Din Thomas has no problems using the word “robbery” to describe several decisions at UFC Vegas 32. When a fighter is denied their hard-earned money due to the incompetence of a judging professional, there’s no other way to say it.
“I see how hard fighters work in order to do their job and be good at their job,” said Thomas on What the Heck. “When you have something like this happen, and it’s not in their control and they can’t do anything about it, that’s a robbery. That’s an absolute robbery.”
“It’s like working hard to go to the bank, getting a check, then you go to the bank to deposit it and somebody steals it. That’s what happened to [Maverick]. She worked for months for this fight. She did what she needed to do in order to win, and somebody took that away from her. That’s a robbery.”
In both Phillips vs. Paiva and Barber vs. Maverick, all of the media outlets that scored the bouts disagreed with the announced score and winner. All but one outlet had the former scored as a draw, while Maverick was the winner on all media scorecards.
Thomas isn’t a big fan of the 10-point must system, which doesn’t leave judges a lot of options for deciding the margin of victory in a round. But he also takes issue with what he sees as a hesitancy to award rounds by the wider margin a 10-8 is supposed to reflect. He cites the first round between Phillips and Paiva – a frame that saw near one-way traffic in favor of the former – as an example of judges not pulling the trigger on a dominant round.
“I don’t necessarily have a problem with [the 10-point system] if you’re more willing to give 10-8s and 10-7s because of the way a round is viewed,” he said. “But when you look at that Kyler Phillips fight, that’s definitely a 10-8, could even be a 10-7. You’ve got to use that, and not just be like, ‘Oh, he won a round, so give him a 10-9.’”
On what could be done to lessen the blow to fighters, Thomas said the first thing is to do away with the “show” and “win” purses that can tie half a fighter’s income on fight night to a win or loss. Thomas believes it’s an outgrowth of the tournament system, where competitors competed multiple times in one night. But with single fights the norm in the modern UFC, the practice does more harm than good.
“This is something I’ve been screaming for years,” he said. “You can go back and check my Myspace page. We need to get rid of the show and win bonus, because that win bonus does not help you perform better. In fact, it makes you a boring fighter, because you’re going to do what you have to do to win. I think they need to have one flat fee, then you get bonuses for finishing. Not for winning, but for finishing.
“When you’re talking about one single fight, you don’t need to incentivize a fighter with double the money. Fighters want to win regardless, and that doesn’t help them. But I think it hurts them in terms of excitement, because they’re going to do what they have to do in order to win and not be exciting and go for a finish.”
To put control back in the hands of fighters, Thomas also believes there needs to be more transparency on exactly how fights are judged and clear definitions of the comparable value of techniques are in the octagon.
“I think what the judges have to do is really quantify what’s important in a fight,” he said. “Like, how do you view leg kicks compared to jabs? How important are takedowns, really? What have you done about putting a guy on his back? How close did you get to finishing? You didn’t really, so if I hit you and I knock you down, or if you take me down, how do you score that?
“We all don’t view it the same way. Fighters, when they’re getting kicked in the leg, sometimes they don’t even realize it, but yet the judges are like, ‘Oh, he’s getting kicked in the leg.’ They don’t realize they’re losing points on it.”
But when it comes to what will actually done about any of these issues, Thomas isn’t very optimistic.
“The reality of it is, because fighters are suffering from this, the commission is not suffering from it,” he said. “The commission’s not losing money by screwing the fighters. The UFC’s not losing money by screwing the fighters. The fighters are the ones really suffering from bad judging and bad decisions made by the powers that be. So until the UFC’s pockets or the commission is affected by it, we’re not going to see a change.
“You try to go to the commission with that, they’re going to rip it up and be like, ‘See ya. The decision is the decision.’ But if it affected their pocket, like they got penalized for making decisions like that, we’d see a change in the scoring system and the judging.”