Insignificant strikes

There's been a whole lot written about last Saturday's UFC welterweight championship match in which Georges St. Pierre "defended" his title against Johny Hendricks.  First, I want to make it completely clear that I am a GSP fan.  We're both karate guys.  He's always come off as a classy fellow and a great champion.  There's a serious problem with last Saturday's fight.  I watched it, and I had this fight scored 49-46 for Hendricks.  GSP looked like he'd been through a meat grinder by the end of the match.  Hendricks looked like he'd maybe gone for a jog.  This had been the foughest fight the champ had been in for a quite a while.  Yet, the judges gave GSP the win in a split decision.

There's some serious problems going on here.  This is the second title fight I've seen recently with some really questionable judges decisions.  Last fight was Jon Jones' defense again Alexander Gusstafson.  That fight was incredibly close and two judges giving it to Jones 48-47.  The last judge gave it to Jones 49-46, which was complerely nuts and spawned jokes that the judge in question was paid off by either Gatoraide or Nike (who both sponsor Jones).

That match raised a few eyebrows, but it was understandable that Jones had done enought to keep the belt.  The GSP/Hendricks fight is a completely different story.  This raises a lot of troubling questions, mainly, was this rigged?

The problem here was not GSP.  He fought with everything he had, and doesn't control the judges.  He seemed surprised as well with the decision.

The problem is not with the UFC and Dana White, because they do not get to pick the judges.  MMA walks a fine line.  They have to stay sanctioned with the athletic commisions of various states so they can keep holding events in them.  They don't dare rig or work a fight because White knows full well that's one of things that screwed boxing.  Yes, things are set up to make a bit of drama, but once those two fighter get in that cage there is no script.  If people get the very notion that this is rigged then the whole franchise is doomed.

The problem lies squarely with the judges, and the UFC has no control over them.  They don't get to pick them.  White doesn't seem to trust many of them, especially in Nevada where the fight took place.  I've seen some of these score card and have watched the fights they go with.  One of the things that fighters are scored on is "significant strikes".  I've been in martial arts since I was kid.  I've put on the gloves.  I've gotten concussions and cracked ribs.  I know what a significant strike is.  A significant strike does something.  It causes damage and/or knocks the other person back a bit.  Judges are declaring strikes significant that fighters are moving away from avoiding the brunt of the blow and sometimes the strike is completely blocked.  As mean as it sounds, many of these judges really need to get punched in the face just so they know what a significant strike is.

Dana White has said he's really hesitant about holding any more matches in Vegas after this.  That should be enough for the Nevada athletic commission to get the hint and look into this, but I doubt they will.  The only thing governments like better than money and power is red tape.  Fortunately, there's many other states that sanction UFC events.  Love to have them come to Norfolk.  That's the smartest move right now for the UFC.  The judges in that state are bad, so stay out of that state.

Other sports have their own referees and judges.  What would be best is if the UFC could get a bunch of judges that they know are going to be solid and get them sanctioned in the states they're holding fights.  I don't know how difficult that is going to be though.

There's been so much drama and speculation around this fight, and much of that is around the decision.  There's the "Hendricks tapped" dopes who must be really new to the sport to think Hendricks tapped in the first round.  There's rumors that UFC wanted GSP to remain champ because he's more marketable and will be in the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER movie.  There's GSP's remarks about him needing some time away from the sport.  Its a whole big mess.

One thing is completely clear though: the scoring system in MMA needs to get a good hard look and things need to change.  Johny Hendricks got completely screwed over, and that shouldn't happen in any title fight.

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