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UFC: Judging Questioned in Kendall Grove's Split Decision Win Over Evan Tanner

Saturday night's Ultimate Fighter Finale main event between Kendall Grove and Evan Tanner ended up in a decision, and the judges' scores provide a fascinating glimpse into just how subjective judging can be in mixed martial arts.

Two of the three judges gave the fight to Grove, 30-26. The third gave the fight to Tanner, 29-28. That third judge, Al Lefkowitz, is taking a beating from a lot of UFC fans, including Rami Genauer at Fight Metric and Mike Fagan at Bloody Elbow.

"FightMetric sees all three rounds for Grove," Genauer writes, "with only the third round conceivably close enough to grant to Tanner." That's basically how UFC's announcers described the fight as well -- Grove dominated the first two rounds so thoroughly, in the announcers' eyes, that the third was academic, and we knew that if it went to decision, Grove would win.

So what was Lefkowitz thinking? Basically, he was thinking the same thing that Jim Murphy at The Savage Science thought: Tanner narrowly won rounds one and three. I don't agree with that -- I thought, while watching it live, that Grove clearly won the fight -- but I think reading Murphy's live account gives a good insight into how someone could have seen the fight differently, and I can't get as worked up by a judge giving the fight to Tanner as some people are.
(Or as worked up as I was by one judge giving Chuck Liddell a 29-28 win over Keith Jardine.)

Ultimately, MMA judging is, by design, extremely subjective, and I'm willing to say that two of the three rounds in the Tanner-Grove fight were such that two subjective judges could view them differently. That's just the way it works.

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