Controversial judging mars excellent UFC Phoenix main event

BY Elias Cepeda • December 13, 2014

Poor judging has a way of tarnishing great fights. Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic fought the type of close, hard-hitting and gutsy fight that raised both men's stock and satisfied all fans.

No matter which fighter one thought edged out the other in this five-round war, as the two men awaited the judges' official decision post-fight, any reasonable person would have likely had to expect that the winner did so in a narrow, albeit impressive manner. Instead, two out of three judges bizarrely gave dos Santos credit for winning four of five rounds against Miocic.

One judge more reasonably saw it as three rounds to two for dos Santos. None of the judges scored it as this writer did, three rounds to two (with the first, second and fifth going to the part-time fireman) for Miocic.

No fan of Miocic could have complained if the judges thought the former champ squeaked it out over the underog. And no honest fan of the badly battered, bleeding and swollen-faced "Cigano" could have cried foul if the judges would have marked a close win for Miocic.

Instead, no one wins because two judges got it very wrong. Such a lopsided decision for dos Santos denies credit to the underestimated Miocic, who fought the fight of his life and beat Junior worse than anyone short of Cain Velasquez has.

Such a decision will also attract undeserved scorn for dos Santos, who fought, as always, with ferocity and incredible heart and conditioning, and got a strangely gift-wrapped set of scores. It would be easy to blame Arizona judges and the athletic commission there.

After all, this was the UFC's first trip to the state. However, bad decisions and bad scores know no boundaries in MMA. The norm among judges in all states is officials who have never practiced what they are watching and who have little experience even watching the sport of MMA and are simply holdovers from kickboxing and boxing.

Just last week, one judge had the strange vision to score the UFC 181 main event in Las Vegas for Robbie Lawler by a score of four rounds to one. This writer scored the fight for Lawler, but to think that anyone won four rounds in that very close contest with Johny Hendricks would take some very partial lenses.

Hopefully, dos Santos and Miocic both feel pride in their performances tonight. Hopefully, the UFC also rewards them richly for providing such amazing action in the main event of a big FOX card.

Unfortunately, because of two poor judges' scorecards, Miocic will feel a little more cheated than he deserves to, and dos Santos will likely have to defensively answer more questions and criticism than he should. 

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