The Ultimate Fighting Championship's return to Chicago was initially met without much fanfare.
On paper, the card couldn't hold its own when held up next to the UFC's previous two Fox Chicago installments. The 2012 version featured Rashad Evans, Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and a guy named Chris Weidman. Last year, it was Rampage Jackson, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone and a flyweight championship fight.
There was no such championship fight this time around, and the rest of the card couldn't compare to previous installments in terms of star power. Prejudging an event before it ever takes place is generally not a wise idea, especially when the main event features two fighters who are naturally predisposed to having thrilling fights.
But sometimes, the stars align. Sometimes, we are treated to an event that exceeds all expectations. If we are honest with one another, this happens more often than not.
But sometimes, the stars steer clear of one another, and we are given a forgettable fight card capped off with an absolutely horrendous judging decision.
There were bright spots, to be sure, such as Donald Cerrone's fantastic head kick knockout over Adriano Martins. But the one thing we'll take away and remember from this card? The horrendous decision awarded to Benson Henderson in the main event.
I can accept the idea that Henderson perhaps won two rounds. Personally, I scored the fight 49-46 for Thomson, and there were those watching with me who scored all five rounds for Thomson. A clean sweep, if you will. I couldn't lean that far. But at most, I saw Henderson winning two rounds.
But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Henderson being awarded a 49-46 by judge Sal D'Amato, or anyone else for that matter. Watching the fight, there is simply zero way for anyone of sound mind, with any nominal degree of mixed martial arts knowledge, to see Henderson winning four rounds. It is preposterous.
So, what did we learn? We learned the same thing we learn every two or three fight cards: that judging in mixed martial arts is an incredibly broken system. Without fail, we are reminded on a consistent basis that fighters are stripped of the victories they earned in the cage, and they are stripped of those wins by people who have no clue what they are watching in the cage.
Josh Thomson beat Benson Henderson. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't nearly as exciting as we hoped it would be. But he won the fight, and he is limping away from Chicago without the thing he deserves the most.