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Robbery Review: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier at UFC Vegas 53

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.

Like life itself, Andrei Arlovski just finds a way.

Arlovski picked up UFC win No. 23 in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 53 on Saturday, moving him into a tie for the most victories in promotional history with Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller. It wasn’t exactly an emphatic win as he had to sneak past a game Jake Collier, and while the former UFC heavyweight champion’s peers were happy for him, even they had to admit that the judges might have done him a favor.

Just like that, the ageless heavyweight GOAT finds himself on a four-fight win streak with wins in six of his past seven fights, his lone loss during that stretch to British star Tom Aspinall. Simply put, if you go to the scorecards with Arlovski these days, there’s a very good chance the fight won’t go your way. Frankly, we’re thinking of implementing a rule where if you’re a UFC heavyweight that can’t definitively beat the 43-year-old Arlovski, then going the distance with him means you automatically lose.

In reality, no such rule exists and Collier would probably like to have this decision reviewed. He’s in luck, because that’s exactly what we do around here. So fire up the Robbery Review film room and let’s go to work.

What was the official result?

Andrei Arlovski def. Jake Collier via split decision.

How did the fight go?

Props to Jake Collier right out of the gate for doing everything in his power to not just accept that this is an Andrei Arlovski fight. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most Arlovski-ish, this fight is probably a six at best; which is to say that the fight turned out to be entertaining as opposed to a slog and Collier was actually able to execute some of his usual techniques.

Collier bullied his way in right away, but Arlovski refused to give up an early takedown. Lots of ineffectual striking in the clinch to start. When they separate, Collier gets a couple of leg kicks to land. It’s not much, but Collier had at least done something through the first two minutes while Arlovski had done very little. Collier started stringing together some combinations on a retreating Arlovski, who responded with a few good counters. We got a break in the action due to a clash of heads and that’s the last time I’ll mention it because it happened a bunch more times throughout the fight and both fighters were to blame.

A beautiful elbow inside cut Arlovski across the bridge of his nose and that was the best strike of Round 1. Arlovski shook it off and went back to his counter-heavy game plan while Collier continued to stalk him.

Round 2 is one I imagine most fans had difficulty scoring as there was plenty of good leather being traded. The volume was unquestionably in Collier’s favor, but Arlovski was sharp with his counters. As Dominick Cruz pointed out on commentary, Arlovski slipped in a lot of accurate punches in between Collier’s offensive bursts. Collier finally scored a takedown in this round as well, but he didn’t do much damage off of it. They ended the round trading punches.

Collier had a fast start to Round 3 as he was landing and backing Arlovski up. He had a nice jab going throughout the fight, he just got into trouble when he followed up too aggressively and left himself open to Arlovski’s counters. Arlovski had some success scoring with straight punches from distance too, but nothing he threw kept Collier from advancing and scoring. Arlovski’s chin was definitely put to the test in this one. More hard shots from Collier in the final 30 seconds and he even gets a takedown, which Cruz says should steal the round for Collier, which isn’t a thing.

What did the judges say?

Mike Bell scored it 30-27 Collier.

Douglas Crosby scored it 29-28 Arlovski.

Sal D’Amato scored it 29-28 Arlovski.

All three judges gave the first round to Collier. Crosby and D’Amato gave Rounds 2 and 3 to Arlovski for the win.

After the decision was announced, Collier exited the cage in what appeared to be a show of frustration, but he later clarified the situation on Twitter.

What did the numbers say?

(Statistics per UFC Stats)

The significant strike count tells us that this was a close fight as Collier narrowly edged out Arlovski 93-91. Going round by round, the stats go even more against the argument for a robbery as Collier won Round 1 25-20, Arlovski won Round 2 39-36, and Round 3 was a tie at 32-32.

In Collier’s favor is the total head strike count (77-66), which is typically a better indicator of who is doing the more relevant damage. Arlovski had the edge in body strikes (15-7) and a narrow edge in leg strikes (10-9).

Collier was successful on two out of three takedown attempts, but did not land a single ground strike throughout the bout, so those takedowns should essentially be ignored in regards to scoring.

What did the media say?

Collier won.

All 14 media scores posted on MMA Decisions are for Collier, with six of those scores giving him a 30-27 win.

What did the people say?

(Data derived from MMA Decisions and Verdict MMA)

Fans on MMA Decisions agree with the media as the top two options are for Collier and combine for almost 81 percent of the vote (44.8 percent for 30-27 Collier, 35.9 percent for 29-28 Collier).

Round 1 was a clear 10-9 for Collier at 91.8 percent, while Round 2 was close with 10-9 Collier garnering 52.7 percent of the vote. A 10-9 for Collier in Round 3 comes in at 79.7 percent.

Over on the Verdict MMA app, the scoring actually has this one pretty close, but Rounds 1 and 3 are firmly in Collier’s favor.

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.

Due to Arlovski winning the second, the final score only comes out to 28.82 to 28.24 for Collier. However, he won Rounds 1 and 3 by 45 points each, so even if there’s no dispute over Arlovski winning Round 2, just going by how we actually score fights that’s an easy two rounds to Collier according to Verdict MMA voters.

How did I score it?

The official stats definitely surprised me here as I saw Collier outworking Arlovski on both of my viewings. But this is one situation where I’m trusting my eyes over the numbers and you should too.

Collier didn’t just press the action in this one, he landed clean shots and had Arlovski fighting ineffectively off of his back foot on multiple occasions. If Arlovski had 20 significant strikes in the first half, a lot of those had to be clearing the bare minimum to be counted in that category. So that’s Round 1 out of the way.

Round 2 I scored for Arlovski as I felt that he took advantage of Collier’s lackluster defense. Collier is such a fun heavyweight to watch because of his go-for-broke style, but it definitely cost him a round here as he walked straight into impactful counter punches. On the other hand, he also landed plenty so there’s a case to be made for Collier. A close round that I gave to Arlovski by a small margin.

As for Round 3, see my notes for Round 1 and 2. Yes, I’d like to see Collier not get hit so much; no, I don’t believe Arlovski landed as often or as consistently as Collier. Maybe it’s because Arlovski showed so much toughness that the judges saw fit to give him this round, but it’s not Collier’s fault that Arlovski is just able to eat combinations and might actually be immortal at this point.

Collier came forward and was effective doing so. That’s a win for me.

Was it a robbery?

Look, it was a competitive and enjoyable fight, but this is a case where the judges have to be able to distinguish between who is driving the offense and who is just hanging in there. It’s Collier who was the better striker in Round 1 and Collier who pressed the action in Round 3.

If you’re wondering why it matters who pressed the action, this is where the stats actually can help us so long as we factor in the criteria. Let us never forget that octagon control and aggression are secondary to damage and shouldn’t be brought up unless necessary; however, if you bring up the dead-even official Round 3 stats, then you have to give Collier that round based on that secondary criteria. That doesn’t matter to me because I gave Collier that round on effective striking alone, but if you need to go to octagon control as your decider then that’s even more clearly in Collier’s favor.

We all love seeing Arlovski win, but that’s a joy we should have been deprived of Saturday if the judges had gotten it right.

The final verdict

Robbery.

Poll

Was Andrei Arlovski’s win over Jake Collier a robbery?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Yes
    (654 votes)
  • 40%
    No
    (449 votes)
1103 votes total Vote Now