Few things infuriate MMA fans more than a fight being scored incorrectly, though the term “robbery” tends to be thrown around carelessly and is often steeped in bias. With Robbery Review, we’ll take a look back at controversial fights and determine whether the judges were rightly criticized for their decision or if pundits need to examine their own knee-jerk reactions.
For our first edition of this feature, we couldn’t be blessed with a better fight to review than the five-round main event battle between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Dominick Reyes from UFC 247 at Toyota Center in Houston, on Saturday.
What was the official result?
Jon Jones def. Dominick Reyes via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46).
How did the fight go?
The challenger came out sharp in the first two rounds, clearly giving Jones problems and landing clean punches. Reyes even appeared to score a knockdown in round one after catching Jones with a straight left, but it may have been a slip given that the strike landed on Jones’s body.
Round two was a better one for the champion, but the bout continued to be fought at Reyes’s pace and there was no sign of Jones’s wrestling or his expert clinch work. Jones had success with his trademark oblique kicks, which may have paid dividends for him in the later rounds. Still, Reyes was constantly pressing forward while striking effectively—occasionally forcing Jones to literally run away—and made a strong case to be up 20-18 heading into the third period.
Round three, Jones and Reyes are both scoring now, neither able to pull away on the cards (at a glance, anyway). There’s visible damage accumulating as Reyes’s nose is bloodied and swelling around Jones’s eyes needs tending to between rounds. Jones goes for his first takedown attempt in round three and Reyes defends against it well. Despite possibly being down on the scorecards, the champion looks to be the fresher fighter after a hotly-contested 15 minutes.
The championship rounds are easier to score and not because of any inherent deference to Jones, the incumbent titleholder. It’s in the last two frames that Jones is finally able to take Reyes down, which may have played a part in the judges’ decision even though he wasn’t able to initiate any significant offense off of the takedowns and Reyes recovered quickly. However, Reyes does not seem to be landing as consistently as he did in the early stages of the fight and Jones has reason to believe he’s earned another decision win.
What did the judges say?
Chris Lee scored it 48-47 Jones.
Marco Rosales scored it 48-47 Jones.
Joe Soliz scored it 49-46 Jones.
All three judges scored the first round 10-9 for Reyes and the last two 10-9 for Jones. Both Rosales and Soliz scored round two for Jones, while Lee and Soliz gave round three to Jones. Only 10-9s were utilized in the scoring of this bout.
Soliz’s 49-46 score immediately jumps out at you as it seems to fly in the face of what was an extraordinarily close fight, though in fairness to him if one views rounds two and three as toss-ups then he may have simply ended up on the side of the coin that went against the vocal majority. It’s possible that he viewed the fight as being more competitive than his final tally suggests.
What did the numbers say?
(Statistics per UFC Stats)
In both significant strikes (116-104) and total strikes (119-107), Reyes had the statistical advantage. He landed more significant strikes than Jones in each of the first three rounds: 23-17, 33-22, 26-19. Jones won the final two rounds 20-13 and 26-21.
Jones was the more accurate fighter in every round, landing 62 percent of his total significant strikes compared to Reyes’s 44 percent, another factor that may have swayed the judges.
Reyes was not credited for a knockdown in round one.
Jones was credited with a successful takedown in rounds four and five.
What did the media say?
Of the 21 outlets tallied on MMA Decisions, seven scored the fight for Jones, 14 for Reyes.
What did the people say?
Per MMA Decisions, 71.6 percent of voters scored the fight 48-47 for Reyes, with the next highest result being 16.4 percent in favor of the 48-47 Jones score.
Digging a little deeper using Verdict MMA, an app that allows for a more granular look at the scores, Jones came out ahead on the Global Scorecard with a score of 47.65-47.38.
Those numbers are based on the cumulative total of every submitted score (random scores like unwarranted 10-7s are filtered out if they constitute less than one percent of the total) in each round divided by the amount of submitted scores, which is why the round scores and final score include decimals. Put simply, Verdict MMA users felt Reyes won the first three rounds but that Jones won the championship rounds by a wider margin.
In MMA Fighting’s own poll that only asked to pick a winner, 58 percent of voters believe Reyes defeated Jones.
And they go the distance!— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) February 9, 2020
Reyes looked to have the advantage early, but Jones showed out in the championship rounds. Someone could be getting their heart broken in Houston tonight
Who won? #UFC247
How did I score it?
It’s important I disclose that my standards for what constitutes a robbery are high as I consider the term to be greatly overused and often disrespectful of the efforts of the winning fighter. I should also add that during the course of Saturday’s main event, I found myself consciously working to counteract the “challenger is doing better than expected” bias so as not to give Reyes more credit than his performance dictated.
That said, I ended up giving Reyes the first three rounds and assumed that Jones would need a finish in round four or five to keep his title, which proved to be incorrect.
Still, I am reluctant to call this a robbery as the third round felt like it could have gone either way, especially without the benefit of live stats.
Was it a robbery?
Putting aside my own opinion, the people have spoken and there is a significant contingent that believes we should have heard “and new” on Saturday night. Just as importantly, the numbers back up that view.
While some may argue that Jones should be granted the “champion’s advantage” (you shouldn’t, it’s not an actual thing), the fact is that Reyes won the first three rounds convincingly in the striking department, which is supposed to be the first criteria considered under the Unified Rules. Had Jones managed a submission attempt or any ground-and-pound during the contest, this would be a different story. As it is, the stand-up striking was the most significant element of the fight and Reyes had the advantage on the feet in three of the five rounds.
This is to take nothing away from Jones who showed off his durable chin and timely defense to avoid becoming one of Reyes’s knockout victims, and he also outperformed Reyes in the final two rounds. But Reyes did enough to win.
The final verdict
Was Jon Jones’s win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 a robbery?
This poll is closed