren't employees of the UFC worried about a job. Dana White has no leverage over them.

I dunno. I'm disappointed in the decision. I'm going to rewatch it with Mullen's explanation in mind to see if I can see what he sees, but it seemed a lopsided win for Hamill to me.