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"You Have to Beat the Champ to Become the Champ"

I'm sure we have all heard the saying "You've got to beat the champ" implying that in order to win the belt by decision in a title fight one must beat the champion by more extreme measure than is necessary in a non-title bout. Why would this be the case? The simple fact is that it isn't the case.

This layman's saying somehow implies that in close rounds that we must side with the champion. If this is the case, no matter how you scored Saturday's UFC 167 main event, GSP would have to be considered the winner of round 1, which has emerged as the controversial round in a stunningly close fight (despite what certain fans, promoters, fighters, and media members have suggested).

If we remove this bias which is not part of the scoring criteria, but has become a common saying when title fights go the distance, we find ourselves in a more understanding scenario for the 65%-35% (according Dave Meltzer's poll revealed on this week's The MMA Hour) split favoring the idea that Johny Hendricks has earned the title of UFC Welterweight Champion.

While I personally scored it for St. Pierre as I watched live with friends, the room was almost a 50/50 split of the 8 of us watching. We all went home after without the yelling and anger that seems to have perpetuated most of the MMA culture since the announcement that GSP retained his belt. We all felt Bigg Rigg had come the closest to toppling Rush's rule of the 170 lbs division, and some did feel he earned it, but we all felt privileged to have witnessed a great fight and understood how close the fight was prior to the announcement.

Even if we scored the fight on damage done per round, I'm not sure it would have made a terribly large difference. Georges's face naturally swells and shows damage where I've yet to see Johny's swell so easily. We also saw this in Michael Chandler's rematch with Eddie Alvarez. Most the shots were landed equally however one's face tended to show the damage and the other did not. This does not indicate who won the fight. I'm sure Johny did land the stronger blows, as Geroges said "he hits like a truck," but I'm not sure he was the more effective striker over the course of 25 minutes.

Either way, it was incredibly close and the facilicy that you have to beat the champ is not a viable defense for anyone looking to defend their position of GSP's victory. However the closeness of the decision, which isn't nearly the worst decision we've ever seen (KZ / Garcia 1, Hamill / Bisping, Edgar / Henderson 2, Machida / Shogun 1), leads inherently to the controversy at hand.

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