For me there was little controversy over the scoring of last night’s Featherweight title fight between defending champion Jose Aldo, and former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. I thought Aldo clearly won the first two rounds as he was able to land the more significant strikes, while avoiding many of Edgar’s attempts. Edgar staying busy meant little when solid punches and crushing legkicks landed for the Brazilian.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan conjured up some controversy by giving his honest opinion about how judges score fights, and how many of them are terrible at their job. Unfortunately all this did was muddy the waters of PPV audience perception. Edgar looked to be coming back in the third round, but Aldo’s front kick to Edgar for me was so significant, Edgar simply didn’t do enough to even make the round a draw, let alone a 10-9 score in his favour.
With Aldo up 3 rounds, Edgar was able to come back in round 4, putting his combinations together better against a fading Aldo, and scored two takedowns — one of which was an impressive belly-to-back slam. Round 5 continued to see Edgar push the pace and even start landing some effective leg kicks of his own, though it appeared Aldo was content to disengage. Edgar appeared to be winning round 5, though not as clearly as in round 4, but within the last few seconds of the fight Aldo landed a superb Superman Punch off of the cage which alone could have been enough to sway the judges who scored the fight 49-46 for him. I personally sided with the judge that scored it 48-47.
So while on paper the scoring of the fight doesn’t hold controversy, it doesn’t tell enough of the story either. Edgar continues to show he can turn fights around in championship rounds, and maybe the fault can be placed on his inability to make things happen for him sooner. But I often wonder how his fights might have looked with an additional 2 rounds.
It used to be humorously said by some regarding Antonio ‘Big Nog’ Nogueira when he fought in Pride, that he didn’t lose fights, he just ran out of time. Some fighters are slow starters but have the technical ability to finish fights, it’s just they end up battling the clock as much as their opponent.
Boxing title fights for the big time champions have 36 minutes to play with, yet UFC title fights — the pinnacle of the sport of MMA — are only afforded 25 minutes. Two more rounds would bring that up 35 minutes.
It’s possible even with the additional 10 minutes, fights would still go to a decision, but it’s possible the decision becomes more clear cut with more rounds to consider. It’s also possible that an extra 10 minutes would result in more finishes happening. For a sport filled with controversy that seems to center around bad judging decisions, fans would most likely embrace more finishes in their stead. I’m sure UFC President Dana White certainly would, with his go to catchphrase of “Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges” ever present when scoring controversies do happen.
What might be good for the sport, and good for the fans, could be bad for the fighters though, at least from a health standpoint. Boxing has 36 minutes split over 12 rounds, which means 11 potential rest periods between rounds. UFC title fights would only have a potential 6 rest periods for fighting the same total length of time. MMA is gruelling enough as it is from the training and preparation, to the fight itself, and those two extra rounds could help significantly reduce champions’ and challengers’ careers.
What do BE Readers think? Would you be for or against 7 round title fights if it increased the chance of finishes and gave more clear cut decisions, but in the process shortened the careers of the fighters involved in them?
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