For sometimes valid, sometimes overstated reasons, judging is a constant cause of criticism in the MMA world. We've seen many a fight where the guy who walked out of the cage with a smile on his face after being awarded a decision seemed to be the one who took the most lumps during the course of action.
Other times, the outcry isn't so warranted. And yet other times, terrible mistakes are ignored altogether. Take Saturday night's UFC 120
fight between Mike Pyle
and John Hathaway
, for instance.
During the second round, Pyle schooled Hathaway in one of the most obviously one-sided stretches of 2010. For the final two minutes of an already-strong round, he had Hathaway trapped in an inverted triangle that effectively functioned as a crucifix. For two minutes, Pyle pounded on Hathaway's face without obstacle. Yet when the judges scorecards came in, it was scored a 10-9 round. Say what?
It is a lucky thing that in the end, the round score hardly mattered. Pyle dominated from start to finish, and earned all three rounds en route to a unanimous decision. There's only one problem here: judges aren't fortune tellers, and they can't assume that just because Pyle won the first two rounds convincingly, that he was going to comfortably win the third.
You may argue that since the judges didn't score round two a 10-8, Hathaway had no chance or earning one on his own even if he thrashed Pyle around for five minutes, but what if there was a foul involved that made it a 10-8?
More so, there's just a general principle involved: give the round the score it deserves. While people only rail about who does or doesn't get their hand raised, judging is ultimately about five minute blocks of timing, and accurately assessing each round as its own separate entity.
When a fighter dominates action to the extent Pyle did (74-9 in landed strikes, according to Compustrike
), he deserves a 10-8.
What more could he have done to deserve it?
In fairness, the criticism of judging often goes too far, and sometimes it practically stretches to hysteria. With subjective analysis, there will always and forever be room for disagreement.
Fans watch events slickly produced to give the best possible viewing experience, with the best angles to watch the action as it unfolds. Judges watch at cageside with only their eyes to watch what's in front of them. If a referee gets in the way, if a competing fighter blocks what's happening, if the action takes place on the ground and on the other side of the cage, we wish them luck and hope they get it right when the commission officials come by literally five seconds after the round ends to collect the scorecards.
They don't have time to reflect on what they just watched or see a replay on the big screen. It's a snap decision.
But that said, Pyle-Hathaway round two had nothing challenging about it. For over two minutes, one man imposed his will on the other, landing hard shots that seemed destined to finish the fight at any time.
Luckily, the scoring mistake didn't cost Mike Pyle anything, but it could cost someone else in the future.
If you're a fan and you ever want to watch a 10-8 round, that was it. And if you're a judge, your job is hard enough, but sometimes even when you get it right, you get it wrong.