2014 – And The Winner By Split Decision...
I used to be much more of a casual MMA fan, I really only paid attention to main card fights and ignored the prelims. It was a simpler time that I now miss, because I had to go and get involved with the BECW. Once I had imaginary points to earn and my non existent pride to defend on an almost weekly basis, I suddenly had to make a much greater mental investment in my MMA fandom.
And because I was now picking winners for entire cards, I noticed a strange trend developing this year in how more than a few fights were ending.
NOTE: Don't worry, this isn't another post about the BECW (though you really should sign up), I'm just setting up where and when this snowball got rolling.
There has been a significant number of fights ending in a split decision this year. And I'm not talking about a few here and there, I went through every single card held over the last 11-12 months and the number is a bit staggering.
It all started with UFC 171, my very first BECW event ever. I don't remember which fights they were, but I picked three of them to end via SD, I only got one of them right though. However, by coincidence two different fights on the same card also wound up being SD's as well. I didn't think I was onto anything or picked up on something no one else did, but I just filed that little nugget of information away for later.
As the months wore on and the cards clicked by one by one, every time there was another split announced, I kept a little mental checklist running in my head. And now that the year is almost over, what started as a mental footnote has grown into something that has forced me to do something I utterly hate and despise. And that's working with numbers.
Despite being the son of a CPA, I'm terrible with numbers. I don't like them and they don't like me. Number crunching drives me crazy like trying to untangle a 500ft strand of broken christmas lights does. I can't remember phone numbers to save my life. If you offered me a million dollars to do long division, I'd have to walk away a poor man.
Basically, me not math do gud.
So please understand the pain and suffering I had to endure to bring you this fanpost.
I went all the way back to UFC 168 as my point of origin since it was their annual New Years card. And from there I slowly worked my way forward, card by card, counting the fights and keeping track of the split decisions as they came.
As of this writing, the UFC has held a whopping 43 events so far with 4 more set to take place before the end of the calender year. I'm going to list each card, how many fights took place that night, how many SD's were handed out, and to which fighters they went to.
#01 UFC 168 - 11 Fights - 0 SD's
#02 UFN 34 - 10 Fights - 0 SD's
#04 FOX 10 - 11 Fights - 1 SD Benson Henderson def. Josh Thomson
#09 UFN 37 - 9 Fights - 0 SD's
#15 UFC 172 - 10 Fights - 0 SD's
#16 UFN 40 - 13 Fights - 1 SD Chris Cariaso def. Louis Smolka
#22 UFN 43 - 10 Fights - 1 SD Gian Villante def. Sean O'Connell
#26 UFN 45 - 11 Fights - 0 SD's
#27 UFN 46 - 10 Fights - 0 SD's
#28 FOX 12 - 12 Fights - 1 SD Bobby Green def. Josh Thomson
#31 UFN 49 - 10 Fights - 0 SD's
#33 UFN 50 - 9 Fights - 1 SD Rafael Natal def. Chris Camozzi
#40 UFN 55 - 11 Fights - 0 SD's - The first all finish card in history
#41 UFN 56 - 10 Fights - 1 SD Cláudio Silva def. Leon Edwards
#42 UFC 180 - 11 Fights - 0 SD's
If my math is correct (and don't hold me to that), we've seen a total of 467 fights take place this year and 53 of those were split decisions. That's 11% of all fights. Out of 43 events, only 9 of them didn't have one take place. That means 79% of all the events had at least one SD handed out.
That's a bit insane isn't it? Someone please tell me I'm not the only one to notice this.
I don't think there's a conspiracy or anything going on here. I know that with the breakneck schedule the UFC set this year and plans to continue in 2015, there's going to be an increase in splits simply because the number of fights taking place is rising. And if I really thought something was afoot, I'd track down the judges for each event and see if there was a pattern developing.
That being said, there are a few names that popped up more than once. Dustin Ortiz was involved with 3 SD's in a row this year. Josh Thomson lost back to back SD's, and has 3 SD losses in his last 4 fights. Then there are guys like Bendo and Sanchez, they both have only a single SD win this year, but they both have a history of being something of a magnet for them in years gone by.
It seems the old saying of "Don't leave it in the hands of the judges" will become more and more applicable as time goes on.