The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale Results: Scoring Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida

I_cfc_mediumThere appear to be disputes about how the main event was scored and with good reason. Even the first round where Sanchez is the clear winner poses problems for scoring. Let's walk through each round and underscore why there is debate and why this fight is difficult to score.

For help and some different perspective, let's use the staff (all very competent individuals) round-up and scoring. Round 1:

Jordan Breen scores the round: 10-8 Sanchez
TJ De Santis scores the round: 10-9 Sanchez
Loretta Hunt scores the round 10-9 Sanchez

Clearly there is no other way but to give Sanchez the round. That much is certain. The question then becomes, when to score a round a 10-8 versus a 10-9. Referee John McCarthy argues a 10-8 round should either be when the beating is so severe and the fight was so close to being stopped from damage that we must award a two point differential or when there are two Ds: damage and dominance. In other words, if you offensively damage your opponent badly and also positionally control him for the course of the round, that's a 10-8 round. The problem? In MMA, there are no defined criteria for what constitutes a 10-8 round. Judges are left to borrow analogous situations and principles from boxing or invent their own. Clearly Guida was hurt badly enough to bring the issue up of scoring the first round 10-8, but without some guidance on what makes a 10-8 a 10-8 in MMA, it's not a given the round was or wasn't a two point advantage for Sanchez.

The second round is where things start to get hairy. Here's how the staff scored it:

Jordan Breen scores the round: 10-9 Sanchez
TJ De Santis scores the round: 10-9 Sanchez
Loretta Hunt scores the round 10-9 Guida

Right away it's obvious this was a close round, but who is the rightful winner? I personally scored the round for Sanchez, so let me explain my view point. Yes, Guida got the takedown and was able to keep Sanchez on his back for a large majority of the round. However, there are two problems for Guida. First, he didn't pass guard. He doesn't have to pass guard or even attempt as long as he's doing damage, but the amount of damage inflicted in this round was largely delivered by Sanchez off of his back. Guida landed a couple of elbows and some hammerfists, but that was it. The hellacious elbows from Sanchez were for more effective damage. Let's add to that how well Sanchez controlled the posture of Guida as well as the admittedly stuffed kimura and armbar attempts. And one more critical feature: Guida gets the points for the takedown, but once in guard the full guard position is regarded as a 50-50 predicament. The fighter on top can throw more strikes and has a few submission attempts, but the fighter on bottom has more submission opportunities with a little striking thrown in. If we regard that position as 50-50, the question then becomes who did more damage and who controlled the positioning? It's close when trying to decipher who did the controlling of positioning, but the damage was done by Sanchez. It's admittedly a very close round, but Guida being in top position means very little without doing damage.

In addition to a close second round, the third was also tough to decipher. Once again, here's how the staff scored the round along with the official ringside judges' tallies:

Jordan Breen scores the round: 10-10 (30-27 Sanchez)
TJ De Santis scores the round: 10-9 Guida (29-28 Sanchez)
Loretta Hunt scores the round 10-10 (29-29 Draw)

Judge Patricia Morse Jarman turns in a 29-28 scorecard for Guida. However, judge Glenn Trowbridge scores the bout 29-27, and Nelson Hamilton scores the bout 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Diego Sanchez.

Reasonable people can disagree, but I have no earthly idea how one scores this fight for Guida. Be that as it may, I saw this round for Sanchez as he did damage standing, stuffed takedown attempts and was much closer (albeit still not that close) with the kimura and armbar attempt. Guida also landed some shots standing and rode on top for a decent portion of the round after claiming top control from Sanchez's modified back-take. Sanchez did briefly have Guida's back and at least attempted a modified RNC for a short time before conceding position, but I admit it wasn't close. So, again, from full guard we are in a 50-50 scenario. Who did more damage, positionally controlled and came closer to stopping the fight? I'll give Guida some points for keeping Sanchez flat on his back, but unlike the Danzig fight where Danzig was trying to get back to his feet and therefore allowing Guida to be the wrestling aggressor and back tacker, Sanchez was willing to fight from the bottom. And from bottom he did an excellent job of nullifying the offense Guida possessed. Guida was never really able to stand and rain punches. He was forced to use hammerfists and a handful of short elbows while fighting off submission attempts/posture control.

As a recap, I do concede one can make a case for Guida taking the second round although that's not personally how I would score it. But to suggest that over the course of the fight Clay Guida was robbed is not supported by the evidence even if we don't give Sanchez a 10-8 round. However, it is also clear that scoring this fight is actually quite difficult and there are myriad ways to parse what happened. It's also a reminder that there needs to be some sort of guidelines or criteria for what does and does not constitute a 10-8 round. The sport and its fighters deserve no less.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale coverage

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