I'm totally baffled at the arguments that Henderson won the fight. People are describing this criteria that seems to be based on numbers and a revisionist idea of what constitutes "trying to finish a fight", then tripping over their own logic when they try to actually break the fight down. KJ Gould, in his article, claimed that the 1st should have gone to Henderson because his standing arm triangle attempt was a more aggressive attempt to finish than Josh taking Ben down, getting a body triangle, and working from his back for the better part of three minutes. Since when is the most aggressive attempt to finish the be all/end all of who wins a round? How about who actually, you know, won the round? This is MMA; it's about weighing the totality of what took place vs. the question of "did one thing that happened matter enough to win Fighter X the round?" In that case, the arm triangle? Come on. That's just getting bogged down by the weight of your own BS if you ask me. Silly. Anyway, check this out, if you please. It all helps:
Let’s get right to it. That was an awful decision, but surely there must be some sort of important lesson to be learned in there somewhere. Right?
Oh, absolutely. It taught us something so profound and mind blowing that I’m hesitant to even unveil it to you, the unsuspecting reader. Are you ready? Give me a drumroll and a spotlight. It taught us …
*everyone waits with baited breath*
*people almost die from the overwhelming agony of suspense*
It didn’t teach us shit. It simply reaffirmed what we already know, which can be described in three (hopefully not too) long winded bullet points.
1. For whatever reason, judges love Benson Henderson.
I’m not suggesting there’s some grand scheme at work here to somehow make sure Ben Henderson keeps racking up those win bonuses. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, at least not when it comes to this stuff. It’s just sort of true. Since February of 2012, Ben has received 4 questionable judges decisions that ranged from "controversial, but defensible" to "should be criminally investigated by the FBI". He hasn’t quite entered Leonard Garcia territory yet, but I just brought him up in the same breath as MMA’s other all time judges benefactor and you didn’t even blink.
2. Most people thought Thomson won, and I don’t know if I qualify as "most people", but I KNEW the judges would get it wrong. It was just a matter of how badly.
It’s a sinking feeling as an MMA fan, to say the least. Thomson came out of the gate and lateral dropped Benson like a chump, then slinked onto his back, all in the span of about 4 seconds (incredible sequence, by the way). He threatened from there for most of the 1st, got out of a pointless standing arm triangle attempt from Ben (Sure seemed like he didn’t think much of Josh’s skills to try something that brazenly white-beltish), and at the end of the round, picked Ben up and dumped him on his head like he was a younger brother’s younger brother. One for Josh.
Round two was closer, as Ben landed a few nice kicks, but Josh was again able to ground Bendo and take his back. Two for Josh.
The third frame was the only one I felt Ben definitely won. He landed that step in right hand to the solar plexus, a few jabs, and a couple hard knees. This was also the round that, if Josh had gone on to legitimately lose the fight, would have been a perfect microcosm for his career; come out and look great against good fighters, then have something terrible happen to your stupid body. It’s always a small miracle when Thomson even makes it to fight day without consulting with the MMA equivalent of Dr. James Andrews. Broken hand? No problem for Josh this time.
Without boring you with anymore amateurish play by play, Josh Thomson won a competitive fight that wasn’t particularly close. That’s the best possible way I can put it. He showed a consistent ability to put Henderson on his back with technically superb takedowns, and he constantly used these takedowns to advance to dominant positions and threaten from there, all while stifling much of Ben’s stand up offense while landing a fair share of his own. This wasn’t a standup heavy fight, but the other aspects were dominated by Josh. Sorry, Henderson backers: Pressing your opponent against the cage and kicking the back of his leg while landing a few decent strikes isn’t as important as throwing your opponent around and repeatedly threatening to finish him. It’s not an "apples/oranges" argument. It’s more like an "apples/crab apples" argument.
So how did I know they would gift wrap it for Ben? I don’t know. I’ve been watching MMA for too long.
I told my wife this over and over as the scores were being tallied:
Me: They’re gonna give it to Ben. Guaranteed.
Her: Why? If he wins I’m gonna be pissed.
Me: Just watch.
You know what happened next, and my wife and I had a conversation about it afterwards (she isn’t an MMA fan, but I rope her in from time to time). At the end of the discussion, she paused and said "I don’t know too much about this fighting stuff. But it seemed like that guy definitely should have lost."
I thought that was a beautiful statement, mostly because it’s not true. While my wife isn’t an MMA expert, she absolutely knows enough about this fighting stuff to believe what she sees with her eyes, which is more than could be said for those two judges, one of whom is, hang on, wait for it …
3. Sal D’Amato
Look, I harp on this every chance I get, and I’ll be sure to stop as soon as this man stops getting big fight assignments. In other words, I probably wont stop until Sal is in the ground.
Check this out:
G. St-Pierre def. Johny Hendricks 48-47
F. Carmont def. C. Philippou 30-26
C. Camus def. K. Kang 29-28
P. Davis def. L. Machida 29-28
T. Smith def. E. Herman 30-27 (!!!)
U. Hall def. K. Gastelum 29-28 (!!!!!!)
C. Guida def. H. Hioki 29-28
And of course, what might be the most indefensible one of all …
B. Henderson def. J. Thomson 49-46
That’s just in the last YEAR! He’s becoming an international war criminal comparable to the likes of Adolf Eichmann. How many hair pulling decisions could have been prevented without Sal being one of the men at the helm? How does this guy, who so clearly does not know how to properly do his job, keep getting officials to turn a blind eye to his gross incompetence? It just blows me away. 49-46 for Benson Henderson. Even Chase Beebe couldn’t believe that scorecard. What a man, that Sal D’Amato.
I’m done rambling about the main event, and despite all the vitriol you just read, I will not allow that to sully my overall opinion of this card, which had some memorable moments.
For Cerrone, it means he was fighting Adriano Martins. Snipes aside, that was a pretty competitive round before Cerrone bludgeoned him in the neck. Martins showed no signs of shying away from the spotlight, as he confidently landed a few solid combos on ‘ol Clownboy Cherone. He just couldn’t keep the blood flowing to his brain. Getting kicked in the neck can have that effect. Adriano Martins, planking expert.
For Cruickshank, it means that sometimes he’ll get an opponent that makes you wonder why he isn’t fighting Anthony Pettis for the title. Mike Rio was that guy, and he paid dearly for not being more aggressive with his takedown attempts. Just a pummeling. Good slap on that wheel kick, too.
For Nikita Krylov, it means that he is clearly the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter of all time. I made fun of him to no end, saying he was going to get killed, saying he had no skill … without once considering the fact that he was fighting another heavyweight. Way to shit on your own constant argument, right? Geez. Walt Harris is not terrible, and Krylov looked strong and quick. Bring on Fedor now!
(In all seriousness, I’m happy for him, and I’m happy for myself and other fans, because his finish means we get to see him again in the octagon. I was laughing when Rogan quipped "Why doesn’t he cut to 205?" Well, because 205 has an actual depth of talent. Krylov isn’t killing any light heavyweight in 25 seconds this side of Dwayne Lewis.)
Alex Caceres? Alex Caceres!
Bruce Leeroy really was impressive on Saturday, and it’s not like Sergio Pettis wasn’t. Alex actually sat down on his punches and was able to drop the cherub-like Sergio with a stinging left straight. Later on he somehow sunk in a left handed rear naked choke that was so sneaky, I didn’t even see it. Big win for a guy who might be better than we all realize.
Well, Jesus. That was depressing. You spent 800 some odd words complaining about the main event, then afterwards, all you have to say is a few vaguely nice and vaguely analytical things about the other fights? You suck as a writer. I hate you.
You aren’t wrong. That decision is right up there on my "all time robberies" list. Lofty company. Thanks, Sal.
I’m out like Ben Henderson’s chances for a title shot, ever. Thanks for reading.