What Good is Top Position...
...when you're getting beaten by the guy on the bottom? Round two of last night's fight between Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida was an object lesson in why top position is not always better. While Guida did maintain top control, he got outstruck 16-3 in power shots to the head, thanks to a bevy of elbows coming from Sanchez on the bottom. Joe Rogan made the comment that those might have been the most effective elbows from bottom that we'd ever seen, but we've seen those elbows used to pretty good effect before. Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter and Kenny Florian vs. Joe Lauzon are some other good examples of the devastating effect of this under-utilized weapon. They very well might be the most effective strike that most fighters will never use.
The scores from the fight show a victory for Sanchez 30-26, though that could very easily be 29-27, as Glenn Trowbridge scored it. Round 1 was a 10-8 round, using our objective criteria (score over 100 and more than 6x opponents' score) and Round 2 goes to Sanchez thanks to his offensive guard. Round 3 is basically a toss-up, which the system gives to Sanchez on damage, but could easily go Guida's way instead.
I gave Guida round two live based on top control and begrudgingly gave him a close round three. After hearing Jordan Breen explain his thought process and reading Bloody Elbow's own Luke Thomas scribe out his thoughts (in addition to the stances of many of our commenters), I warmed up to the idea of 30-26 or 29-27 Sanchez, though I felt he deserved the fight based on his performance in round one anyway.
Hopefully, this fight is part of a growing trend of judges getting over the fallacy that simply being on top or taking someone down is tantamount to winning or controlling a fight. Taking someone down is just that and nothing more. Putting yourself into dominating positions should weigh on a judge's mind. If you can't improve your position, you better be able to land significant strikes from inside your opponent's guard.
Take nothing away from Clay Guida, who showed a ton of heart last night. Unfortunately, holding a guy down without doing much damage for eight minutes of a fight shouldn't overshadow an absolute mugging in round one. Kudos to the judges (the two of 'em anyway) that got this one right.
*UPDATE* Rami e-mailed me and wanted this to get seen:
Saw the post on BE and wanted to see if you'd make a point in the post for me. I'm uncomfortable being called a judge and it's not quite fair to call the scores the FightMetric system puts out a "judgment." We're not claiming to call accurate winners or losers because the system doesn't adhere to the Unified Rules. The scores that come out are ones that measure effectiveness. That means that we're only basing things on what landed. We can't see things like aggression or "Octagon Control" explicitly in the numbers (though they do show up to some degree), so the scores we use to call rounds are not exactly what the judges use to call their rounds. There are definitely examples where we'd be right to call a winner based on our criteria and the judges would be 100% correct to call a winner based on their criteria. The FightMetric effectiveness score is a powerful statistic, rooted in demonstrated MMA effectiveness over 14,000 fights, but it's no replacement for expert human judges.
I mentioned it in the comments, but Rami's not an actual judge. Just a bit of fun with the headline.