It's coming: a fanpost about judging. A fanpost that will probably piss you off. No, I'm not going to propose a "solution" to the judging problem. All the solutions on the table are wrong, and worse than doing nothing. Half point scoring puts more power and unpredictability into the hands of judges who are already wrong too much. More 10-8 rounds is the same. Tied rounds will just encourage judges to refuse to make tough decisions when they ought to be made in close but not even rounds. MMA fighters have not proven to be better judges; see Ricardo Almeida who was immediately forgotten as the solution to the problem in the first event he judged because he scored pretty much as current judges do. This fanpost will be darker than that. I believe that now we're in the judging shit, it's time to roll in it. Hell, lets wallow.
So here we go: the worst decision of last night was not the wrong one made in the Holloway/Bermudez fight. It was the correct decision made in the Pyle/Story fight. How the hell can that be?
Holloway should have been given the nod against Bermudez. The takedown in the second never should have swung that round after Holloway controlled the majority of it on the feet, and Dennis proved completely unable to find an answer to Holloway's range. Giving Dennis the nod was criminal judgement, but it was the right choice for the sport.
Giving Mike Pyle the win against Rick Story was the right thing to do. Mike Pyle controlled the second round. He won the fight on his feet and then won the fight on the ground, putting Story in trouble over and over with his jiu-jitsu. Story may have been on top, but he mounted literally no offense over the course of that part of the fight.
That said, Story should have won.
Because as bad as judging in MMA is, it has settled into a kind of consistent and predictable bullshit. Dana White may frequently opine that you can "never leave it in the hands of the judges." But as wrong as the judges are fight-wise in choosing Bermudez for his takedown, sport-wise it has presented MMA with the kind of consistency that it needs. Context is more important than the events therein; I would rather see consistent and wrong decisions than unpredictable right ones. When fighters are unsure how the fight will be judged, they can't ever go into a fight knowing how they should behave. Expectations are important. Awful expectations are better than no expectations. Not having expectations is unfair to the fighters.
When the unified rules of MMA established rounds and a 10-point must system, MMA ceased to be a fighting event and made an important step toward sports. As John McCain put it, MMA "grew up." It was a sport: an event with rules and expectations. It was an event where you don't have to fight until someone begs for mercy or is put unwillingly into a state of insensibility. We as watchers accepted that the Gracie's dream of no rules unlimited time matches were a pipe dream. Some kind of way of establishing a winner within a reasonable time frame was needed.
Is the 10-point must system perfect? Gods no. But it's a necessary evil. Is judging rounds primarily by who was in the top position the right way to tell who won a fight? Of course not. But lets be honest with ourselves: we knew who should've gotten the nod in the Pyle fight. Everyone expected Rick Story's hand to be raised. He may not have impressed, but he fulfilled expectations. He stayed on top and defended Mike Pyle's attacks.
I'd like to head one more argument off at the pass before it becomes the main criticism of my post. If you are arguing for fighters having the chance to win from the bottom, you're not doing it because you think it's unfair to jiu-jitsu guys. You're doing it because you find wrestlers to be boring. Lest you forget, even under ADCC rules (the gold standard for submission grappling), wrestlers have been able to lay and pray their way to the top before. Mark Kerr did it and he's not alone. Even in gi jiu-jitsu matches, in order to count as a submission attempt, the standard is much higher than most MMA fans realize. You don't get to call it a triangle attempt just because you threw your leg over a guy's shoulder and crossed your ankles. You have to lock it up and attempt to finish. Crossing ankles is not a sub attempt in spite of forcing the other fighter to play defense. Jiu-jitsu guys know this.
So what am I really getting at? MMA became a true sport the day they established judging criteria. As much as we may dislike those criteria sometimes, it is better than judging remain consistent than it is that they occasionally get it right and punish a fighter who might bore us but ultimately did the right thing by way of expectations.
Come at me, bros.