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.
Angela Hill has just about earned the nickname “Robbery Review Queen,” a dubious title that no fighter should want if it’s because they’re consistently on the wrong end of this feature.
Her fight at UFC Vegas 45 this past Saturday marked the fourth time Hill has gone to a split decision and the fourth time that she’s seen her opponent’s hand raised in those situations. On this occasion, Hill went a hard three rounds with Lemos, who was coming off of back-to-back first-round finishes, and though they snagged an extra $50,000 for the Fight of the Night, it was only Lemos who also took home her win bonus.
Hill has a lot of good will with the UFC and fans for taking this fight as a replacement on just five weeks’ notice, so her spirited effort did not go unnoticed and several of her peers voiced their support for her (and their displeasure with the judges’ call):
Great strawweight match up but I had it 29/28 @AngieOverkill you looked great girl! I don’t know where one judge had 30/27. Both talented fighters. @ufc— Tecia Torres (@TeciaTorres) December 19, 2021
I don’t agree with that decision at all. Judges need to check themselves #gronks— Bec Rodriguez (@RowdyBec) December 19, 2021
Whaaaat? Great fight but come tf on how did they score the 3rd?!— Jamahal Hill (@JamahalH) December 19, 2021
Nahhh!! @AngieOverkill came in as a huge underdog and delivered a performance worthy of that win!! That was her fight. Congratulations to Angie for that inspiring performance. #UFCVegas45— Dwight Grant (@DwightGrant) December 19, 2021
Analyst Kenny Florian did chime in on the Lemos side, however:
Had it 29-28 Lemos. Round 2 was the only round I had for Hill but very close round imo.— Kenny Florian (@kennyflorian) December 19, 2021
Back in May 2020, we put Hill’s loss to Claudia Gadelha under the microscope and our findings vindicated all of the robbery talk. Will the science be in her favor again?
What was the official result?
Amanda Lemos def. Angela Hill via split decision.
How did the fight go?
Upon a first viewing, the controversy would appear to primarily revolve around Round 3, but let’s take a look at how the fight developed because that may have influenced how the last five minutes were scored by the public.
Right off the bat in Round 1, Hill landed a clean left hook only to be hit by a sniper front kick to the jaw that rocked her. This resulted in a knockdown and Lemos immediately pounced for the finish, but Hill recovered and put Lemos in her guard while eating some ground-and-pound. Hill used her legs well to keep Lemos at bay and reverse into top position. They worked their way back to the feet, ending up in the clinch where they both landed strikes in close. Hill cracked Lemos with a looping right in the later stages of Round 1. It was definitely a Lemos round, but everyone predicting a fast finish (this so-called expert included) was sorely mistaken.
Hill spent most of Round 2 right in Lemos’ face, determined not to get kicked in the jaw again. A sound strategy. Lemos repeatedly had to tie Hill up to slow her advance, but this allowed Hill to utilize some punishing clinch work to score to the body. Overall, Hill mixed her head and body strikes in the clinch well in Round 2. It should be noted that Lemos was still landing clean shots even as she backed up. Definitive advantage in volume for Hill there and it appeared that Round 3 would be the decider.
Lemos opened the final frame with another front kick right on the button, which Hill walked through the second time. An uppercut for Lemos landed clean as Hill got inside to drill her with a clinch knee to the body. Lemos’ jab looked crisp in the third as it did throughout the fight. Hill caught a kick and scored a takedown, though she didn’t do much with it and that just led to some mostly inconsequential grappling along the fence. It’s when they broke apart that Hill managed to land a hard elbow to Lemos’ head. Lemos cracked Hill with a right, but Hill fired back with a head kick. Hill pushed the pace with a three-punch combo. She was relentless, but Lemos landed another accurate right hand counter.
What did the judges say?
#UFCVegas45 Official Scorecard: Amanda Lemos vs Angela Hill— UFC News (@UFCNews) December 19, 2021
View All Official Scorecards: https://t.co/aWI3fnfwDe pic.twitter.com/Trcl7vQZER
Mike Bell scored it 29-28 Hill.
Douglas Crosby scored it 30-27 Lemos.
Junichiro Kamijo scored it 29-28 Lemos.
Bell gave Rounds 2 and 3 to Hill, while Kamijo gave Rounds 1 and 3 to Lemos. Crosby scored all three rounds for Lemos.
At Saturday’s post-fight press conference, the always level-headed Dana White called Crosby’s 30-27 Lemos scorecard “insane.”
What did the numbers say?
(Statistics per UFC Stats)
Lemos narrowly wins the significant strike battle here, 50-48, with the edge in Round 1 (21-10) and Round 3 (18-17). Hill won Round 2 by a 21-11 margin.
The head strikes favored Lemos in Rounds 1 (16-6) and 3 (10-9). That third round was super close! In Round 2, arguably Hill’s most convincing round, she had a 10-6 advantage in head strikes and an 11-2 advantage in body strikes.
Lemos scored the lone knockdown of the fight in Round 1, while Hill recorded a takedown in Round 3 but did not attempt any ground strikes, rendering that positional change essentially useless in regards to scoring.
What did the media say?
Eleven media members scored this fight on MMA Decisions and all but one had it 29-28 Hill. The lone 29-28 Lemos score was submitted by Drake Riggs of South China Morning Post MMA.
What did the people say?
(Data derived from MMA Decisions and Verdict MMA)
The fan vote from MMA Decisions had this overwhelmingly in Hill’s favor with 67.4 percent going 29-28 Hill. The second-highest vote total is 26.2 percent for 29-28 Lemos.
Over on the Verdict MMA app, fans gave two rounds to Hill, with the third round as close as it looked.
The Global Scorecard had the fight in favor of Angela Hill.#UFCVegas45 pic.twitter.com/ajQYlZXkd6— Verdict (@VerdictMMA) December 19, 2021
That scoring system takes the cumulative total of every submitted fan score (filtering out aberrant scores like random 10-7s if they comprise less than one percent of the total) in every round and divides by the amount of submitted scores to determine the winner of each round and also in totality.
In this case, there was a difference of 44 points in Round 3 (and 42 points in the final score), a clear nod to Hill but not necessarily clear evidence of a robbery in my opinion.
How did I score it?
I have it for Lemos.
Damage remains the No. 1 criteria first-and-foremost when scoring a fight and Lemos had the more effective strikes in the first and third rounds. As enjoyable as it is to watch Hill march forward and put non-stop pressure on her opponents, against Lemos this tactic frequently resulted in her absorbing clean hits to the face.
Hill certainly had her moments, but with the benefit of being able to scrutinize every exchange in this fight, I feel strongly that Lemos’ strikes were of greater quality. Impact is something that the judges watching live at the APEX would have an even better feel for, so I’m inclined to trust them in these kinds of close fights (though 30-27 is definitely a stretch, to put it kindly).
Rounds 1 and 3 to Lemos for me.
Was it a robbery?
I think the better question to ask is “What keeps going wrong for Hill?”
Here are the stats from her other three split decision losses:
Vs. Cortney Casey - Hill had more significant strikes in Rounds 1 and 3
Vs. Claudia Gadelha - Hill had more significant strikes in Rounds 2 and 3
Vs. Michelle Waterson - Hill had more significant strikes in Rounds 1, 2, and 5
It must be stressed that significant strikes DO NOT tell the whole story of a fight. As I just explained for the Lemos fight, not all significant strikes are created equal and stats do not reflect damage, impact, nor how close a fighter came to finishing a fight.
However, in this case, they do help to illustrate just what a rough go Hill has had in close fights. Even if you believe it was fair to score all of these split decisions for her opponents, that is an unbelievable run of somehow falling just short of doing enough to eliminate any room for controversy.
If you want to rationalize these results, one nitpick is that Hill has only scored one knockdown in those four split decisions and though the strength of her output is undeniable, she also gets hit a lot herself (the narrow strike differential in these fights tell at least part of the story). One could argue that judges should have the capacity to recognize the winner of a fight even without a dramatic swing in the action like a knockdown, but calling these back-and-forth striking battles really is easier said than done.
For those vehemently declaring that Hill beat Lemos, I would question if that stance is influenced by Hill performing so well as the underdog in a fight that she was expected to handily lose (Hill was the biggest underdog on the card odds-wise). This is a common phenomenon in MMA and it’s difficult to take the emotion out of a fight when watching it. We know what we think and what everyone else thinks is going to happen and when it doesn’t play out that way, we’re quick to form a new narrative.
I don’t blame anyone for scoring Saturday’s fight for Hill. Or the Waterson fight. Or the Casey and Gadelha fights. I’m just not inclined to throw the judges under the bus on this occasion, as much respect as I have for both fighters.
The final verdict
Not a robbery.
Was Amanda Lemos’ win over Angela Hill a robbery?
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