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Can Belal Muhammad get some respect? - Six unanswered questions from UFC Vegas 51

Can Belal Muhammad get some respect and five other questions from UFC Vegas 51

What’s the future look like?

There were several fighters on the UFC Vegas 51 fight card who entered the event with promotional losing skids. Some of those fighters probably saved their jobs with wins at the UFC Apex. Others might find themselves worrying about their future with the promotion. The following fighters each picked up their third consecutive UFC loss on Saturday:

Miguel Baeza (3)

Wu Yanan (3)

Kevin Croom (3)

Can Belal Muhammad get some respect?

With his win over Vicente Luque in the main event of UFC Vegas 51, Belal Muhammad is on a 7-0 (1 no contest) run and he’s likely to be in the top-five when the official UFC rankings get updated early this week. Prior to his win over Luque, Muhammad’s detractors could point to his recent wins over aging fighters Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson as a reason not to believe in Muhammad. His unanimous decision win over the 30-year-old Luque should put that talk to rest.

Muhammad deserves his ranking and he merits some respect for what he has achieved in the 170-pound division over the past few years.

Muhammad critics can quibble about his style, but they can no longer disparage his achievements.

How do you score leg kicks?

During the broadcast, Daniel Cormier — former two-time UFC champion Daniel Cormier — asked “How do you score leg kicks?” The answer is the same as one would score any other strike.

Per the scoring criteria regarding “effective striking:” “Legal blows that have immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute towards

the end of the match with the IMMEDIATE weighing in more heavily than the cumulative impact.”

There is no separate subheading for types of strikes. A strike is a strike is a strike.

Why the focus on “control time”?

I didn’t count how many times the UFC commentators mentioned control time when discussing the scoring of the UFC Vegas 51 bouts. If one searches for control time on the scoring criteria, that phrase will not be found. Further, “control time” is not a part of the “effective grappling” criteria.

Perhaps the commentary team was referencing “fighting area control,” which is the third and final section of the prioritized scoring criteria, but that seems like a stretch because that is defined as “determining who is dictating the pace, place and position of the match.”

It needs to be emphasized if that is what the commentary team means when they mention control time, they need to realize that “fighting area control” only comes into play as far as scoring when “Effective Striking/Grappling and Effective Aggressiveness is 100% equal for both competitors.”

As the scoring criteria states, this particular criteria “will be assessed very rarely.”

Who gets to define accidental?

Speaking of Cormier, he absolutely got things right when he called out referee Dan Miragliotta for ruling two illegal strikes as “accidental.” The first of those blows was the elbow that Martin Buday landed against Chris Barnett. The second was the knee that Caio Borralho struck Gadzhi Omargadzhiev with. Both strikes were fight ending blows, but since Miragliotta decided they were unintentional, the fights went to the scorecards instead of ending via disqualification.

Cormier did not like Miragliotta’s ruling one bit.

“Listen, so you’re told the rules in the locker room, right?” Asked Cormier. “They say the strike’s unintentional. But everything you throw in there is with intent, so how do you call it unintentional and you don’t disqualify? Now I’m not saying disqualify Borralho or disqualify the guy earlier (Buday), but everything you throw is with intent to finish the fight. So how do you call it unintentional?”

It’s not the referee’s job to get in a fighter’s mind. It’s the referee’s job to call the fight by the rules. The blows were illegal and should have been ruled as such. Miragliotta dropped the ball.

What’s a first ballot UFC Hall of Famer?

While introducing his co-commentators for the UFC Vegas 51 fight card broadcast, Brendan Fitzgerald referred to Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz as first-ballot UFC Hall of Famers. Fitzgerald’s comment gave me pause. It seems strange to refer to UFC Hall of Fame ballots, because there are no published ballots for the UFC Hall of Fame. In fact, all we really know about the voting process is that Dana White leads it. In short, it sounds good to say first-ballot Hall of Famer regarding the UFC Hall of Fame, but it’s a meaningless phrase that attempts to impart importance to something the UFC itself decides on. The reality is the UFC Hall of Fame is the equivalent of a player getting their jersey retired or their name in a “ring of honor” at a stadium. It’s purely symbolic. And yes, it bothers me a bit that the UFC wants to make it seem like it’s some type of an independent entity that is voted upon by someone other than UFC employees.