The win posted by Yushin Okami over Nate Marquardt at UFC 122 was not without its detractors. Initially, I was one of them—I didn't see how the judges could've given two of the three rounds to the underdog.
Despite wanting to see Thunder emerge victoriously from his scrum with Nate the Great, it really did seem like the American took the first two rounds while the Japanese entrant rallied to take the third. However, closer inspection has clouded the issue.
But where I finally shake down on the matter is inconsequential.
What's relevant is that Okami and Marquardt gave fight fans another in a long line of nip-and-tuck decisions, another coulda-woulda-shoulda affair that will get the more passionate supporters straining to the limits of their vocal chords or keyboard's exclamation point.
With those put-upon souls in mind, let's take a look at some of the UFC's most bitterly embraced decisions:
Eh, I actually thought the judges got this one right.
Then-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson certainly landed with heavier hands; the problem is he didn't land enough of them. Additionally, the challenger chopped away with thwacking leg kicks and controlled Jackson when the action hit the mat. Granted, Forrest Griffin was the insurgent to Rampage's throne and he didn't whomp the champ.
However, while I firmly believe the challenger should have to clearly beat the reigning top dawg, I'm not fool enough to insist on a stoppage.
And that was about the only thing Griffin failed to do.
Regardless, a vocal and strong group of fans will lose their minds if you mention how clearly he beat Rampage. So it makes the list.
When I watched this over the web via live stream, I couldn't see any way to give the first or the second round to Yushin Okami. But, upon closer inspection during the Spike re-cast, I'm not so sure about Round 1 anymore.
Round 2 was an overwhelming stanza for Nate the Great, there's no discussion there. The judge who gave all three rounds to Thunder should get the heave-ho. However, Round 1 was quite possibly a toss up—both competitors spent about a good deal of time on top of his adversary, which is good for points unless I'm mistaken.
Additionally, both Yushin and Nate landed some shots. I thought the American got the edge in striking, but his Japanese counterpart did find some soft spots with his snipes.
And the third was unquestionably Okami's.
Nevertheless, the 30-27 scorecard and the suspect first round leaves this decision vulnerable.
Tito Ortiz' approach is made for ugly decisions because he's a ground-and-pound specialist who can beat you up despite being an inferior striker and/or grappler.
That style was in full effect against The Ultimate Fighter pioneer Forrest Griffin.
Though Griffin had the crowd on his size, the judges were in Tito's pocket on this night. Nah, just kidding, but it did seem like the Huntington Beach Bad Boy's star-studded persona got the benefit of the doubt in a close scrap with the blue-collar underdog.
Forrest seemed to be constantly initiating the exchanges and giving better than he got, but it was a back-and-forth event. One that saw both men take a thrashing, and Griffin has the unfortunate tendency to cut, which might've hurt him in judgmental eyes.
It might be hard for some to believe, but there was a time and place when Tito Ortiz was the Huntington Beach Bad Boy in a good way. As in the fans LOVED him.
Those days are long gone, but they might help explain his split decision over Vitor Belfort at UFC 51. The problem with that little conspiracy theory is that the Phenom wasn't exactly a heel. He wasn't quite on the level of Ortiz in terms of public adulation because Tito has always had the flare for promotion, but the Brazilian was revered.
He was also a vicious demon with his fists; that he may be again is the reason his upcoming clash with UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is so highly anticipated.
Belfort managed to break Ortiz' nose in the opening round and almost stopped the contest on multiple occasions. Additionally, he managed to win the battle of control—though it wasn't a romp as the HBBB did score numerous takedowns (he just couldn't keep Vitor down).
Ultimately, though, that's not how the judges saw it.
As I said, I think a challenger should decisively win a championship bout in order to take the hardware from the champ. Consequently, when Frankie Edgar took the unanimous decision, it blew my mind. Especially because one of the possibly blind judges gave all five rounds to the Answer.
At the bare minimum, B.J. Penn took two of the first three rounds before Edgar's insane pace began taxing the Hawaiian's gas tank. I can't say which of the two because I'd say he had all three, but what do I know? The point is that Frankie only dominated the fifth round and couldn't gotten the fourth from an objective eye, but the winning margin seemed to require a misplaced benefit of the doubt.
Happily for the organization and Edgar, the Lightweight Champion came out and blistered Penn in the rematch to earn another unanimous decision, one that left zero room for skepticism.
Sure, nobody's gonna care about this fight in a few days. Shoot, not many people are too concerned about it right now.
But, c'mon, there is NO WAY Duane Ludwig won this bout.
Nick Osipczak spent about 2:30 of the first round getting beaten up by Bang, but he landed a right hook that shocked Ludwig and turned the round in Sick Nick's favor. From there, he proceeded to buckle the American twice AND score a takedown before the first five minutes ended.
I don't see how you can give the first to Ludwig.
Nor can I see any argument for the second going to Bang, either. It was closer, but the Brit seemed to be blocking almost everything. That begs the question, what good is aggression if it poses no danger?
Because why would Osipczak waste energy trying to "out-aggressive" his opponent when he doesn't feel threatened? Isn't the point here to win a FIGHT?
Granted, Slick Nick hurt his own cause by getting steamrolled in the final round after gassing (or getting hurt). Still that shouldn't have been an issue. Instead, it proved fatal as Ludwig waltzed away with the split decision.
Aside from the Rampage-Griffin bout at No. 10, there's a consistent theme to several of the poor decisions—kicks have gone unappreciated by the officials scoring the bouts.
Perhaps that's in the rules, and it's a simple misunderstanding, but—if that's the case—the rules need to be changed. Because nothing so cumulatively devastating and effective should be overlooked and/or discounted.
When then-UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture got the unanimous decision in his first match with Pedro Rizzo, the look on the Natural's face said it all, "hmm, really?"
Now, everyone loves Randy so most fans have made peace with the miscarriage of Octagon justice that transpired at UFC 31 and that's cool (the fact that Couture dismembered Rizzo in the rematch a few months later also helps).
The bout itself was a five-round war with both warriors savaging each other at various points, plus it's not like the Rock whooped up on Captain America.
But, once again, the Brazilian's leg kicks had the American limping, then staggering around the cage in the latter rounds. Legend has it that Couture was rehabbing his left leg for six months and, to this day, has a divot in his left quad where the brunt of the force was absorbed.
Did I mention I'm of the opinion that a challenger has to really beat a champion to take his belt?
Yeah, so I wasn't too bent out of shape by this hot potato. But find a Mauricio Rua loyalist and mention his first bout with Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight belt, and then take a couple steps back.
Admittedly, if you re-watch UFC 104's main event and screw your eyes to Shogun, it's easy to see what all the fuss was about from his camp.
The current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion certainly touched the Dragon with his fair share of solid strikes while Machida's counter-striking had a more pepper-ish feel to them. Additionally, even the pro-Lyoto squad must acknowledge that Shogun's kicks were decimating the former king of the 205-pound division.
Of course, all's well that ends well—Rua left no doubt in the rematch and now sits atop the most rugged division in mixed martial arts.
Nothing gets the masses' blood boiling like a horrendous decision that delivers an ill-gotten victory to a wildly unpopular fighter at the expense of a fan favorite.
Except perhaps when the fan favorite is a gentle giant who's overcome the considerable competitive disadvantage of being deaf.
When UK posterboy Michael Bisping "earned" the split decision over Matt Hamill at UFC 75, the London crowd might've been cheering, but they were the ONLY ones. Because the Hammer won that tete-a-tete in the eyes of nine out of 10 observers; he was taking the action to the Count and getting the better of most of the exchanges.
Not to mention the American was landing the heavier blows as well.
Regardless, the two of the three judges saw the contest in favor of the Brit and Bisping took home the W. The UFC might've had its promotional spearhead for Queen and Country intact, but it also had the egg of an ugly decision all over its face.
This five-round barn-burner between a 24-year-old B.J. Penn and Caol Uno, a competitor who probably deserves a better reputation than he has, was a rematch of their infamous first "fight" that ended in the blink of an eye.
And it demanded a winner.
Not only was it a battle for the vacant UFC lightweight championship, but it was also a damn good battle.
I'm a big fan of the Hawaiian pound-for-pound terror so I lean in Penn's direction, and I'd say the damage inflicted on Uno's face would support the tilt. However, I'd imagine even B.J. would've rather walked out a loser than have the affair end in a tie.
That's because the Japanese gave him all he could handle, and it's not hard to make an argument in his favor.
Regardless, it's the worst decision in the history of the UFC because everybody was enraged and both athletes got boned out of a well-earned result.