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Scouring the scoring: Matt Brown disagrees with judges in Bryan Barberena fight

A deep dive into scoring the second and third round of Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena

Matt Brown was miffed with two of the judges who scored his recent fight at UFC Columbus against Bryan Barberena.

“I definitely thought I won,” Brown said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “I think the common consensus was that I won, and then these judges they just — what are we gonna do, right?”

Two of the judges, Michael Bell and Eric Colon, scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Barberena. Bell and Colon gave Brown round 1 and Barberena the second and third. Andrew Adkins scored it 29-28 in favor of Brown, awarding Brown rounds 1 and 3.

Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena scorecard
Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena scorecard

Since Brown brought up the idea of “common consensus,” the MMA media members scoring the fight via MMA Decisions were overwhelming in awarding the victory to Barberena. Fourteen media members had the fight scored at 29-29 for Barberena. Two scores were even at 29-29, four had Brown winning 29-28 and there was one 30-27 in favor of Barberena.

With Brown’s criticism hanging in the air, it’s time to blow the dust off “Scouring the Scoring” and look at the second and third rounds of the welterweight fight that went down on March 26 in Brown’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

For background on the “Scouring the Scoring” series and details on the review process, GO HERE.

The first thing one needs to do in scoring a fight is mute the commentary. Biases can seep into commentary and even worse, the UFC commentary team often provides incorrect information as to the scoring criteria, which can influence those who hear it. The second thing one needs to do is get familiar with the prioritized criteria in MMA scoring — especially the first criteria, which is “effective striking/grappling.”

Effective Striking/Grappling

“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. Successful execution of takedowns, submission attempts, reversals and the achievement of advantageous positions that produce immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute to the end of the match, with the IMMEDIATE weighing more heavily than the cumulative impact.”

It shall be noted that a successful takedown is not merely a changing of position, but the establishment of an attack from the use of the takedown.

For this, the newest edition of “scouring the scoring,” I have added the “who would I rather be at the end of the round” criteria. This is not an official scoring criteria, of course, but I have heard it mentioned more than once in meetings were MMA judging has been discussed.

Round 2

The first big strike of this round came 22 seconds in, when Brown landed a powerful kick to the body. Barberena followed up with a nice right hook to Brown’s head. Barberena then kept busy with kicks to the legs of his opponent. These kicks were not damaging, but they landed. Brown then scored with a body punch with 3:52 left in the round. That blow set up a takedown, but Brown did not do much on the ground other than land a couple of short punches to Barberena’s head before Barberena got to his feet. Once standing, both fighters landed elbows in close.

The most significant strike of the round came with 2:19 left on the clock. That’s when Barberena landed an elbow that looked like it hurt Brown. Brown temporarily retreated after the elbow and went on defense, but being the veteran he is, he landed a takedown before Barberena could do more damage on the feet. The takedown allowed Brown to recover, but he did not mount any significant offense from the ground. In fact, once Barberena slipped out the back door, he landed some elbows to Brown’s head and body punches on the ground, several of which were immediate scoring blows thanks to the distance he put between himself and Brown when throwing the blows.

When the fighters got back to their feet, both fighters landed scoring strikes in the final minute of the round.

Who would I rather be at the end of Round 2: Bryan Barberena

Round 3

Brown landed more strikes in the third round, but those blows seemed to lack a great deal of power. Yes, they were scoring, but the effect of the blows was more cumulative than immediate.

The two then exchanged some elbows in close before Brown hit a foot sweep takedown, but like the takedowns he had in Round 2, he didn’t mount any damaging offense off the technique. Once Brown and Barberena got to their feet, they again exchanged elbow strikes in close before going back to clinch fighting.

When the two broke the clinch, with about 2:35 left in the round, Barberena landed with volume that forced Brown out of striking distance, but he did not stay out of the fight for long and the two went back to exchanging blows fairly evenly.

With approximately two minutes to go in the fight, Barberena’s striking output was higher than Brown’s. Brown then landed a takedown with 1:45 left in the round, but did not mount any offense and Barberena got back to his feet and attacked his opponent with strikes against the cage.

The difference in the final 90 seconds of the fight was that Barberena attacked with more volume. He was throwing more combos and landing, while Brown was mostly throwing single strikes.

Who would I rather be at the end of Round 3: Bryan Barberena

My thoughts

This was a very close fight, but it was not a robbery.

At the end of the second round, Brown’s corner told him he was up 2-0 and I can understand why they said that and why Brown, upon rewatching the fight, thought he won the round. However, the elbow that staggered Brown was the blow that made a significant difference in the round and remember what the criteria says, “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.” If the round was even, the immediate effect of that blow was enough to give Barberena the nod.

I scored the second round 10-9 for Barberena.

The third round was again a close one, but I think Barberena triumphed when considering this portion of the scoring criteria, “Legal blows that have immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute towards the end of the match.” Barberena’s strikes, especially as the clock wore down, had much more “potential to contribute towards the end of the match.

I score the third round 10-9 for Barberena.

I also believe the damage Brown was wearing on his face influence the scores and it’s not out of the question that Brown’s body language worked against him in this fight as he looked like the more compromised fighter, especially in the third stanza.

Brown might disagree and the crowd in Columbus, who were clearly on their fighter’s side, might also not like it, but the judges got this one right.