Are MMA Judges Up to the Task?

With the controversial ending of the UFC live 3 MMA fight event featuring “Ultimate Fighter” season one winner Diego Sanchez and top welterweight contender Martin Kampmann, judges in the sport are once again a topic of debate. Many MMA fans were angered by the result of the fight between Sanchez and Kampmann, and some have questioned the competency of judges in the sport.

I actually disagree with many fans that felt Kampmann easily won the decision. If the fight is studied closely, it is easy to realize how close of a fight it really was. Kampmann came out very sharp in the first round, easily winning the round 10-9. In the second round, Sanchez clearly wins the round thanks to his power punches that hurt Kampmann. Kampmann did a good job of defending takedowns and even landing clean punches but he did not do enough to take the second round. The third round was the toughest round to score with both MMA fighters landing solid blows. Diego finally landed a takedown in the third round and that probably secured the fight for him.

While some fans might have been left with a bad taste in their mouth after the UFC live 3 MMA fight event, the reality is that the Sanchez versus Kampmann match is not a good example of bad scoring in the sport. A better example would be when Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was robbed after defeating Machida at the UFC 104 MMA fight event or when the judges robbed ultimate fighter alumni Nam Pham of his clear victory over Leonard Garcia.

While MMA judges still have a lot to learn in terms of properly scoring all the aspects a fight, for the most part they usually get the fights right. It would be nice if MMA promotions and the many athletic commissions governing the sport start working together on ways to improve the competency of the Judges. I wouldn’t even mind a requirement for Judges to be trained in at least one aspect of MMA before being eligible to score a fight. Though it is very unlikely such a thing would happen, that would be a significant step in ensuring the right fighter gets their hand raised after every MMA fight.

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