Storylines That Emerged from UFC Live 3

By Jason Probst Mar 5, 2011
Was Martin Kampmann (file photo) robbed against Diego Sanchez? |

Fans were treated to a rousing main event at UFC Live 3, as Diego Sanchez rallied back from a bruising opening round to take a unanimous decision over Martin Kampmann. Along with the undercard and other assorted bits of MMA derring-do, we take a look at a few storylines that emerged from Thursday’s show.

‘Robberies’ and Alternative Scoring Systems

After Sanchez’s decision win over Kampmann, it was inevitable that some fans and pundits would cry “robbery.” With that refrain, a wider push for “solutions” to the current judging system is inevitable.

Decision aside, the use of the term “robbery” is a mushrooming problem in MMA of late. If not saved for those times when it truly counts, the word will quickly lose its meaning.

Presently, the 10-point must system is in use for MMA scoring. While often nebulous when applied to MMA, it is the best system available. This is assuming that it is being utilized by competent judges, since bad judges will make bad decisions with any system supplied.

Half-point scoring systems have been suggested, wherein a close round would be scored 10-9.5, with a clear-cut but not one-sided round being 10-9. Further domination would warrant scores of 10-8.5, 10-8, and so on. However, the problem with this system is that it carries even more leeway than the current one.

The 10-point must system strongly demarks the difference between the standard 10-9 round and the 10-8 round. To this point, the 10-8 has been reserved exclusively for one-sided thrashings, such as the first round of Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar’s rematch, where Edgar was battered and in dire trouble on multiple occasions. The standard is considerable, and it is fairly obvious what a 10-8 round is. The half-point system merely replaces the high standard with added vagaries.

All judges score takedowns, positional control and striking differently. Adding the prospect of making what would previously be a 10-9 round into a 10-9.5 or 10-8.5 only serves to further complicates matters, especially in terms of accountability. There is much less for judges to hide behind with the 10-point must system, which allows for the sort of transparency a half-point system would not.

Open scoring systems have been proposed, wherein judges’ scores would be made public between rounds, such as that used by K-1 in kickboxing competition. This would essentially ruin great fights by eliminating the two-way incentive for fighters to go out and win rounds. There is nothing like the drama of a guy having to put his head down and dig out the win, precisely because he is determined to make his own fate.

Facial Damage Does Not Determine a Winner

After their fight, Kampmann pointed to Sanchez’s face -- which looked as though it had been run over by a truck -- as an argument for why he felt he should have won. The sentiment is easy to sympathize with, but this has been a long-running canard in MMA.

Every fighter is different and reacts differently to facial damage. Some guys swell up at the slightest contact; others could be hit with a baseball bat all day long with negligible results.

MMA doesn’t have a long enough timeline to get a firm grasp on this difference, but as a helpful visual aid, look at pictures of notorious sweller Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, who was only cut once in a long career. Frazier dominated the pair’s first bout in 1971, but one would not have known it to look at their faces.

Other legendary boxing bleeders like Rocky Marciano, Ray Mancini and Arturo Gatti often looked as though they had gotten the worse of a fight that they had won. Nature simply made them that way, and Sanchez’s face seems to be made from the same material. But that does not mean he lost.

The Literal Gap in the Octagon

In recent fights, you may have noticed something odd happening when fighters are pushed up against the fence of the Octagon: their feet sink between the canvas and the fence at a depth of a few inches.

It is a small issue, but one that seems fairly new. Since the cage itself is a virtual “position,” this sinking element to the fight brings with it all sorts of permutations. It is not only a matter of time before someone, staggering back or in a general sort of retreat, injures their foot or ankle when it plummets into this gap?

The gap also makes for a nice anchor point against takedowns from some angles. If grabbing the fence is illegal, the Octagon canvas should also be fixed so that this does not keep happening. It presents an injury risk, and over a long enough timeline, someone will get hurt.

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