Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren
won a controversial unanimous decision
over Marcos Galvao on Saturday night in Yuma, Arizona, with all three judges seeing the fight differently than nearly every member of the MMA media saw it.
Particularly surprising about the decision was that judge Chuck Wolfe scored the bout 30-27 for Warren: Not only did Wolfe score the first and third rounds for Warren, as did his fellow judges, but Wolfe also gave Warren the second round, even though almost everyone else watching thought that round was decidedly Galvao's.
Although Wolfe declined to go into a detailed blow-by-blow account of the second round, he defended his scorecard and his decision, saying on Tuesday morning that he thought all three rounds in the fight were close, and that in close rounds, something relatively minor can be the difference in a 10-9 score.
"It could be one takedown different, it could be one punch different, it could be one kick different, it could be one attempted submission different," Wolfe said.
Wolfe said he wasn't aware that his scoring of the fight had caused a controversy in the MMA community, and he said that as a judge he can't be concerned about how fans or the media view his decisions. He also said that his background as a professional kickboxer and his knowledge of MMA gives him insight that surpasses that of the average fan watching at home.
"I've judged and refereed since the beginning of the sport, I've been head official for over 600 different bouts," Wolfe said. "If you want to question my credentials, I think I have way more than anyone out there to be qualified to judge. I know fans get disappointed, but I don't think you're going to have Joe Warren fans complain about how the decision went."
Wolfe acknowledged that Galvao landed some significant strikes in the fight, but he said nothing Galvao did was enough to justify giving him any of the three rounds.
"Did he damage Warren in that fight? Yeah, he did, for a short period of time," Wolfe said. "I remember the bout very clearly. When they are close rounds there's one thing or maybe two things that might put someone ahead. ... You can grade it 10-10 but you might as well not be there if you're not going to score someone to win the round."
Bellator promoter Bjorn Rebney said after the fight that he found Wolfe's 30-27 score for Warren hard to understand, but the judges work independently of the promoters. Bellator 41 took place at a resort owned by the Cocopah Indian Tribe, and Wolfe and the other judges were hired by the Potawatomi Athletic Commission. Wolfe noted that the tribal commission follows the standard procedures employed by state athletic commissions, including telling the judges to watch the fights with their naked eyes. Judges are not provided with TV monitors, which means they're seeing the fight from a different vantage point than the fans at home.
"There are a lot of things that a fan will cheer about outside the cage, but each judge has a different viewpoint and a different angle," Wolfe said. "Unfortunately, judges don't have a replay, don't have a rewind, they just have to judge by what they see."
Ultimately, Wolfe said, if Galvao isn't happy with the decision he should look in the mirror, not at the judges.
"He had three rounds to take Warren out if he really wanted to beat him -- he had three rounds to dominate Warren, as well as Warren had three rounds to dominate him," Wolfe said. "It's up to the fighter. ... Don't leave it in the hands of the judges, especially when it's a close fight."