When the UFC Austin main event bout ended, the judges awarded Josh Emmett a split decision victory over Calvin Kattar. While the fight was a close one, there was one judge who drew the ire of those following the fight and commenting on social media. That judge was Chris Lee and the round in question was the fourth, which he awarded to Emmett by a score of 10-9.
For background on the “Scouring the Scoring” series and details on the review process, GO HERE.
After the fight, both competitors took umbrage with the scoring. Kattar said, “I thought I was landing the better shots but I’m not a judge. So it went the way it did but I thought I did enough to win the fight.”
As for Emmett, he thought he earned a clean win, “I thought I won four [rounds] to one. I had four to one. At least three to two and when they went split [decision], I was like. ‘come on!’ But it worked out in my favor.”
With questions surrounding Lee’s scoring of Round 4 — judges Doug Crosby and Sal D’Amato gave that round to Kattar — I did a deep dive into the action in that round and I fall on the side of Crosby and D’Amato.
According to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts here is the scoring criteria:
“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.
According to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation:
Judges must evaluate mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, fighting area control, and effective aggressiveness/defense. Using the 10-point must scoring system, judges use a 10-point must scoring system to determine a winner of a contest that ends after the scheduled number of rounds have been completed. Ten points must be awarded to the winner of each round 9 and 9 points or less must be awarded to the loser, except for a rare even round, which is scored a 10-10.
What I saw in that round, breaking down each of the striking exchanges in slow motion, was that Emmett didn’t land many clean shots. His punches were “bigger” as far as effort. energy and appearance, but they did not have any immediate effect on the outcome of the fight. In fact, most of Emmett’s strikes were at least partially blocked by the guard of his opponent.
Kattar also had few strikes that had immediate effect on the outcome of the fight either, but he had some and they landed clean.
Most of Kattar’s landed strikes were jabs. Those jabs accounted for some damage over the course of the round as Emmett’s face looked worse at the end of the stanza than it did at the start, but with 1:34 left in the fourth, Kattar landed the first of three strikes that had an immediate impact on the fight. The first of those blows was a spinning elbow that landed without obstruction. A few seconds after that, Kattar landed a crisp one-two that staggered Emmett.
When judging the round (and here I’m going to consider both the Unified Rules and Texas Rules), Kattar’s jabs had more cumulative impact on the fight and those three big strikes he landed had more immediate effect. With that, Kattar had the more effective striking (there was no grappling to judge).
Kattar did more damage over the course of the five minute fourth round. As for fighting area control, I awarded that to Kattar because he controlled the fight with his jab and higher output.
Kattar’s defense was much stronger that Emmett’s thanks to his high boxing guard. Kattar absorbed fewer clean strikes and his guard deflected most of Emmett’s power shots.
As for aggression, that’s about the only area where Emmett might have earned the nod, but the criteria says effective aggressiveness and throwing big punches that miss, which Emmett did a great deal of, did not meet the standard of effectiveness.
After watching the round back with an eye on the scoring, I just can’t find a way to award it to Emmett. Judging from the criticism I saw on fight night in the aftermath of the UFC Austin card, I don’t think I am in the minority when I say that Chris Lee got that round wrong.