While I won't deem UFC 99's lightweight matchup between veteran Japanese grappler Caol Unoand UFC veteran Spencer Fisher"robbery", the decision does pose questions among fans as to what criteria judges were using to give the decision win by Spencer Fisher. Most fans would likely give Fisher the edge due to their deeply-rooted interest in seeing a guy shell someone with punches, knees, and kicks. The trained-eye of hardcore fans may appreciate Uno's ground acumen in the fight, and his ability to relentlessly work takedowns and utterly stifle Fisher's offense. The problem here is that not all judges are created equal, and therein lies a problem that MMA will likely always have when it comes to very close fights.
After re-watching the Caol Uno vs. Spencer Fisher fight a few times, it's clear that Spencer Fisher won round one. I don't believe there is a debate among fans regarding the round. Rounds two and three are probably the most debatable rounds, and they are very tough to judge. Honestly, a judge who isn't trained in the technical ground aspects that Uno implemented in the match would have no clue as to how to score Uno's "unassuming" style.
For sake of argument, let's focus on rounds two and three. Round two saw Uno eat some punches and kicks from Fisher, but for the most part, he controlled Fisher against the fence to avoid damage. He relentlessly sought the takedown, and while he didn't manage to produce very much damage on the floor, I think Uno gets the nod for the round due to his aggression, control, and damage that he actually did to Fisher. It wasn't an impressive round by any means, but Fisher didn't land any significant damage while Uno pushed the pace and got some takedowns.
Round three is the most controversial round of the fight. Fisher spent most of the round fending off clinches, kneeing Uno against the fence, and trying to land big shots. Fisher landed a solid left and a couple of nice kicks, but there wasn't anything truly significant during the round. Uno's takedown around the 4:15 mark was the most significant action of the round by either fighter, and Uno managed to maintain the mount and land some solid punches. Moreover, Uno was able to keep Fisher from escaping. Personally, I would score the fight a 29-28 decision win for Uno.
This isn't to stir some sort of over-the-top debate as to how horribly wrong the judges were at UFC 99. Shu Hirata over at AdCombat.com pushes the issue however:
Uno was not only the aggressor throughout the fight, but he completely overwhelmed Spencer in the final round. I would have given Fisher the first round, but in the second Uno found his number and wore him down with an incessant attack finding his ground game by exposing his back and easily reversing Fisher, then controlling the second round. In the third Fisher looked like he did not even want to be there, and by the end Uno obviously had won the fight. Uno was as fresh as a cool breeze, took complete control and effortlessly landed a vicious ground n pound attack for which Spencer had no reply. Even before the judges’ announcement, Fisher was nodding his head knowing that he had been beaten and outclassed. Sadly enough, the European judges did not see the fight and gave it to the good ole American boy. Had there been another round involved, Uno would have destroyed Spencer. And by the way, we where not even given the score of the fight; only that it was a unanimous decision.
While I wouldn't go as far to say Uno "took complete control" in the third round, I do believe Uno won this fight. Hirata tries to state that being 'fresh as a cool breeze" matters in the decision, but we all know that it really has no bearing. I will, however, agree that another round may have made this very difficult for a tired Fisher.
What does the decision really come down to? A few things cross my mind. First and foremost, does Fisher's slight edge in the third round's opening four minutes outweigh what Uno did to Fisher in the last forty-five seconds of the fight? Furthermore, how did the judges score the second round? Both those questions hold a lot of water when coming down to a final decision as to who won this fight. If the judges were simply looking at Uno's pulling guard and generally being a pest on Fisher's legs for most of the fight while still actually obtaining some takedowns, I'm sure they probably gave Fisher's striking way more merit.
In any case, this decision wasn't robbery. I can easily say that I could have saw it go to Uno or Fisher, but from my perspective, Uno won this fight. Octagon control and aggression don't seem to come into play unless the fight is so close, those are the final options for judges to rely on. Unfortunately, I think Fisher did just enough to make an impression with his striking on the judges, and Uno suffered because of that.