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Sam Caplan’s breakdown of UFC 78: Validation

UFC 78 is in the books and as the 2007 calendar year draws to a close, I don’t think anyone can make a strong case that the card will go down as one of the better shows of the year. In defense of UFC 78, I don’t think it was a bad card and I don’t think you can find anyone at fault as to why we didn’t get to see more excitement.

It’s not like a movie where you pay money and can critique the execution of how the film was produced. Despite the lack of a strong main event, the matchups on paper were solid. And as I’ve said many times before, this is a real sport and it isn’t scripted. It’s like going to a football game and watching two teams go three and out repeatedly — it’s sport and not theater and sometimes things just don’t come together.

In regard to MMA shows which don’t turn out to be great, there are isolated cases where in hindsight you can hold the matchmaker culpable for putting guys together who have styles that don’t mesh well. But how do you second guess Spencer Fisher vs. Frankie Edgar on paper? The two did not have a bad match last night but I think it’s safe to say it fell way short of expectations. Yes, you had a striker vs. a wrestler but these two guys have been in strong fights this year. How do you predict with certainty that Edgar was going to be able to control Fisher like he did?

And as it turns out, what was the weakest match on paper, Joe Doerksen vs. Ed Herman, just may have proved to be one of the best fights of the night, if not the best. Basically, I don’t think you can fault the UFC, the fighters, the judges, the referees, etc. for the fact that last night’s show was only two stars instead of four stars.

During last night’s card we also saw three fights from the main card go to a decision and I think the judges had the outcomes right. The only issue I have is with the one judge who scored the main event in favor of Bisping (was it an error?). There are some fights where there are rounds that could go either and I end up finding it hard to argue with a judge who scores it a different way than I saw it. However, when it came to last night’s scoring, how on Earth could you have given either rounds one or three to Bisping?

Aside from that one judge, I think last night proved that the 10-point must system works well for MMA. I realize many will disagree with that statement and a lot has been written recently to the contrary, but I haven’t seen anyone suggest a viable alternative. There have been some bad calls this year but any system you use that relies on humans is going to have imperfections. And for the amount of times bouts go to the judges, I think the percentage of controversial decisions is relatively small.

Scoring an MMA match is no easy task because you are combining different styles. How can you introduce a true points system when you have so many fighting disciplines being employed? Is a takedown worth more than a clean uppercut? Is a sweep worth more than a kick to the ribs? A true points system has been used in Olympic boxing to take it out of the judges hands. However, judges are still often needed to decide what punches register points. I remember that at one Olympics they used a computer scoring system but they still needed a human to register the punches into the system. I’ve been to several grappling tournaments now and they employ a points system that is pretty cut and try. There are defined point assignments for certain moves. However, the referee still has to use his judgment for when points should be awarded and there are still disputes.

If you’re not a fan of the 10-point must, that’s fine. But please offer a viable alternative. A lot of alternatives have been offered but none are viable in my opinion. To be frank, I find most of them to be Utopian in nature. Some of them sound good but simply aren’t applicable in a real-life situation.


  • screwface says:

    bisping fought his best fight yet, and rashad fought his worst fight yet. that being said, no way in hell can a judge with eyes score in bispings favor. i personally think that dana white had something to do with that, making it a split decision by influencing one of the judges to maybe create an atmosphere of controversy. like that would hide the fact it was a snooze fest. really boring ufc. houston alexander, maybe next time. but rashad work on your cardio please.

  • Yep, Rashad showed that he’s clearly better then Bisbing.

    I agree w/ what screwface is saying above about the Bisbing decision. Without a doubt in my mind, Dana White paid off a judge. He wanted to livin’ up the party, soda speak. Im not sure if Dana is a moran or what, but he’s going to get caught red handed won of these days and it will ruin the credobility of the sport.

  • garth says:

    while i don’t blame them for putting on an event, or not controlling the future with regards to fighter performance, which i don’t really think anyone does, many many people said beforehand this looked like the weakest card yet. while every event doesn’t get a championship fight, having a #1 contender fight would have made it much more exciting. as it is there was barely a #2 or #3 contender fight in there. ed herman’s lame striking just doesn’t interest me. the fact that he’d battered doerksen to a point where he walked into that loopy punch is more interesting…if joe had done a little babalu on herman, he would have been unconscious before the start of the round.
    the only thing close to a contender fight was edgar vs fischer. do you think white wants yet another wrestler holding the belt? i think he’s trying really hard to manage who wins and who gets title shots, and it’s making the product they sell weaker, not stronger. credibility is just as important, to me anyways, as entertainment. without fans believing that the fights will happen to give the best fighters a shot at the belt, they’ll slide away to other things.

  • DMW says:

    I think that having a fight between Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch some-
    time at the end of this year would have generated a lot of excitement for MMA fans; that it couldn’t have been on this card is a shame. Gsp needs to keep his edge and to fight at the end of this year would make good sense since he will be fighting the winner of the Hughes – Serra fight on Dec. 29th.
    Maybe it is not as hard on him as it is on his fans to have to wait until March or April to fight; still I keep on wishing. . . .

  • Stuart Maclean says:

    can’t believe the decision against Mike Bisping.. not the best fight in the world but never a win for Evans.. he lasted about 4mins before looking gassed!!! he talks a good game but can’t finish!! mountain of tears..yeah right what a pussy!! I’ve climb higher stairs!! think he did one good take down and even that was a waste cos he didn’t do anything after it but spit his gum shield out and dribble on bisping!! if anything it should be a draw but guess in America that was never going to happen… :-) won’t call them cheats but maybe a fix!! muay thai and vale todo all the way bisping..!! rematch against the hammer then kicks evans ass!!

  • Rln says:

    You can lead the horses to the water but you can’t make them fight. 😉

  • Dennis says:

    Sam Caplan , must of been watching a different card then i was? that card sucked and the best of the fights were the PRE-LIMS and that is where most of the bonus money went. Evans has always been a boring fighter he just dont have it. i have been to alot of web sites and they are all saying the same thing as i am -IT sucked, and they charged 40 bucks for this? we better start yelling or we are going to have the same thing again and not only do we get hurt but so does the fighters. that show should of never been a pay-per view – it should of been a free fight card but i think they dana and the brothers are jut looking at dllar signs and not trying t improve the sport. very sad nite of watching

  • Richie says:

    What is everyone going on about ??? No way Rashad won that fight – no stamina at all, agreed he got the takedowns but so what they should not be considered as a winning aspect of the fight when he did f**k all with them. What is the point of taking someone dwon and then sitting on them whilst getting your breath?? Every time they went to ground Bisping got back up, and he sustained no real damage – as such they can’t win Evans the fight!!!

  • Dizzle says:

    dood the evans vs bisping fight was a draw no doubt

    but what goes around comes around for bisping.

    the whole card was boring as fuck. The prelim fights were all way better. I would have actually paid to watch the prelim fights.


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