When Timothy Bradley was awarded a confusing split decision win over Manny Pacquiao this Saturday at the MGM Grand, I had to sit back and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Because, as a friend once said to me, in this world, you can either laugh or cry.
As we've just seen tonight, Bradley was on the right side of one heck of a botched decision that had him dethrone pay-per-view darling Manny Pacquiao via judging incompetence.
And I know that Bradley must be laughing right now (if he isn't, he should be).
Following a likewise disappointing premature No Contest in the PPV's co-main event, this most recent instance of god-awful officiating ruined what was an otherwise spirited affair between fan-favorite Pacman and Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley—a fighter described by HBO's hype team as having a legendary work ethic and what could be considered world-class headbutts (all accidental, of course).
Sometimes, you can only sit back and shake your head.
Although the fight was much closer than the HBO fight crew let on, there's no way that Bradley won enough rounds to justify any sort of victory. It just does not make sense, especially when you consider that Pacquiao landed more frequently, more effectively and controlled the majority of the action.
While Bradley gave a very spirited performance, and certainly won a couple of the fight's final rounds, he should be thanking the heavens (or his manager) right now for what can only be described as an atrocious judging error in his favour.
I know that it's extremely fashionable in MMA circles, at times, to criticize our sport's questionable judging (especially after a controversial fight), but I've never seen such a rotten decision in a mixed martial arts championship bout of this stature.
And here's the funny part.
MMA is a much harder sport to judge than boxing. First of all, MMA fighters can use all eight points of contact while standing (fists, elbows, knees and shins/feet), and there are many more techniques you must consider when judging someone's effectiveness on the feet.
Add that to the fact that many people have a hard time understanding the nuances of ground fighting, especially judges who come strictly from a boxing background.
Worse yet, MMA fights feature long, five-minute rounds, which do no break into easily judgeable chunks like the three-minute rounds of boxing and kickboxing.
How do you judge a bout where a fighter controls the first three and a half minutes of a round but gets dropped by a flurry late? How do you judge a failed submission attempt from the bottom verses another fighter's superior top control?
Sometimes, it's just a matter of opinion.
What we get in the UFC, and other MMA organizations, is a lot of extremely close, flip-of-the-coin, fights, where subjectivity and vague officiating foster a general sense of anxiety every time a fight goes to the cards
It's sad but true: in the world of combat sports, fans have almost become accustomed to the possibility that officials can tarnish an otherwise exciting fight with incompetence and questionable judging. You're pretty much waiting for the judges to screw it up, and in tonight's battle between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao, they did exactly that.
In the end, you can either laugh or cry.