Judging in mixed martial arts is one of the most heavily scrutinized aspects of our sport. It isn't uncommon for bad judging to completely take away from the impressive performances over the course of the evening, but that's exactly what happened last night at UFC 123. Quinton Jackson earned himself a split decision victory of Lyoto Machida, but you wouldn't know it from his reaction when his hand was raised. He was just as surprised as anyone else who felt Lyoto Machida won definitively.
I'm not here to tell anyone they were wrong in what they saw. It was clear that the first two rounds were nearly impossible to score due to the narrow strike counts and hesitance from both fighters to mix it up. What I do know, however, is that the idea that a round must be scored in favor of one of the two fighters is a tired judging methodology that must die now.
Judging is obviously a subjective process, and the objective rules that are put into place are simply guidelines for those judges to interpret in whatever manner they choose. The problem, however, is that there isn't a significant amount of elaboration as to how Octagon control and aggression should be scored. Personally, Octagon control is worthless in determining the outcome of a fight. If I were controlling where the fight took place, yet taking damage from my opponent -- a judge would score that round in favor of my opponent.
Aggression works in the same capacity, and the third round of Gerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcao was a perfect example of giving a round to a guy who was much more aggressive while his opponent didn't produce any offense. I can get behind that type of scoring, and I can certainly see the benefit of using that piece of criteria to score rounds in favor of fighters imposing their style on their opponent.
It's a bit disturbing to hear fans throw out Octagon control and aggression as definitive measures in scoring a fight. Those pieces of criteria are at the bottom of the list, folks. The very bottom. And they didn't mar the UFC 123 main event split decision. No, we can leave that up to the ancient judging trio of Blatnik, D'Amato, and Hamilton.
Outcomes of bouts shouldn't come down to counting minuscule differences in how many strikes were landed between two fighters. This isn't the Olympics, and mixed martial arts isn't a sport that can be determined simply by point fighting tactics. Unfortunately, it seems that the judges completely forgot about one specific tool in their arsenal that would have made more sense than picking a winner of each round. It's called the draw.
While I would probably give Jackson the edge in round one, round two was a draw, plain and simple. The fight, overall, was a draw. And it disturbs me to sit down and watch a card like DEEP 50 and see better judging than an entire year's worth of horrible decisions here in the United States.
Out with the old and in with the new, that's what I say. While this decision was far from highway robbery, it's just another log on the fire of discontent from fans. Use the 10-10, and if Joe Silva decides to scream at you, like he did Dan Miragliotta following the Falcao/Harris bout -- I'll support a campaign to bash the involvement of promoters trying to influence officials. For now, I would just like to see some consistency and competence.