For a short time Saturday night, Wikipedia had the result of the UFC Fight Night co-main event in Albuquerque listed as "Diego Sanchez def. Ross Pearson (robbery)."
Who says you can’t believe everything you read on the internet?
It was pretty much accurate, most had to admit. In the three-round fight, Pearson landed more overall strikes 51-33, and at the higher percentage, 41 percent to 24 percent. He had the fight’s only takedown. He had the fight’s only knockdown. He was the cage general, slowing down Sanchez’s normally breakneck pace. The brawl Sanchez always initiates? It didn’t happen because Pearson was too professional, too polished.
And his reward? Heartbreak.
"It just sucks. I’m hurting right now," he said in the event’s post-fight press conference. "I believe that I lost half a paycheck. The judges here, they don’t lose half a paycheck, and I feel I’ve been robbed, you know?"
Yep, there was no win bonus for Pearson despite what most felt to be a winning performance.
It’s difficult to quantify the degree of larceny involved here, so maybe these numbers will help: FOX Sports scored it for Pearson 30-27. The scoring database MMADecisions.com collected 14 other media scores for the bout; all 14 scored it for Pearson, and 13 scored it a clean 30-27 sweep. The other one had it 29-28. A total of 98 percent of fans scoring the fight on the site had Pearson winning, with 85.1% scoring it 30-27.
In other words, this was an overwhelmingly one-sided fight. The dissenting voices among all the unity were Jeff Collins, who inexplicably scored the fight 30-27 for Sanchez, and Chris Tellez, who had it 29-28 his way. Marcos Rosales was the lone voice of reason, with a 30-27 scorecard for Pearson.
Sanchez, of course, agreed with the decision, but few fighters will turn away a gift like that. Still, it was telling that he called Collins’ 30-27 scorecard for him "ridiculous." After all, he was knocked down and taken down in the second, not exactly a winning formula.
Collins is a fairly experienced judge who was once selected for a UFC championship bout in Nevada, where he scored the Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar featherweight title matchup at UFC 156 48-47 for Aldo. As best we can tell, this was the first major event for Tellez. It would be nice to hear either or both explain their scores.
This is the second straight trying result for Pearson, who took an illegal knee against Melvin Guillard last time out that finished his fight in a no contest.
As usually happens in situations like this, a few voices came out to form a chorus and sing that old fight night favorite, "Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges." As though we shouldn’t demand some level of consistency, proficiency and accountability from the people judging them.
That phrase has become more than a platitude; it’s a crutch, excuse and insult, all wrapped together.
It’s not easy to judge in real time, with no statistics in front of you, but there has to be a better way, or at least a more fair one. How can 98 percent of the world see one thing but it not be accepted as true? Even in criminal court, you only have to meet the threshold of "reasonable doubt." In this scenario, we’re practically removing doubt altogether.
So Pearson flies back home with a blemish on his record and a wallet with some extra space. It’s unfair and unjust, and it’s probably going to continue to happen, only because none of the commissions seem to be too interested in fixing the problems that exist in officiating.
Let Diego Sanchez enjoy his moment in front of his hometown fans. After all, it’s not a problem he created. All he did was go out and fight, but we all know that the wrong guy is celebrating. Sanchez didn’t win that fight. Not by a long shot.