Showdown on UFC: MMA needs to change

August 12, 2012, 5:05 PM

With every UFC event that takes place there are many constants.

There are winners and there are losers and as history has taught us far too many times before, inevitable controversy surrounding the judges’ score cards is akin to the sun rising and setting every day. It’s going to happen, and it feels like there is nothing anyone can do about it.

But there is.

The UFC 150 main event between lightweight champion Ben Henderson and former champ Frankie Edgar went the distance. It was predicted as such, so the three judges who were tasked to score the bout likely knew what they were in for. The issue is, as we’ve seen far too many times before, was that their tallies were nearly the complete opposite of one another. One score card read 49-46 for Edgar. The other two 48-47 for Henderson. That’s one judge seeing it 4 rounds to 1 for Frankie, while the two others saw it 3 rounds to 2 for Benson.

Subjectivity. That’s what many will conclude was the difference, but it goes far deeper than that. The discrepancy between the scores is too wide of a margin for subjectiveness to be the final verdict. Few are advocating the commission in Denver to review the results, but tell that to Edgar. For many, including the vast majority of fans who watched the event and the media who observed as well, the New Jersey native was given the raw end of the deal. And there is also a group that is steadfast in their belief that in two bouts against Henderson, Edgar is 2-0. Instead, his official record shows two defeats.

I’ve voiced my opinion on matters like these far too many times and unless true changes are made to the athletic commission selection process regarding those who sit cageside to judge an MMA bout, this will continue to happen. The answer is judging certification under an accredited course listed by the Association of Boxing Commissions. No man or woman should ever be tasked with judging (or officiating) an MMA contest unless they can prove they understand the many nuances that make up a prizefight.

If this sport wants to be respected like the other big ones, it has to act and conduct itself like the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL. Can you imagine the firestorm if any of these major sports had officials (and judges) that were not qualified to do the job, yet were tasked to oversee the Superbowl, World Series, Stanley Cup finals, or even the finals of the FIFA World Cup? It would never happen, but in MMA that is the norm. It’s an accepted practice while everyone turns a blind eye.

This includes the majority of media, fans, fighters, their representation and the promoters. Many who cover this sport have never truly dug deep enough to see what the real issue is with judging in MMA. For them, it’s as simple as inserting former fighters, when in fact, if Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Pele or Dan Marino were asked to ref their respective sports, I can virtually guarantee you they could not do an adequate job. To be an official or judge requires thorough certification.

How fighters and their representation do not ask WHO has been tasked to oversee their scrap BEFORE they engage in competition is beyond me. Their lives, careers and paycheques are at stake, but they trust in the almighty system, that all will be fine. As the old saying goes, “those who cannot learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

At some point, the Edgars and Hendersons of the world, and their managers, will one day question the UFC and athletic commissions long before they sign on the dotted line. Nearly 20 years into this young sport, it’s baffling that this practice is not standard procedure.

As for the promoters, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and all the way down to the grass roots, regional live event producers, they should question the commission. For the UFC, before they decide to visit a city, part of the discussion ahead of time is to determine who is the commission with license on the evening the big show hits town. If the commission cannot prove that ALL the officials and judges have been certified, then the deal is on hold. Prove that there is competence in the state or province, and you then have a deal.

But the other issue is that most commissions, under the Association of Boxing Commissions are rogue entities. The ABC can set a standard, but it is not mandatory that its members follow it to the letter. In the end, each region makes its own decisions. Hence the reason why I believe the promoters, like the UFC, should only work with those who follow the standards set forth by the ABC. By doing so, it can also promote consistency across North America. And when fans cry that the big show is not coming to their area, the organization can simply point to the fact that the safety and well-being of its fighters is priority number one, and that the commission in said area provides a dangerous playing field, one the organization will not entertain doing business with.

Mind you, none of this should take away from Henderson, who proved yet again, he is not an easy man to defeat. His skill set is a sight to behold. I could watch him compete every day as his style often has the initiated holding their breath while the unitiated are often breathless when his explosiveness results in a thunderous strike landed.

A trilogy bout is not in the works, I for one hope it will take place one day. While Bendo will now deal with Nate Diaz next, what’s next for Edgar is the unanswered question many are pondering. Should he go to 145 pounds, or remain at 155 pounds? He was once promised a title shot, should he drop down to featherweight, but that was taken away by Dana White last night. Either way, no matter what he does, the MMA world cannot wait to see one of New Jersey’s favourite sons return to the Octagon soon.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

—Donald Cerrone’s defeat of Melvin Guillard was intense. Cowboy will likely face Anthony Pettis next: #Awesome

—Jake Shields was succussful in his UFC middleweight debut defeating Ed Herman. Those who booed the fight, go to a gym and #LearnSomeMMA

—Yushin Okami’s victory over Buddy Roberts was his first since 2010. He needed that, as it will now boost his #Confidence

—Max Holloway, Dennis Bermudez, Erik Perez and Chico Camus were all victorious. #NewBlood in the UFC.

—As for Nik Lentz’s impressive featherweight debut, I was #Impressed. But let’s see how he deals with the speed at 145 pounds as he moves up the ladder

—Side Note: it is expected that heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will rematch Cain Velasquez, likely on Dec. 29 in Vegas. #HappyNewYear

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