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MMA: More questions than answers post UFC167

A round-up of the latest events and talking points from the world of Mixed Martial Arts

It’s just over a week now since UFC 167 took place in Las Vegas. The 20th anniversary celebratory event was much hyped, with the main event featuring their biggest pay-per-view star Georges St Pierre (GSP) against fearsome challenger Johny Hendricks. What transpired was extraordinary, controversial, and has provoked debate across the MMA community.

GSP went into the bout as a heavy favourite having not lost in over six years. It quickly became apparent that this night would be different. In a tightly contested first round, GSP for the first time had met his match in wrestling and seemed to be getting out struck in the stand up exchanges. By the end of the fight, the majority of the media and experts had the same opinion of the fight; whilst close and exciting in patches, Hendricks had won three rounds (two of them easily) and GSP had won two. The Judges disagreed. 

Having been rocked in the fight, GSP’s face was swollen and bloodied whilst Hendricks looked like he’d merely broken a sweat. Then the announcement came and by a split decision, GSP had retained his title. A dazed GSP announced to the booing crowd that he “needed some time away” due to personal problems. 

With UFC president, Dana White, angry at the decision and GSP’s immediate intentions, there were three ensuing questions...


1) Was the result of the fight correct?

In MMA, visible damage is not taken into account when scoring. Some fighters get cut or bruised far easier than others and it’s not always a sign they are losing a round.  

All three judges agreed on rounds 2-5, scoring 2 and 4 for Hendricks, and 3 and 5 for GSP. The difference in opinion was the first round, which was very close and could legitimately have been scored for either fighter. 

Under the 10 point must system, there was a case for both fighters.


2) Does the 10 point must system work in MMA?

When rules and regulations were introduced in the late 90’s, the UFC took on the scoring system that existed in boxing. The “10 point must system” is so named because a judge must award 10 points to at least one fighter. In boxing, this works well because you award the fighter who has been more dominant with a 10-9 round with a 10-8 round being awarded after a knock down. 

In MMA there are too many intricacies and skill sets for this to give an accurate portrayal of a fight; Knockdowns and takedowns are scored, though it is not apparent how much they are worth. 10-8 rounds are rarely awarded due to a lack of clarity as to when they should be given. Utterly dominant rounds tend to be scored equally to rounds that are nip and tuck.

A new system needs to be devised, though because it is a fight sport, it must be the athletic commissions that introduce it rather than the UFC.


3) Was GSP right to leave his situation in limbo?

GSP is the only person who knows exactly what he’s going through. If, however he wishes to take a break from the sport, he should give up his world title. A fighting career is a short career and for him to take a long hiatus would negatively impact others in the welterweight division. If he wants to continue his career, a rematch is inevitable. 

In the aftermath of the hoopla and excitement at UFC 167, one fact remains; 20 years on from its creation, the UFC is here to stay.