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Scoring Issues With UFC 209 Main Event

(Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In a rare moment, Nevada commission director Bob Bennett appeared at the UFC 209 post-fight press conference and reacted to questions about the UFC 209 main-event scoring. There was a widespread belief that some of the Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson rematch should have been even.

However, 10-10 rounds should be extremely rare. It’s effortless to call a close round even; it takes an expert to call an extremely close round one way or the other. Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) policy is clear. MMA rounds are judged based upon:
•Effective striking/vault/grappling;
•Effective aggression; and,
•Cage control.

However, the standards are tiered. If the first tier is even, only then do judges look to Effective Aggression, and if that is even, only then do they look to Cage Control. Viewed this way, truly even rounds are vanishingly rare.

“If you’re a top-notch, A-plus judge, you should be able to discern through the scoring criteria who wins the fight, even if it’s razor thin,” said Bennett correctly, as transcribed by Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting. “Does a 10-10 round come up? Yes, but in the three years — almost three years — that I’ve been the executive director, we have not had a 10-10 round. And I think it’s incumbent upon the judges to be on top of their game and be able to pick a winner in that round. One effective strike or kick can determine who wins a round.”

“These judges, just like in the boxing events, you’re gonna score a round the way you see it. I don’t put any pressure or stress on them. It’s totally incumbent on them.”

“Tonight is a big-time fight for those judges. It’s very easy for someone to say, ‘I scored it 3-2 this way or that way,’ but you put your butt in that chair for five minutes and when you don’t see a lot of action you’ve gotta, really always be on top of your game — but it’s even more difficult when there’s less punches being thrown.”

However, Bennett has his limits.

Judges Derek Cleary and Chris Lee scored the fight 48-47 for Woodley; Sal D’Amato called it a 47-47 draw, seeing a 10-8 round for Woodley in Round 5. Bennett was not impressed.

“The one judge that had it 10-8 — we went over it in the debriefing — and that 10-8 was unacceptable,” said Bennett. “Not that it would have affected the outcome of the fight, but just to share it with you. We strive to do the best we can, but we don’t always succeed and that judge should have scored that round 10-9.

“He just missed it and usually he’s spot on. But thank god it didn’t affect the overall outcome of the fight.”

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Aaron Portier
Highly passionate MMA Journalist, and I've followed the sport ever since my favorite fighter, Vitor Belfort won the heavyweight tournament at UFC 12. After that I've tried to go to every local MMA event around the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas and decided to make it a point to have a career in some aspect in the fighting sport other than fighting in general (didn't want to ruin my face). I'm currently enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University working towards a degree in Communication. I cover MMA, Boxing and Football for The Daily Star newspaper in my hometown of Hammond, Louisiana, in addition to working as a promotional writer for a local Boxing promotion known as BoxnCar and I cover boxing for 8countnews.com however SciFighting.com is my home. My main goal is to bring more publicity to MMA in my area and to the sport as a whole as all of us involved with the sport are merely scratching the surface and laying the foundation of what mixed martial arts competition will be further down the road.