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Helping Jeremy Stephens Dissect What Went Wrong at UFC 119

The results from UFC 119 pointed up one the painful realities of  MMA events.

Fights can go to the judge’s cards, and those decisions can be controversial if not downright infuriating.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you’ll loudly declaim that “the fix was in.” If you’re a manager, you may opt for the “they don’t like my man” argument.

Is it the scoring system that’s to blame?  The fighter for not putting on a dominant performance or finishing?

Quite likely, it’s a little bit of both.

The real solution lies with a willingness on the part of the parties involved to consider changes to the system.

In the bad old days of combat sports, at least in New York State, fight cards were not judged or decided at all. That’s right, state law prohibited judges decisions entirely. Fight fans were left to grab the morning papers to consult the columns of the various writers on the beat to settle their bets and arguments. It was thought that this system would prevent corruption.

It didn’t.

It just brought the newspapers into the game, and they played by the same rules. The dirtier elements of the fight game were simply extended to the Fourth Estate.

I have a little proposal I like to put forward.

Live scoring. Display the judge’s take after each round, live. In addition, I’d love to see a system similar to Compustrike (and I’ll bet they’d love to provide it) displayed live as well.

Lightweight Jeremy Stephens was the unfortunate victim of the latest of these controversies , dropping a split decision to Melvin Guillard. Stephens seemed clearly to be ahead in the fight right up until the moment the result was announced.

“I pushed forward the whole fight, dropped him a couple times, and I never got hurt or put on my back,” Stephens said following the fight. “I wish he came to stand in the middle and fight. Regardless, I won.”

Jeremy Stephens Post-Fight Video Blog:


  • Rece Rock says:

    I think live scoring and displaying the results round by round may be a positive move for the judges but I think it will negatively effect the fighters drive and pace… if your absolutely positive you’ve won 2 rounds why would you be overly offensive in the 3rd round?? and like wise if a fighter feels he won the round but the judges scored it differently then it may discourage or enrage him and effect his mindset going forward and emotionally distract him/her… My point is it will change the sport not just in means of judging but also the fighters mind set and emotions.

  • Rece Rock quit readin my mind! And secondly, I think this one was close enough to go either way and I was really pullin for Lil Heathen. If we really wanted a head scratcher, I’d say we should try and figure out how Evan Dunham didnt win those last two rounds per two of the judges

  • Dufresne says:

    I personally would like them to do both a round based scoring and an overall scoring simultaneously. Use the total fight scoring as the main criteria, but if the damage done and overall control were pretty close use the round by round as another method of breaking it down to see who dominated more frequently.

  • Sumoninja says:

    I don’t see what the controversy is with the Stephens fight. He landed a big punch to open the fight and a decent combo near the end, but the rest of the time he was swinging at air and getting picked apart. I can see how you might say he was moving forward the whole time, but that was because that’s how Melvin wanted him…following the movement. He wasn’t in charge, for sure.

  • MCM says:

    I’ve been trying to work out exactly what the main problem with judges is, and as best as I can tell, it’s that there is no clear definition of what “Winning” is. There is when fighters finish each other, but we don’t need judges for that. I want to know what a ring side judge is looking for in determining who wins a fight?

    -Is it inflicting Damage? If that’s the case, then Sherk easily won his fight and bleeders like Forrest would never take a Dec. victory.

    -Is it Dictating the Pace? If that were so, Clay Guida would have 4 extra wins on his side.

    -Maybe it’s Octagon Control? Although this seams the most likely, it still leaves open questions like…”If a wrestler and BJJ practitioner are fighting and the BJJ guy pulls guard, is that considered a takedown?” or “What happens when a fighter in top position but spends 3 min fighting off sub attempts, is he still in control?”

    I think we need a definitive answer/goal as to what the fighter is trying to achieve in the cage. When one fighter finishes another it’s clear who wins.

    Perhaps it should be that if you do not finish your opponent the fight ends in a draw. Although this would severely handy cap fighters like Jon Fitch who clearly dominate their opponents but don’t finish them, and would make it much harder to rank fighters with so many “draws” on their records, it may also force fighters to develop and attempt finishes with more frequency. It would also take away any controversy in close fights like we saw at 119.


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