Leading up to last night's UFC on Fox 9 event, California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster made the following statement regarding the assigned judges for the card:
Just met CSAC's Andy Foster. What a breath of fresh air. He said no judge on Saturday is anything less than a purple belt in BJJ.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 12, 2013
Theoretically it was good news, as the general assumption has been that most judges are incapable of deciphering who is "winning" when a fight becomes a grappling battle. However, last night's most egregious judging error had nothing to do with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and had everything to do with the refusal to hand out 10-8s for dominant rounds.
Danny Castillo absolutely ran through Edson Barboza in round 1 of their eventual "Fight of the Night" performance. He badly hurt him with a hard right hand, had the Brazilian staggered just 1:49 into the fight, and spent the remainder of the round actively looking for the finish whether by TKO or submission. Barboza gamely survived (and was fortunate not to lose a point due to two fence grabs), and ultimately won a majority decision.
According to FightMetric numbers, Castillo landed 48 total strikes (41 significant) to Barboza's 5. He wasn't credited with a knockdown but did take him down when he was wobbly and went to work from there. Castillo had a deep rear-naked choke he was unable to finish, and the only offense Barboza mustered up after the initial punch that hurt him was a heel hook attempt that Castillo easily maneuvered out of.
Judge Derek Cleary scored the opening round a 10-8 for Castillo, but Michael Bell and Wade Vierra both saw it 10-9. It ultimately cost Castillo what several media members and fans believed was a 28-28 draw.
The only variable here is whether or not Barboza's dismantling of Castillo's lead leg and actual recorded knockdown merited a 10-8 of its own, and while it's definitely quite conceivable to score it that way, Castillo's round 1 performance was far more dominant and close to a fight finish than Barboza's 2nd round.
It's fitting that this fight boiled down to judges refusing to award 10-8 rounds when earlier this week Mr. Foster discussed (among various things) the current scoring system, with an emphasis on 10-8 and 10-10 rounds. Per the UFC's official website, this is the definition of a 10-8 round under the unified rules of MMA:
"a round is to be scored as a 10-8 round when a contestant overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round."
Castillo dominated both striking and grappling, and there is no way I can see otherwise that it wasn't a 10-8 round. UFC analyst Joe Rogan even said "that's a 10-8 round" before the round even concluded, yet 2 of the 3 judges jotted down 10-9.
I'd argue that this isn't even the worst instance of poor judging this month. Ryan Bader pummeled Anthony Perosh for 15 minutes at UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane, Australia, and the FightMetric numbers indicate it was one of the most one-sided beatings of 2013. Perosh was credited with ONE total strike in round 3 while Bader landed 61 (22 significant), just about all occurring on the ground, where Bader improved his position a total of 10 times over the course of the fight. Statistically, a 10-8 was justifiable for literally all of the rounds.
What was the end result? Two 30-27s and a 30-26 where the 10-8 came in the 2nd round. Not a single tracked media member scored 30-27, and only two managed 30-26. Completely and utterly unacceptable, laughable, and downright incompetent.
Every time questionable judging is highlighted, the immediate question that pops up is whether or not the 10 point must system is not suitable for MMA. I think the 10 point must system is fine, the judges are the problem. No system can work if the execution is poor. Dominant, lopsided rounds need to be scored as such, and yet we have seldom seen 10-8s regardless of whether the fight is 3 or 5 rounds.
Danny Castillo should've come away with a draw instead of a majority decision loss. Should he have been able to finish Barboza when he had the chance? Absolutely, and that's the 2nd time in a year he's failed to finish a badly hurt opponent (Michael Johnson - UFC on FX 5) and ended up on the losing end, but judges Bell and Vierra failed to do their job effectively and it greatly affected the outcome of the fight.
- UFC on Fox 9 salaries: Demetrious Johnson and Urijah Faber top earners
- UFC on Fox 9: Johnson vs. Benavidez results: Winners and losers
- Dana White: Urijah Faber is in this Vitor Belfort zone right now
- UFC on Fox 9 results: Cody McKenzie shorts snafu embarrasses Dana White
- Dana White: UFC didn't keep Georges St. Pierre out of UFC 167 post-fight presser, thought he was going to hospital