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Analysis of Chuck Liddell-Keith Jardine Fight Raises Question of Favoritism Toward Liddell

Last year Chuck Liddell, the biggest star in UFC, fought Keith Jardine in the main event at UFC 76. If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube here and here.

Jardine won by split decision, with two judges giving him the fight 29-28 and one judge giving it to Liddell 29-28. I scored the fight live and gave it to Jardine 29-28, and I felt like I was being generous to Liddell by having it that close. Jardine absolutely won the fight, and as I wrote immediately afterward, it's hard to imagine what the judge who scored the fight for Liddell was thinking.

That fight is long past, and maybe there's no reason to even bring it up again. But the great has done a statistical analysis of the fight, and it raises the question, once again, of what judge Marcos Rosales, who scored it for Liddell, was thinking. Jardine simply dominated the fight, and the more detailed analysis done by Fight Metric only backs up what everyone who watched the fight saw.

So what was Rosales thinking? I wouldn't suggest anything untoward, but I would suggest that there are too many judges -- in all sports where judges exist -- who favor the bigger star in the competition. Whether consciously or subconsciously, there's a tendency to give the benefit of the doubt to the competitor who has accomplished more in the sport. And that's wrong. Judges need to be impartial, and a judge who can't be impartial shouldn't be a judge.

So was this a one-time lapse by Rosales, or does he always favor the bigger star? I don't know, because in mixed martial arts, we've never had the necessary data to make such an assessment. Thanks to Fight Metric, that data is now being collected.

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