If you’re of a certain age, you remember the introduction to ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The second sentences of that voiceover is famous — “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” The moment Bruce Buffer read the scores for the main event of UFC Vegas 57 was a perfect encapsulation of those words.
As Buffer announced that the judges had unanimously decided on a victor, Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan flanked referee Jason Herzog in the the center of the octagon. Herzog held the left arm of Tsarukyan while also grasping the right arm of Gamrot. The fighters each held their free arm aloft as Buffer announced Gamrot as the victor.
Tsarukyan’s right arm dropped and his hand fell to his head before sliding to cover his eyes. The 25-year-old sunk to his knees. The announcement he had lost seemed to strike him harder than any of the blows Gamrot landed during the 25-minute contest. At the same time, a look of exhilaration crept across the face of the victorious Gamrot before he screamed in joyous celebration.
The third sentence of that Wide World of Sports intro is not as famous as the words that precede it, but it too seemed to fit the way the fight played out. That sentence is, “The human drama of athletic competition.”
The bout between Gamrot and Tsarukyan had a great deal of drama. The fourth round of the fight was one of those moments. That seems especially true in hindsight, because it seemed as if the results of the fight hinged on those five minutes. With that, I did a deep dive into the scoring of that round, which all three judges — Sal D’Amato, Chris Lee and Ron McCarthy awarded to Gamrot.
For background on the “Scouring the Scoring” series and details on the review process, GO HERE.
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.
I believe the scoring of this round hinged on two things. The first is the perceived difference between body strikes and head strikes. Twelve of the 13 significant strikes that Gamrot landed were head strikes. Tsarukyan mixed his strikes. He landed nine head strikes and seven body blows. If visible damage is what the judges are looking for, well, the head and face are almost always going to show more damage than the body. However, that doesn’t mean judges can ignore body strikes. A well-placed body blow can end a fight and even if those strikes don’t cause a stoppage, they can have a cumulative impact on the round.
The second — and more important — thing to consider is how the judges saw the spinning backfist that Tsarukyan landed. The judges do not have replay and are assessing what they see in front of them inside the cage. They have the angle from where they are seated. Watching the fight at full speed and then again slowed down, I believe the judges could have seen the spinning elbow, which was officially scored as generating a knockdown, as a slip or a fall from Gamrot.
Watch the video below for a full breakdown of the entire fourth round:
As Tsarukyan lands the spinning backfist, Gamrot is throwing a body kick with his right leg. I think this is the reason that none of the three men calling the fight for the UFC, Paul Felder, Michael Bisping and Brendan Fitzgerald did not mention the knockdown until they got the chance to watch a replay in their monitors, again, something the judges cannot access.
Felder mentioned that fact later in the round, “Everybody’s got to remember that we looked at that iso shot in our monitors of that spinning backfist, but if you’re calling this live, you don’t have the luxury of that.”
I don’t believe the ground control Gamrot picked up in the round affected the scoring, because he did nothing significant with it other than put Tsarukyan’s leg in an awkward position on the mat.
My scoring for the round was 10-9 in favor of Tsarukyan because his strikes fit the bill of having both immediate and cumulative impact on the round.
With that being said, by no means was scoring the round in favor of Gamrot a robbery, especially if the judges perceived the spinning backfist as a fighter falling from a lack of balance rather than a combatant hitting the deck as a result of a strike.
In the big picture, the lightweight bout between Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan was an incredibly entertaining fight, one where neither fighter should be considered a loser. Both fighters should see their stock rise in the aftermath of their “Fight of the Night” at UFC Vegas 57.