The UFC is walking a fine line right now. Several recent UFC fights have gone the distance. Unfortunately for the UFC and its fans, the judges have picked some questionable winners. In the last few weeks three big UFC fights were marred by bad decisions. Could the one of the biggest sports in the world be in danger of losing its fanbase?
One of the biggest reasons in the decline in boxing over the last two decades is integrity. Fans started to question the integrity of the sport after some very questionable decisions. Whether a boxing or UFC promoter tells you one way or the other, there is always a winner that is better for business. Fans can get past one or two bad decisions, but any more and fans will start raising eyebrows and spending their money and their time elsewhere.
UFC judge Cecil People said the following after the Rua-Machida fight. “Mauricio Rua was being aggressive but it wasn’t effective aggressiveness which is what we as the judges look for when scoring a fight. The way I saw it, Lyoto was landing the more cleaner and damaging strikes throughout the fight – if you take a look at the judging criteria clean strikes are valued more-so than the quantity of strikes landed. Although Rua threw a lot of low kicks they were not as damaging as Lyotos diverse attack in the earlier rounds which is why I scored the first three rounds for Machida. You have to keep in mind we always the favour the fighter who is trying to finish the fight, and leg kicks certainly don’t do that.” – Cagepotato.com.
That is just insane! If leg kicks aren’t considered “effective strikes,” than what exactly is the definition of an effective strike in the mind of a UFC judge? All you need to do is look at the bruising of a fighter’s leg that has been on the receiving end of leg kicks to see how effective the strikes are. Heck, Forrest Griffin destroyed Rampage Jackson with nothing but leg kicks and got a decision win. People’s explanation of his scoring makes absolutely no sense and that is not good for fans who pay $50 to watch a UFC event.
This ugly story reared its ugly head again last week on The Ultimate Fighter. Roy Nelson won a two-round decision to advance over Justin Wren. While I do think that Roy Nelson won the second-round, I can’t begin to fathom how he won the first one. Wren peppered Nelson with shots, did more damage, and pushed the fight in the first round. If there was any fight that needed a third round on this show it was this one. Roy Nelson won and UFC fans are really starting to hate him. The bad news here is that millions of fans tuned in to see this and may likely not tune in for the rest of the season.
The decision in the Saturday night between Randy Couture and Brandon Vera may be the worst decision yet. An objective MMA observer could make a case for both Lyoto Machida and Roy Nelson in their fights. However, I can’t comprehend how even the biggest Randy Couture fan could defend that decision. Randy Couture winning the fight is a joke in itself, but getting a unanimous decision win is just insanity! Not only was Brandon Vera robbed, but the fight probably should have been stopped in the second round. I certainly don’t believe that the UFC is fixed, but Couture’s win in England will certainly boost the argument of the MMA conspiracy theorists.
So in the last month alone, the UFC has had their last three high-profile matches end on questionable judging. There is only so much good will that the UFC will have until their fans start to feel like they are getting ripped off. Thanks to boxing, MMA will always have their skeptics. I have heard more and more from people who think they “told me so” and point to these decisions as to why they think the UFC is worked. I don’t believe it is worked, but I can see where a skeptic would start to get that idea. What happens when your loyal fan base gets tired of this? They look elsewhere for entertainment, just like they did with boxing over the last 20-years.
I don’t know what you do if you are the UFC? Hell, at this point you would be better off picking a UFC or MMA fan to judge fights. Do you come up with an entirely different point system? I really don’t know what you can do without the interpretation that they are trying to influence their fights. Dana White loves to continually kick boxing and question their credibility in interviews. Dana White is on the verge of having the same problem if he doesn’t come up with some kind of a solution. All it will take is for one or two more UFC fights to end with a bad decision for the bottom to fall out. It doesn’t matter whether it is Anderson Silva vs. Lyoto Machida or Brock vs. Fedor, if the fans question the integrity of the shows, they will stop paying to see them. It is really that simple.
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