It’s interesting to think about how much power judges have in MMA while, for the most part, staying in the shadows. Fans and media complain about in-ring robberies, yet how many could pick Sal D’Amato and Tony Weeks out of a police lineup? The UFC needs to shine a spotlight on the judges before each fight and afterwards when a decision is read. Show a stock photo alongside scores, have broadcasters focus on who the questionable scores come from, and in general make people more aware of who is behind the outcomes they’re upset about. With more public recognition, judges are certain to up their game when it comes to consistently performing their jobs at a high level.
The outrage over the scoring in Saturday night’s showdown between UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and top contender Johny Hendricks was widespread with everyone from fans to former fighters to UFC President Dana White labeling it as an embarrassing example of officiating. Of course, strange scorecards are nothing new, and fighters have been told to avoid going the distance for years based on the risk involved by leaving the result in judges’ hands. Hopefully, the blunder occurring on a stage as large as UFC 167 will create the motivation necessary to finally address the problem in 2014. While human error will always factor into fights on some level, judging can be dramatically improved by implementing a few simple fixes. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)
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