They didn’t, of course — no one who saw the WEC Amp Energy featherweight title bout last night would have any doubt about the winner of the fight. The guy who walked out without a scratch (Jose Aldo) rightfully kept the belt. The guy who was carried back to his corner and was doubled over in pain from being used as a kickboxing bag (Urijah Faber) lost a lopsided decision.
But if a couple of judging trends had continued, Faber could’ve taken an absurd victory despite Aldo’s domination in everyone’s eyes and in the FightMetric stats. Those trends are:
1. Reticence to give 10-8 rounds unless someone is gushing blood. Round 4 was all Aldo. He knocked Faber down, worked for submission attempts (not credited at FightMetric) and pummeled him. Round 3 wasn’t much better for Faber. But one judge scored the fight 50-45, either giving a very rare 10-10 round somewhere or scoring all five rounds 10-9. (The other cards were 49-45, most likely one 10-9 for Faber, three 10-9s for Aldo and one 10-8.)
2. Lack of interest in leg kicks. Judge Cecil Peoples justified the decision in favor of Lyoto Machida over Shogun Rua in part by shrugging off Rua’s leg kicks, saying they don’t finish a fight. The typical response: Maybe a leg kick isn’t as potent as a power shot to the head, but they add up. Faber would surely agree. But if you have little interest in leg kicks, you probably wouldn’t give a 10-8 to Aldo in any round, and you might even give Round 2 to Faber.
3. Giving the “busier” fighter the edge in a close round. A couple of people I follow on Twitter, including the UFC feed with guest Twitster/popular fighter Kurt Pellegrino, gave Round 1 to Faber. The FightMetric stats also tilt toward Faber for that round. I gave it to Aldo because I thought his shots were more effective, something FightMetric isn’t designed to measure.
I gave Round 5 to Faber because Aldo was clearly on cruise control and hardly threw a thing. Faber was pressing the action as best he could with two badly battered legs among his injuries.
So if you give Aldo 10-9 scores in Rounds 3 and 4 because Faber’s face was still intact, if you shrug off the leg kicks and give Faber Round 2, and if you give Rounds 1 and 5 to Faber … voila! Faber wins 48-47!
Obviously, that shouldn’t have happened. And it didn’t. The judges made the right call. But judging is something that has to be continually monitored so that a different group of judges watching roughly the same fight doesn’t get it horribly wrong.