UFC 144 went down this past weekend and the return to Japan was an incredible success. The atmosphere and electricity inside the Saitama Superdome was uniquely Japanese and the fights delivered some awesome excitement, although some decisions were not without controversy...
The main event was a fast-paced and an exciting fight to see, and new champion Benson Henderson is a beast in the lightweight division and a clear force against anyone on any night. I am happy for him and he truly deserves the heights he is reaching in his career. I wish to take nothing away from Henderson, but he simply did not win that fight on Saturday night.
At what point did the UFC start scoring fights and basing decisions on damage and demeanor during a fight? Frankie threw and landed more strikes. Who are we to say which strikes are and aren't significant? Aside from the upkick in the second round, I did not see Edgar visibly hurt by any of Henderson's shots, and he continued to press the action. He scored more takedowns and he was by far the busier fighter. It was pretty obvious from where I was sitting.
I have spoken to several people who said that Henderson won because of the "feel" of the fight, or "for no particular reason," that he was just unmarked, he was still urging on the crowd at the end, he got stronger and Frankie broke down.
Folks, you win by scoring points or taking a guy out, it's that simple. Henderson did not outscore Edgar, and he did not take him out. The fightmetric.com had Henderson out-striking Edgar with power shots and significant strikes? If Edgar's many scoring strikes were so weak, and Henderson's so significant, why was Edgar pressing forward constantly and the more active fighter?
It is easy to urge on the crowd and look fresh at the end when the other fighter is doing all the work. I was getting frustrated at Henderson for not throwing his hands. His kicks were not hurting Edgar, as Edgar was catching them all, and Henderson wasn't busy enough to score more. For all those talking about how beat up Edgar was, the blood was from one upkick in the second round—that's it.
And the swollen eye could have been from anything: a thumb, a clash of heads. I didn't see Henderson visibly hurt Edgar with anything but the upkick and that was one strike while he was on his back. We all know that once a nose starts bleeding in a fight it is hard to stop it, but it wasn't a big deal to Edgar, he pressed on.
Consistency must be paramount when scoring and judging a fight. How else can you be consistent but score it on executed and landed techniques? You can't score a fight on look, feel or visible damage, it is way too subjective that way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not disappointed Benson won. I used to score fights by damage and thought that was correct. But over the years there have been many, many decisions in the UFC that made me shift my thinking and watching to emphasize point scoring. I didn't like it but I was forced to do it based on the evolution of judging and the sport. We can't now pull one decision out of a hat and go back. It's way too inconsistent.
Some clear examples are GSP-Penn. I was saying that BJ beat George up and everyone said George won on points. How about Sanchez-Kampmann? It was obvious Kampmann won that fight by damage and significant strikes. No I was told. Sanchez was busier and outscored him.
That fight was just last year. If Henderson won that fight on Saturday than Kampmann won his fight with Sanchez hands down. You feel me? How about Edgar-Penn I and even Edgar-Maynard I as other examples of Edgar taking more damage yet outscoring his opponent. In those he got the decision.
Consistency. I beg for it. I pray for it. Careers are on the line
Even Compustrike and Fightmetric, two of the top fight stat-tracking systems in the business, had this fight totally different.
Consistency is the key and you cannot be consistent by judging damage. You have to score it by points scored or knockout, never by visible damage. It's that simple. Don't stand there and tell me that Edgar's strikes were meaningless unless you are willing to let him punch you in the face. Henderson didn't cut bruise or swell, it doesn't mean he was the better fighter.
I call for an immediate rematch for Edgar. It is the right thing to do for the former champion. Anthony Pettis should not get a title shot on the back of beating Jeremy Stephens and Joe Lauzon, he should get the winner out of Miller-Diaz, with the winner of that getting the winner of Edgar-Henderson II.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA, MMA Editor at CKSN.ca and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca
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