Edgar-Penn UFC lightweight bout: Tell it to the judge

Depending on whom you ask, last night’s lightweight title fight at UFC 112 was either a thrilling win for a heavy underdog, a travesty of MMA judging or a fight that was too close to call. The official decision: Frankie Edgar upset BJ Penn to win the UFC lightweight belt, with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47.

The angriest reaction came from Sherdog’s Tomas Rios: “It was a matter of time before substandard judging ruined a title bout.”

SI’s Josh Gross had it 48-47 Penn but sees a solid argument for 48-47 Edgar. He’s only irritated with the 50-45 and perhaps the 49-48. That’s a pretty common view among the more reasonable pundits, including FanHouse’s Ray Hui.

Bloody Elbow’s Leland Roling also had it 48-47 Penn but comes up with an intriguing argument to explain why the judges saw it that way: Judges are looking up through a cage, while those of us at home are seeing a more pristine camera feed. From their vantage point, Edgar’s speedy combinations looked more impressive.

Having been cageside, I can agree to an extent that it’s a different view. But when you’re cageside, you also get a greater sense of a strike’s impact. You hear it and see the effect.

And from cageside, Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole showed little patience for anyone arguing the decision. “Edgar won the fight in nearly everyone’s eyes,” he Tweeted.

Back in the USA, a few time zones away from the new Abu Dhabi stadium constructed for this fight card, MMAJunkie.com scored the fight 48-47 Edgar, as did my longtime USA TODAY colleague Sergio Non, who has also rounded up arguments on each side.

Even the stats provide no consensus. FightMetric gives Penn a 49-46 victory but seems to be undervaluing Edgar’s edge in grappling. Compustrike‘s total numbers favor Edgar, but it’s difficult to give the third round either way.

As Sergio says, “even statistics leave gray areas.” They don’t measure strikes’ effectiveness or show which fighter was pushing the pace.

One person isn’t complaining, and it’s someone who is rarely known for letting offenses go without a few words. It’s BJ Penn, who graciously thanks his fans and congratulates Edgar, the new champion, in this video:

http://static.ning.com/socialnetworkmain/widgets/video/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf?v=201004051300
Find more videos like this on BJPENN.COM

HT: Bloody Elbow

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