Adjudicating The Sport Of MMA; A Collision Course Between Statistics And Nepotism

By: Patrick Courtois

Our intro to the New Year courtesy of UFC 195, was met by a strong card headlined by an explosive Robbie “ruthless” Lawler vs. Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit, head to head. The undercard was a convincing showcase of battle hardened warriors who fought valiantly, making what most fans and pundits thought would be a lackluster card, into a resounding success.

This brings us to the perplexing and evermore irritating judging decisions that have plagued the UFC of late with irrational, senseless scoring. Nowhere was this more apparent than at UFC 195. The card was chock full of inconsistent calls, favoritism and plain disdain for impartial record keeping.
Most fans and media outlets had the bout going to Condit.

Let’s look at the outrageous scoring by a cadre of buffoons; in particular Judges Derek Cleary and Chris Lee who tallied their scores 48-47, Lawler. Judge Tony Weeks is exempt from this rogues gallery, as his final score of 48-47 Condit, was justifiably consistent with what most present at the event, and the millions watching worldwide, conclusively and collectively agreed was a win for TNBK.

It behooves this scribe to attenuate the impact that such malfeasance in judging may have long term, on an immense pool of MMA talent. Shady scoring must always be partnered with public outcry and pointed accusatory diatribe, if need be. Accountability and fairness, must always challenge disparate and incongruent elements. Then, and only then, can change foment a climate awarding due diligence, the requisite rewards.

Here is a breakdown of how each Judge saw it on their card:

Judge Cleary: Judge Lee: Judge weeks
Lawler—–Condit Lawler—–Condit Condit—–Lawler

9 10 9 10 10 9
10 9 10 9 9 10
10 9 10 9 10 9
9 10 9 10 10 9
10 9 10 9 9 10

card 195


How the above makes any sense will forever be inexplicable.

Suffice to say that even amidst Condit’s insinuation at retirement, the monstrous heart both fighters displayed, coupled with superhuman showcase of talent and raw determination and tenacious brute ferocity, will undoubtedly present a mouthwatering opportunity for a monumental trilogy. If nothing, the UFC has been expert at fashioning matchmaking trilogy dream bouts. The potential exists for a Lawler/Condit conflagration of epic proportions.

There’s no denying that Robbie Lawler 27-10-1, is a beast with immense KO power. He possesses a chin from Hell that takes punishment however it’s handed, and spits it back out with aplomb.
Johnny “Big Rig” Hendricks 17-3-0, who figures prominently in Lawler’s cross hairs, had slowly been working his way up the ranks to Welterweight title contention against George St- Pierre, 25-2-0. But at UFC 167 in 2013, he lost the bout in a highly controversial split decision, though it was practically and universally agreed that big rig won the fight. As luck would have it, on December of that same year, GSP announced that he would be exiting the sport for an indefinite amount of time. Dana White would have none of it, he promptly vacated the title and put the belt up for grabs. He then announced that Hendricks would vie for the title against Lawler on March 15, 2014 at UFC 171. The bout was an incredible back-and-forth slugfest that won both fighters huge accolades. Hendricks would pull out the win convincingly and unanimously, and grab welterweight Gold for his effort.
December 6, 2014, UFC 181 was the date set for a re-match between these two titans. Though the big rig started strong, he soon tired and became sluggish, ultimately losing the belt to Lawler, via split decision. Lawler went on to defeat Rory Macdonald in 2015, at UFC 189, leading us to his current skewered win over Condit.

Carlos Condit comes at us with an impressive 30-9-0 MMA record and technical equanimity born from years of honing his craft. BJJ– Brown Belt– Kick Boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and Boxing feature strongly in his arsenal of weapons. Flying knees, slicing, dicing and cutting elbows are his entrée’s and when he serves up the main course via RNC, knees, triangle chokes, TKO’s and punches, you’d be force fed whether hungry or not. This is the ability which helped him defeat Nick Diaz at UFC 143 in 2012 for the Interim welterweight belt.

Does favoritism leech into judging criteria? We think it must to some degree, though no judge would ever admit to such scandalous an accusation. However the evidence presents itself with more frequency these days, eliciting calls of “fix”, or ‘set-up”.

The last thing any promoter or fan wants to witness is a call so bad that it sets social media alight, and questions the quality and impartiality of judging officials. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is not controlled by or beholden to UFC brass and as such, does not feel the need to entertain any considerations regarding scoring or judging. Is it possible that some judges have fighters that they prefer, and will attempt to push ahead? Very real probability.

Can judging truly be quantified statistically, by the number of punches thrown, significant strikes, moving forward, setting the pace, being on the offensive, and take downs? The answer is an emphatic yes! In fact that is the only way to truly profess objectivity in score keeping. It is a virtually fool proof system, in that if a fighter—Condit in this case—lands 198 strikes out of 504 thrown, to Lawler’s 78 out of 177, with what mathematical formula does Condit lose?

In this case, statistics and math were not the rigueur du jour. Which leaves partisanship as the stink that permeated an otherwise monster fight. Judges Cleary and Lee were oblivious to the developments before them.

We’ve always said that to dethrone a champ, a challenger must overwhelm him or her in the most fantastic and devastating way possible. That nothing must be left to chance. That judges must be made to have no choice, but to score in one’s favor. Well, Condit did exactly that and was nonetheless robbed.

Here’s hoping a trilogy is in the works.

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