Most are calling it iconic. Some are calling it a classic, and a few are calling it the greatest fight in UFC history.
At UFC 139, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Dan Henderson put on a bout for the ages, but was the right fighter's hand raised at the end of the fight?
The extra couple of rounds recently attached to non-title main event bouts did both Shogun and fans a great service. While fans got to watch 25-minutes of magic unfold between two MMA legends, Shogun was able to muster up a comeback in the final two rounds after being dominated by Henderson early on in the bout.
The fifth round in particular was a big round for Shogun. Henderson, who was clearly gassed , spent the entire round on his back in survival mode eating punch after punch from a fully mounted Shogun.
The night's judges certainly weren't stingy in handing down 10-8 rounds. In the first bout on the main card, Stephan Bonnar did significantly less from top position against Kyle Kingsbury, and judge Jackie Denkin awarded him a pair of 10-8 rounds.
Bare in mind, Denkin wasn't one of the three judges calling the main event, but it still brings up the age-old question: What constitutes a 10-8 round?
The FightMetric stats are quite telling when comparing the bouts. Shogun's offense over Henderson towers in comparison to Bonnar's over Kingsbury.
The decision not to give Shogun the 10-8 round speaks volumes to the numerous gray areas in the world of MMA judging, and every judge seems to have his or her own criteria for certain aspects of the sport.
As MMA continues to grow, the judging will obviously improve, but it's tough to see any fighter denied a just verdict after such a gutsy performance.
"Don't let it go to the judges."
This has always been the saying that has served as the scapegoat for those charged with the duties of actually watching fights and rendering a decision.
Along with fighters, the judges also have a job to do, and there is no excuse for botching a decision based on the mere principle of a fighter not finishing.
Judging an MMA bout isn't an easy job. It should take years of training and a deep understanding of every aspect of fighting. Unfortunately, the sport has yet to take that leap, and some high profile bouts are delegated to judges with little to no MMA experience.
Luckily, the fact that Shogun and Henderson put on perhaps the greatest fight of all time somewhat shrouds the atrocity that occurred at the end of the bout, and fans are already clamoring for a rematch.
For Shogun and his camp, nothing can make up for the endless hours spent training and the blood and heart spilt to come out on top.
For them, UFC 139 will always represent the 10-8 round that should've been.
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