Bad judging in MMA is a little like cutmen, Bob Sapp or booing flyweights: Good or bad, it's part of the milieu. It's woven into the fabric.
So is bad refereeing, for that matter. And just overall generally bad decision making. This is not the Mensa society, after all. Blood and adrenaline are a heady brew.
In any event, every year we talk about robberies. Fighters who got a raw deal from those inside or outside the cage. The year we just wrapped up is no different. Here are the five most egregious UFC robberies from 2012.
Event: UFC 144
Result: Jake Shields defeats Yoshihiro Akiyama by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Shields stayed busier, but Akiyama did more damage. A lot more. Wasn't that essentially the reason why Benson Henderson got the nod over Frankie Edgar in their first encounter (which, by the way, happened on the same card)?
According to the FightMetric statistics, Shields had a striking advantage. But everyone who knows Shields or watched that fight understands that that advantage is only numbers deep. Akiyama had no respect for that part of his game. In the part where the two were more evenly matched—grappling—the data shows a clear edge for The Sexy One. He enjoyed a takedown edge in two of the three rounds.
Even if you feel Shields did enough early and in the final minutes to steal a decision, no way should it have been a clean sweep.
Event: UFC 142
Result: Carlo Prater defeats Erick Silva by disqualification (punches to back of the head) in Round 1
This wasn't like Alessio Sakara and Patrick Cote's fight 10 months later, which was stopped for the same reason. That was a back-and-forth fight that was very possibly affected by Sakara's clear (if unintentional) back-of-the-head strikes. Prater and Silva's fight at UFC 142 was nowhere near as close.
Silva swarmed on Prater from the get-go, landing a crushing knee and following it with hammer fists. If any of them really landed illegally, it wasn't many and didn't seem to have much to do with the fight. No matter. Referee Mario Yamasaki jumped in, and it was all over. It was Silva's first loss in the UFC.
Event: UFC 144
Result: Chris Cariaso defeats Takeya Mizugaki by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Cariaso was more active in that he moved his limbs and stuff more often. That is, he did in those fleeting moments when he was able to wriggle free of the bigger and stronger Mizugaki's control.
The Japanese faithful in attendance booed the decision. And rightly so. Mizugaki said after the fight that he felt like "victory was stolen." Can't blame him.
The UFC apparently didn't feel he was blame worthy either, as they paid him a win bonus despite the judges' ruling.
Event: The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale
Result: Erik Perez defeats John Albert by verbal submission (armbar) in Round 1
Referee Kim Winslow thought she heard a verbal submission. She didn't. It was just a scream. Erik Perez got a win he shouldn't have gotten. John Albert certainly believes that. Why not give the guy a rematch?
Event: UFC 148
Result: Forrest Griffin defeats Tito Ortiz by unanimous decision
Remember in the intro when I noted that MMA robberies can happen as a result of just plain old-fashioned numbskullery? Enter Forrest Griffin at UFC 148.
Ortiz had previously announced his retirement before the fight. Hoping to go out with a win, Ortiz fought hard (if not particularly well) for three rounds and eventually lost a hard-fought but clear decision.
Problem is, after the match, Griffin did that thing he does where he walks back to the locker room before the decision is announced. Then, after the decision was announced, instead of letting Ortiz have one final Joe Rogan interview and a dignified goodbye, Griffin wrested the microphone away and mock-interviewed Ortiz himself.
UFC President Dana White and the legacy-conscious Ortiz were none too pleased. Neither were the fans, who showered Griffin with boos for spoiling the moment. Though Griffin later apologized, it was the kind of robbery that can't be solved by athletic commissions, bonus money or rematches. It was the worst robbery of the year and it was another black mark on Griffin's resume outside the horns.
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