Anyone that follows sports has probably heard the line, "The best referees are the ones you don't know." While officials are a necessary evil of athletic events, the hope is they do their job, stay out of the way and don't do anything to get noticed. The NBA's refs? Not so great at this.
You've read enough about bad judging and bad stoppages in the last few years to fill several repetitive books and this column isn't going to be about that. But after hearing that somehow the judges' scorecards for the Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall fight at UFC on FX 2 were misread and thus a fight that should have been a draw wasn't announced as such, a simple question has to be asked.
It's 2012 and this is actually an issue?
If you're new to the party, Johnson and McCall fought in a bout where the winner moved on to get a shot at the newly created UFC flyweight title. As it was a mini-tournament, both guys agreed to a sudden death round if the scorecards were locked after three rounds. The goal of that, of course, is to eliminate the possibility of a draw and have a decisive winner. Cue irony horn.
It was a close fight and when the cards were read, Johnson was announced as a majority decision winner. However, that wasn't the case. Sal D'Amato gave two 10-9 rounds to Johnson and one 10-8 to McCall, a 28-28 tie, read as a decision for Johnson. Kon Papai had two 10-9s for Johnson and a 10-9 for McCall, a correctly read 29-28 for Johnson. Anthony Dimitriou had a 10-9 for Johnson, a 10-9 for McCall and a 10-10 draw for a 29-29 draw, incorrectly read as McCall winning.
It wasn't until the post-event press conference that the issue was brought to light with Craig Waller of the New South Wales, Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation taking full responsibility for not compiling and relaying the correct information. That's great and all, but why didn't D'Amato or Dimitriou say something immediately when their scores were being read? Is there a system of double checking? Simply put, how does this happen?
Look, I understand that people make mistakes but this is simply dumb. The UFC now has to figure out when to rematch these two, thus delaying plans for their title fight by months. Flyweight finalist Joseph Benavidez now has to wait longer because of the error. Johnson thought he won and was then told he didn't, which is bad. People are talking about commission work Saturday instead of in-cage action. Fans were robbed of what would have been a great fourth round. It's sloppy all the way around because a system wasn't in place to prevent this.
I know I'm asking a lot, but I hope the Association of Boxing Commissions takes note and is proactive in making sure these types of issues don't happen in the U.S. Move to an electronic method, have several people in place to ensure the scoring is received and read accurately and have the judges actually listen to make sure the scores are being read correctly. It sounds like a lot, but Friday night proved that apparently some people need more help than others.
However, the chances of any ABC change are as likely as the antiquated MMA scoring system suddenly correcting itself. Food for thought: how often do you think there are errors that we don't hear about, either with addition or otherwise?
I stand corrected on an earlier statement as there was one winner in all of this: McCall, who will get the chance to avenge what many perceived as a bad decision to begin with. If there's one guy who is happily twirling his mustache today at how this all turned out, it's "Uncle Creepy."