The 10 Most Controversial Decisions in MMA History
Joe Rogan with Leonard Garcia after Nam Phan bout
Often fans that have watched the fight from the comfort of their own homes have slapped their heads in wonder when the judges scorecards were read at the conclusion of a fight.
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times may be a-changin' in MMA, more specifically with the UFC. UFC 131 will be the first UFC event that will allow the judges video monitors. Later this week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will discuss allowing video monitors at UFC 130.
The judges are currently at a disadvantage to those viewing the fights at home. The judges, get one angle and can often miss the subtle (or not so subtle) nuances the at home viewer can easily see.
If judges are allowed monitors at every MMA event, the following controversial decisions may have turned out different.
Bas Rutten vs Kevin Randleman at UFC 20
A pre-Zuffa tilt here between the highly-ranked Bas Rutten and Kevin Randleman.
This bout was for the UFC heavyweight title and Rutten was widely seen as a golden boy of sorts heading into the bout.
The pro-Rutten crowd say that Randleman did little more than lay on top of Rutten after taking him down.
The pro-Randleman crowd says that Rutten did more damage, striking from the bottom.
When the judges cards were read the fight went to Rutten via split decision.
If you don't think this one is controversial...well, it's still being talked about and the fight took place in 1999.
Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31
A "young" Randy Couture put his UFC heavyweight title on the line against Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31. Couture was 37 when he faced Rizzo on this May 2001 fight card.
Couture took the fight to Rizzo in the first round, using ground and pound to bloody the challenger, but that was the last time that Couture would have a distinct advantage in the fight.
Rizzo got cleaned up between rounds and recovered well, putting Couture down with a strong kick early in the second round. Rizzo then used kicks and punches to keep the champion at bay and leery of exchanging.
Most fans that saw this fight gave the final four rounds to Rizzo. If you have any doubts that Rizzo won this fight, watch Couture's expression when he is announced as the winner.
Couture and Rizzo would fight again at UFC 34 with Couture taking that fight via TKO.
Tyson Griffin vs Clay Guida at UFC 72
Tyson Griffin had Clay Guida in trouble early with a guillotine, but the never say die Guida slipped out.
These two fought a tough first round, with Griffin clearly winning the round, after that, well, it was Guida.
Guida was the more aggressive fighter in the second round, sinking a knee bar that Griffin slipped out of. Guida then took the back of Griffin while standing, Griffin tried to shake Guida off, but he remained locked on, finishing the round on Griffin's back.
The fight ended with Guida taking control as the fight ended.
The judges scored it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Griffin with the crowd booing the decision.
While the decision may have been incorrect, it was one hell of a fight.
Ninja Rua vs Quinton "Rampage" Jackson PRIDE 29
How bad was this call?
As Rampage stood dejectedly in the ring, the commentators said, "Let's go to the judges decision to see what we already know. Its a split decision...wow...and even Quinton 'Rampage' Jackosn, the look on his face says it all. 'Ninja' Rua won that fight and Quinton Jackson knows he won that fight."
Jackson shook his head, knowing the wrong call had been made, and it appeared as if he said the camera "I didn't win."
As Jackson accepted his trophy for the victory he called out to Rua, who was walking form the ring with tears in his eyes, and attempted to give the trophy to Rua.
Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard at UFC 125
Gray Maynard had the UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, hurt in the first round of this bout, but he was unable to finish off the champion, despite landing a total of 97 punches in the round.
It could be argued (and it has been) that Edgar won the next four rounds of the fight, but when the score cards were read the fight was scored 48-46, 46-48, 47-47, resulting in a majority draw.
The fighters seemed disappointed, the fans (who saw a great fight) were disappointed and even UFC president Dana White seemed disappointed as he draped the belt over the shoulder of Edgar.
I'm not saying the decision in this one was wrong, but it was a terrible way to end a championship fight and it goes a long way toward showing that the judging is not very consistent in MMA.
Furthermore, it is another glaring example of how the judging criteria needs to be reworked and trained to—and that is why it is on the list.
Sean Sherk vs Evan Dunham at UFC 119
You know a decision is bad when the commentator has to enter the cage and ask the crowd to applaud the winner.
That's exactly what UFC commentator Joe Rogan had to do when he entered the Octagon to interview Sean Sherk after he was awarded a split-decision victory over Evan Dunham.
Sherk won the first round, using takedowns, defending against multiple submission attempts and delivering a big elbow that cut Dunham badly.
To start the second round, Sherk took Dunham down again, but after the fighters got to their feet it was all Dunham. It appeared that Sherk had gone to a defensive approach while Dunham was the aggressor.
After the fight UFC president Dana White, said what many people were thinking, "Dunham won that fight," White told ESPN. "The judges give to Sherk. People then ask themselves, 'What the f--- was that? It makes people angry. It p---ed me off."
"Our judges are so bad," White continued. "That's why I tell guys, you better get in there and handle your business yourself."
Lyoto Machida vs Mauricio Rua at UFC 104
If you did not see this fight, for Lyoto Machida's UFC lightweight title, do yourself a favor and google "UFC 104 results Machida Rua" and see how many of the headlines declare that Rua was the rightful winner of the fight.
The argument that Rua was the winner is usually based upon Rua's kicks causing the most damage to the champion as well as his more aggressive style.
The FightMetric report on the bout is revealing, showing that Rua landed 82 strikes to Machida's 42. 48 of those 82 strikes were power leg strikes.
While leg strikes may not have the "wow" factor of head kicks or power punches they do cause damage and they should have been enough to give the fight to Rua.
The UFC brass must have seen this fight's outcome as questionable as well, since an immediate rematch was booked for UFC 113. Rua did not let that fight get very far, knocking out Machida at the 3:35 mark of Round 1.
Leonard Garcia vs Chang Jung Sung at WEC 48
WEC 48 marked the first time WEC fans witnessed the man nicknamed "The Korean Zombie."
When he faced Leonard Garcia it quickly became evident how Chang Sung Jung had earned that nickname as he walked straight into everything Garcia could throw at him.
Garcia threw some heavy strikes early in Round 1, but Jung ate them and later dropped Garcia, unloading on him as he lay on the ground. He finished the round by delivering two knees to Garcia from the Thai Plum.
Garcia started off round two rocking Jung and dropping him, but he was unable to finish and his tank quickly hit E.
Midway through the round Jung jumped on Garcia's back and took him to the ground, looking for a submission. Garcia was game after breaking free and did land some strikes, but he was outworked by Jung in the second.
The third round pace was slower, and found Garcia backing up quite a bit.
The fight was scored 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Garcia and the results were welcomed with a nice round of boos that commentator Joe Rogan remarked on when he interviewed Garcia.
Wrong call or not, this was an incredibly entertaining fight.
Michael Bisping vs Matt Hamill at UFC 75
When Matt Hamill enters the Octagon at UFC 130 to face Quinton "Rampage" Jackson many fans feel that his record should be 11-1 and not 10-2.
The fight that many feel Hamill clearly won was his bout against Micheal Bisping at UFC 75.
UFC president Dana White spoke to Yahoo.com after the fight, “We left London thinking we had put on a strong show," White said. "Then we got home and we were absolutely flooded with email saying the fight was fixed and all that. It took on a life of its own.”
The judges scored the fight 29-28, 27-30, 29-28, giving the split decision to Bisping in front of the crowd at London's O2 arena.
There's no doubt that Hamill did the most damage in the fight and was the more effective striker.
Leonard Garcia vs Nam Phan at TUF 12 Finale
The first round of this fight appeared to have gone to Nam Phan as he was the aggressor, using strikes to control the action while Leonard Garcia seemed content to throw wild looping punches that occasionally landed, but did no damage.
Between rounds, Garcia's trainer, Greg Jackson, told him to stop backing up and he came out much more aggressive to start the second round. The big punches gassed him midway through the round and, when Phan noticed Garcia was tired, he dropped him to the ground.
Garcia gave Phan his back and spent the rest of the round avoiding the choke. Phan was not able to get the choke, but he was able to control the round.
Garcia cut Phan early in the third round using his wild punching style. Phan again waited until Garcia was tired and then used strikes to gain the advantage. A clearly gassed Garcia spent most of the round with his mouth open and his hands by his sides.
When the fight was over, Garcia looked beaten, shaking his head as he walked toward his training staff.
When the judges cards were read, Phan looked stunned when the first card was in favor of Garcia, the next card was for Phan then the third and final one was for Garcia. Garcia won by split decision and the crowd reacted immediately, raining their disapproval down.
Joe Rogan attempted to interview Garcia, but the crowd chants of "bulls**t" were overwhelming.
In his interview with Phan, Rogan told him that he had the fight 30-27 in favor of Phan. The fans clearly think that Phan won and Rogan called the judges out from the middle of the cage.