Maldonado vs Pokrajac is a fight that I feel presents an interesting judging challenge, as both fighters can make credible claims to having been the victor.
I intend to set out how I judged the fights, and am interested in how other people viewed the result.
Below is how I saw things.
Before I begin, it is important to note that, for the purposes of this discussion, you do not have to stick with the approach of the Unified Rules. If you have a separate philosophy concerning what wins a fight, then you are encouraged to expound it here.
My personal method for judging fights rests on one criterion - damage. My chosen concept of attaining victory in a fight considers only the harm that is inflicted upon the opponent. Others, who perhaps place emphasis on the martials arts aspect of MMA, may be more likely to also consider control as inherently beneficial due to the conrtol-over-damage ideaology of several notable martial arts.
I, however, view takedowns and positional ground control not as offense, but as a set up for future offense, namely ground and pound or submissions. To me, they are not an attack, but rather a mechanism that enacts positional transition.This is just my personal viewpoint, please disagree with me in the comments!
The main reason that I believe the offical judges scored this round for Pokrajac is because he spent around half of it on top of Maldonado. While here, he consistently attempted to pass guard, and landed a smattering of ground and pound. The judges probably saw this as meritorious because the Unified Rules value Effective Grappling (and it was effective at keeping Maldonado on his back).
But, is it not arguable that the escape of Maldonado required as much skill, and was just as effective, as the relative stalemate of Pokrajac's control? Negating the grappling advantage?
Regardless, I do not value control, but do give Pokrajac a very minor advantage at this point due to the ground shots that he managed to land.
After a period of inactivity against the cage, Maldonado lands a heavy counter at around 4:28, and follows it up with a tremendous flurry of short shots. These are evenly spread between Pokrajac's head and body, and inflict greater damage than the ground shots which had landed previously.
These blows are not hugely damaging, but do seem to have a noticablee impact on Pokrajac. Florian even remarked that one particularly nasty left hook "buckles him (Pokrajac) a little bit". Pokrajac does land a couple of knees, which narrow the scoring gap, but Maldonado's body onslaught gives him the advantage at the end of the round.
I score this for Maldonado on the basis on his well landed punches. I can see the case for Pokrajac winning under the criteria of the Unified Rules, but do not feel that such a score fairly represents the outcome of the round's action.
The first significant action of round two consists of Pokrajac landing a solid left hand lead, followed by several more significant punches. He then pushes Maldonado against the cage for some time and lands a good knee to the head. He is clearly winning the round at around the mid-point.
Then Maldonado reverses him and begins throwing many strikes from the clinch. Like Maldonado's punches from the first round, they are thrown with little wind up and at speed. Both the body and head are targeted. This goes on for a minute, and could arguably take the advantage from Pokrajac and give it to Maldonado.
I see the round as equal at this point.
The fighters exchange mostly blocked shots, and then Maldonado takes Pokrajac down. There are only ten seconds left in the round, and he does nothing from top position.
I score this round 10-10, but would perhaps give a very slight edge to Maldonado.
The first two minutes of round three are contested on the fence, with the most damage being done by a Pokrajac flying knee, giving him an advantage at this stage, but not one built on much.
The fighters are then broken up, and both land. Maldonado's punches appear to be less damaging, and he is distinctly shaken around by those of Pokrajac. The action returns to the cage, and the advantage remains with Pokrajac because of the jolting effect of his punches.
As the fight enters its final minute, both men attempt to land some effective blows, and who gets the better of this exchange is unclear. It is a case of Maldonado's volume against Pokrajac's more signnificant looking strikes.
I feel that Pokrajac remains dominant, as his shots simply seem to be inflicting greater damage throughout.
Final Score: 29-29 Draw
Unsatisfying, perhaps, but representative of just how close the fight was.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about the way I scored this fight, please post your opinions on the outcome in the comments.