UFC 208: Officiating, Judging Flaws Exposed During First PPV of 2017

The poor officiating and judging from UFC 208 dominated the competition from the matches we saw. It was a bad night for the NYSAC.

If you didn’t spend money on a ticket nor buy the pay-per-view for UFC 208, you did yourself a favor. There were very little highlights from the event and plenty of boos throughout the night from the crowd in Brooklyn, New York.

The post-fight narrative was filled with the controversial scoring and officiating from the judges and referees in multiple matches. Some of the head-scratching results have fans crying for rematches.

The UFC was hoping for an exciting and historical moment to take place as Germaine de Randamie was crowned as the first ever UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion. But many are questioning de Randamie’s win over Holly Holm.

At the end of the second and third rounds, de Randamie jabbed Holm in the head after the bell and received firm warnings from referee Todd Anderson each time, not taking a point away from de Randamie. De Randamie attempted to strike Holm with a combination after the horn sounded at the end of the third round, and one of the shots landed.

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“Take a point away!” UFC announcer Joe Rogan said during the pay-per-view. “You’ve got to take a point away!”

De Randamie was not penalized by Anderson nor by any of the judges as she took home a unanimous decision win with all three scores reading 48-47.

In her post-fight press conference, Holm referred to de Randamie’s late hits as “intentional” and called them the two “hardest shots” of the fight. UFC President Dana White held no punches back. In his interview with Megan Olivi of Fox Sports 1, White said that Anderson should not officiate a main event.

Several UFC fighters tweeted during the main event for UFC 208, showing their displeasure for how the fight was being handled.

In the co-main event between Anderson Silva and Derek Brunson, Brunson appeared to have dominated at least two rounds. After the match and before the official decision was announced by Bruce Buffer, Silva’s body language showed that he accepted defeat, even raising Brunson’s hand after the match.

But when Buffer announced the scores from the judges’ scorecards, it was 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27, all in favor of Anderson. Brunson took to Twitter after the fight, claiming that he got robbed.

Don’t take it from us. A UFC fan tweeted a screenshot of the statistics of the fight. Brunson had better numbers than Silva in control, total strikes, significant strikes and takedowns. Silva was only in control of the bout for 11 seconds.

Dustin Poirier picked up a majority win over Jim Miller to start off the main card for UFC 208. The scorecards for that fight left some questions as to how the judges scored this fight. Poirier earned scores of 30-27 and 29-28. However, one judge scored it a draw, 28-28. Although the draw from one judge did not have a significant impact the match, it is unclear why all three judges had three different scores.

MMA Fighting reporter Ariel Helwani wrote an interesting tweet after UFC 208, saying that an explanation from judges and officials would be helpful and help us understand why a fight ended or scored the way it did. If a judge or referee can’t provide a logical explanation for a controversial decision, then that judge or referee should be held accountable and not be allowed to judge or ref a big event, such as events UFC, Bellator, WSOF or any other major promotion.

While bad calls are common in all of sports, some end up impacting a match in a big manner, hurting a team’s record and possibly playoff chances. In MMA, fighters could find themselves falling in the rankings and out of a title picture.

The UFC officially announced on Saturday night that it will make its first visit to Kansas City, Missouri, which is also the first visit to the state. However, the Missouri State Athletic Commission has been in the center of controversy for a couple of events in the past few months with Invicta FC and WSOF.

At Invicta FC 21 last month, Celine Haga choked out Amy Montenegro right before the end of the second round. However, referee Greg Franklin did not notice until after the horn sounded.

This past October during WSOF 33’s preliminary card between Magomed Magomedkerimov and Bobby Cooper, Magomedkerimov won by split decision. He earned a pair of 30-27 scores, yet one judge scored it 29-28 for Cooper. It makes no sense how two judges can score it 30-27 for one fighter, yet a third judge scores it in favor of the other.

Later during WSOF 33, a pair of controversial officiating left fighters angry. Luiz Firmino lost to Brian Foster by submission via triangle armbar. But Firmino believed that Foster illegally kicked him while he was a downed opponent. Firmino walked up to referee Mike England after the match to confront him. England can be heard on the broadcast responding to Firmino’s complaint, telling him the kick went over the head.

Jason High competed later that night against Joao Zeferino in the co-main event. Zeferino landed a big shot and unloaded with a plethora of strikes while High appeared to be working his way back up to his feet. But referee Marc Wasem stopped the fight early, giving Zeferino a TKO win.

At the end of the two controversial endings, both Firmino and High bolted out of the cage and went backstage before the official decision could be read.

As mentioned earlier, bad calls occur in every sport. However, in a sport like mixed martial arts, an early stoppage or not taking a point away when necessary can hurt a fighter’s placement in the rankings, or even put a dent on a fighter’s chance at a title shot. In Holm’s case, she lost a title fight when de Randamie should have been penalized one point, in which the fight would have ended in a draw.

It is uncertain what is discussed behind closed doors to try to improve from officiating and judging flaws. It is up to White, who is the president of the biggest MMA promotion in the world, to let athletic commissions know that they should feel guilty for how judges and referees negatively impact a fight. If a stable fighter’s union is created, this the union could address as well.

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