2013, like another year, featured a lot of debatable decisions from MMA judges. We all know that people see the same things differently and that when fans cry "robbery", most of the time it was just a close fight and the competitor they sided with didn't come out on top. But let's face it, there were some absolutely horrible decisions this year too. Denying that would be dumb.
So what were the worst ones of the bunch? Whenever you want to know anything about judging, you turn to one place - MMADecisions.com. This is one of my favorite websites because I'm a stats nerd, and they posted an article on their blog yesterday looking at the 23 most disputed decisions of the year. They do use special criteria for their list, which might mean a fight you'd include didn't make it. But it's pretty fair and balanced overall.
Here's how it works. The site takes score submissions from MMA media (such as myself, might as well get that out of the way now) and they also let fans submit their scores. For a fight to make the list, at least 6 media members and 10 fans had to submit scores, and 60% of each had to disagree with the official decision. Pretty simple, right? So there were seven fights where not a single media member agreed with the judge's scorecards:
Diego Sanchez vs. Takanori Gomi - UFC on Fuel TV 8
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham - UFC on FX 8
Godofredo Pepey vs. Milton Vieira - UFC on FX 7
Phil Davis vs. Lyoto Machida - UFC 163
Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef - UFC on Fuel TV 9
Dennis Bermudez vs. Max Holloway - UFC 160
Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks - UFC 167
Obviously the last one is the one that stands out most to fans. While all of the other six featured 9-13 media member scores, GSP vs. Hendricks featured 16 (including Fightmetric). Every single one gave Hendricks the fight 48-47. It should be noted that 25% of the fan scorecards gave it to GSP though, as opposed to a low of 10% (19 of 192 overall) for Sanchez/Gomi.
There are three other fights where the media vote was below 10%:
To be fair on two of those, most of the media scored them (Boetsch/Dollaway and Bermudez/Grice) a draw.
There are also some interesting notes about how well judges performed in these fights, and in 2013 in general:
Controversial fights seemed to follow Sal D'Amato around in 2013, as he was a judge in seven of the 23 fights on this list. In five of those contests, his scorecard sided with the winner of the fight. D'Amato was clearly the year's busiest judge in high-profile events; he rendered decisions in 54 UFC fights, more than double all but one judge.
Perhaps the judge that did the best job at avoiding controversy in 2013 was Chris Lee. Next to D'Amato, he rendered the most UFC decisions (30), yet didn't score any of the noted controversial fights for the winner.
You can check out the rest of the 23 fights they have on the list at their blog, which includes the media and fan percentages and who judged each fight as well. I highly recommend it.