Get buckled in because we are going to tackle the Fightmetric numbers for the super-controversial UFC 167 bout between Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks. Fans, media, fighters and UFC brass all erupted over the decision, so it's important to take a look at the statistics and try and rationalize the scorecards.
Let's start off, though, by checking out how the judges saw things. You can see the official numbers here.
As you can see, all three judges scored Rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 the same way. Each gave Hendricks Rounds 2 and 4, and all three judges gave St-Pierre Rounds 3 and 5.
Now for the actual FightMetric statistics, which you can find here.
The Easy Part
The numbers corroborate the scores. Round 2 saw Hendricks land 37 total strikes (30 significant, 19 power) compared to GSP's 30 (28 significant, seven power). Hendricks wobbled the champ twice, which made it a clear-cut 10-9 for the challenger.
Round 3 saw Georges St-Pierre bounce back, landing 32 total strikes (31 significant) compared to Hendricks' 22 (15 significant). Hendricks landed a takedown during the round but just six strikes on the ground, none of which qualified as power shots.
Round 4 swung back in favor of Hendricks. Hendricks landed 41 total strikes (18 significant) to GSP's 24 (14 significant). 21 of Hendricks' strikes, though, came from his time on the ground, when the champ slipped on the Bud Light logo in the center of the Octagon. Slipping over the decals on the mat is commonplace in MMA, and Hendricks made the most of it before inexplicably letting GSP get back to his feet.
The fifth and final round saw GSP hit 13 total strikes (nine significant) to Hendricks' 15 (four significant). However, GSP would take the round by scoring two takedowns and finding success in the clinch.
The full fight numbers, oddly, saw Hendricks beat out GSP in total strikes 142-125, but GSP would lead in significant strikes 101-85.
The Hard Part
As stated, everything came down to the first round, and the first round was very close.
Hendricks landed 27 total strikes to GSP's 26. GSP, however, would land 19 significant strikes to Hendricks' 18. Both fighters landed one takedown. GSP was also recorded as attempting a guillotine choke (though he did not come close to finishing the fight with it).
Where did those strikes land?
Of Hendricks' 27 total strikes, nine went to the head (eight power), four went to the body (one power) and 14 went to the legs (eight power). Twenty-two of those strikes were in the clinch, four were on the ground and one was at striking range.
When it comes to GSP, five strikes went to the head (one power), 16 went to the body (10 power) and five went to the legs (two power). Seventeen strikes were in the clinch, nine came at striking range and zero came on the ground.
Weighing which strikes are worth the most is an exercise in futility.
Is a knee to the thigh against the cage better than a light leg kick? How about a hard leg kick? Is a short punch to the temple during a sprawl worth more than a body kick? What about in comparison to a decent jab at striking range?
Obviously, you can't really make a serious distinction looking strictly at the numbers.
As with most close decisions, many wrongly declared it the biggest robbery since the last one. It wasn't. It was a fight that ultimately came down to one round.
That, though, isn't the problem. Even the most infuriated "Bigg Rigg" fan would struggle to say he won more than 3 rounds. The issue is that Johny Hendricks took two rounds while Georges St-Pierre squeaked out two rounds. The 10-point must scoring system, however, makes no distinction.
It was a problem with Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar 2, and it was a problem with Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones. Worse yet, nobody seems to know how to fix it.
Because of that, in this case, fans just need to sit back and appreciate the fact that we saw two warriors clash. You may not have agreed with the decision, but alas, it is done and will not be changed. It was still a good, interesting fight.
Fighters, though, need to really weigh how to really push for that finish or, at the very least, assume they lost every round they didn't dominate.