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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

On the surface, Khabib Nurmagomedov's decision victory over Edson Barboza seemed to be one of the most dominating three-round victories in the UFC history. After reviewing the scorecards, that was confirmed.

The three cageside judges scored the fight 30-25, 30-25 and 30-24 in favour of the Dagestani grappling whiz. Combining the three scorecards, Nurmagomedov's total advantage was 16 points. That 16-point margin was the largest difference in the history of three-round UFC decisions.

Making the feat more impressive was the fact that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has yet to adopt the new scoring criteria for the Unified Rules which support a greater use of 10-8 round scores.

Additionally impressive was that this fight broke the record without the aid of point deductions.

Nam Phan has the ignominious distinction of being the only fighter on the losing side of this list twice, as he lost two decisive decisions to Jimy Hettes and Dennis Siver.

Biggest Combined Margin of Victory in 3-Round UFC Decisions *
# Fight Scorecards Margin of
Point Deductions
1Nurmagomedov def. Barboza30-25, 30-25, 30-2416None
2Siver def. Phan30-24, 30-25, 30-2615None
-Prazeres def. Taisumov30-25, 30-25, 30-2515Taisumov was deducted 1 point in round 1: Illegal Upkick
Taisumov was deducted 1 point in round 2: Grabbing the Cage
-Usman def. Yakovlev30-25, 30-25, 30-2515Yakovlev was deducted 1 point in round 1: Grabbing the Fence
5Petz def. Morgan30-27, 30-26, 30-2314None
-Hettes def. Phan30-25, 30-25, 30-2614None
-Dillashaw def. Watson30-25, 30-25, 30-2614None
-Elliott def. Papazian30-25, 30-25, 30-2614Papazian was deducted 1 point in round 1: Illegal Knee
-Cummins def. Kingsbury30-27, 30-25, 30-2414None
-Smith def. Miller30-25, 30-25, 30-2614None
-Maia def. Nelson30-25, 30-25, 30-2614None
-Sanchez def. Rountree Jr.30-25, 30-25, 30-2614None
* - As of January 24th, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sal D'Amato was more active than all other judges at UFC events in 2017, as he returned to the top of the list of the year's busiest UFC judges. D'Amato previously topped the list in 2013 and 2015.

Jeff Mullen slotted in at the second position, up three spots from the previous year.

Last year's busiest judge, Derek Cleary, was once again a frequent presence at major MMA events in 2017. But a small decrease in total UFC scorecards saw him drop to the number three position.

New to the top 10 list in 2017 were American east coast judges Dave Tirelli and Eric Colón.

Dropping off the list in 2017 were Las Vegas judges Glenn Trowbridge and Junichiro Kamijo. Trowbridge had the biggest drop-off, only submitting scorecards in 13 UFC decisions, down from 39 in 2016.

Busiest UFC Judges of 2017 *
# Judge Events** Decisions
1Sal D'Amato2053
2Jeff Mullen1750
3Derek Cleary1947
4Marcos Rosales1234
5Chris Lee1331
6Ben Cartlidge616
-Eric Colón716
-Dave Tirelli616
9Paul Sutherland515
-Tony Weeks615
* - Not including fights stopped before decision
** - Not including worked events in which a full scorecard was not submitted

Friday, January 05, 2018

2017 was an important year in the world of MMA judging thanks to key changes to the scoring criteria in the sport's Unified Rules. Though the changes have yet to be universally implemented, their effects were already noticeable.

Of particular note was an increased prevalence of 10-8 round scores. And we even witnessed a few 10-7 round scores, unaided by point deductions.

The year was also noteworthy in that there were fewer strongly disputed decisions in major fights. There was a steep drop-off between the number one and number two entries on the 2017 list. In fact, the top 6 entries from the 2016 list were all more disputed than the number 2 entry on the 2017 list.

Enough sentences. Here are the Most Disputed Decisions of 2017:

2017's Most Disputed Decisions
Agreement with Winner
# Fight Media Fans Avg. Winner's Judges Other Judge Notes
1Lauzon def. Held0%6%3%Mullen, RosalesClearyHome-country decision
2Assunção def. Moraes6%21%13%Bravo, IorioAlvesIorio had 30-27
3Brooks def. Shelton11%21%16%Saucedo, VierraBravo-
4Oezdemir def. Saint Preux13%27%20%Ferraro, SolizD'AmatoAway-country decision
5Perez def. Soukhamthath20%21%20%Mullen, SilbertJimenezHome-country decision
6Matthews def. Velickovic21%20%21%Dimitriou, OshyerPapaioannouHome-country decision
7Woodley def. Thompson26%16%21%Cleary, LeeD'Amato-
8Murphy def. Honchak23%20%22%Cleary, KamijoMullen
9Silva def. Brunson17%33%25%Cleary, Colon, Crosby-Colon had 30-27;
Away-country decision
10Lopez def. Morales27%26%26%Cleary, Rosales, Vierra-Rosales had 30-27

  UPDATE: Silva vs. Brunson was removed from the list after a case of ballot-box stuffing (in favour of Brunson) was identified and corrected.

Honourable Mention:

Of note:

  • One title fight made the list this year: Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson. It was the second straight year that a UFC title fight made the list. Derek Cleary and Chris Lee scored in favour of the split-decision winner in both years (Lawler/Condit).
  • Including honourable mentions, Danielle Taylor is the only fighter to appear on both the 2017 and 2016 lists. In both cases, she won the fight.
  • No single event had more than one entry on this year's list.
  • Derek Cleary sided with the winner in four of the ten fights on the list. Though, they were the bottom four entries on the list. Also, Cleary was the year's most active judge in all fights tracked by MMAdecisions.com. Cleary was also the one judge who submitted a scorecard for Marcin Held in the year's most disputed decision.
  • Sal D'Amato submitted 53 complete scorecards in UFC fights in 2017, more than any other judge. However, he did not side with the winner in any of the fights on this year's list. D'Amato also achieved this feat in 2015.

Home-Country Decisions*

"Home-Country Decisions", by definition, are those fights in which the winner hailed from the country in which the fight was held and his/her opponent was from another country. Conversely, if the loser was from the event's country and his/her opponent was from elsewhere, the fight was marked as an "away-country decision".

* - Marking these fights as such does not imply that the judges held a geographical bias of any sort; it is merely an objective observation.

Selection Criteria

  • Only decisions in which more than two-thirds of the tracked media scores disagreed with the actual winner AND decisions in which more than two-thirds of the submitted fan scorecards disagreed with the actual winner were included.
  • A fight must have a minimum of 6 media scores.
  • A fight must have a minimum of 15 fan scorecards.
  • Draws were excluded.
  • Only fights from Bellator, Cage Warriors, Invicta, KSW, World Series of Fighting and the UFC were considered.

Sources of Bias

There are several possible sources of bias that could have affected the members and order of this list. Those sources include:

  • Loser Bias: Fans who disagree with the outcome are more likely to submit a scorecard than those who are content with the decision.
  • Geographical Bias (Fans): Sometimes certain countries generate more traffic than others, which could lead to a bias in fan voting.
  • Geographical Bias (Media): The media scorecards tracked on this site are predominantly submitted by US-based media members.
  • Small Sample Size: with thresholds set at 6 media members and 15 fan scorecards, it is quite possible that those small thresholds could yield results that vary significantly from the general MMA populace.
  • UFC Bias: Because of the dearth of media and fan scores in other organizations, very few non-UFC decisions meet the thresholds for consideration.
Sunday, September 24, 2017

In light of Adalaide Byrd's controversial 118-110 scorecard in favour of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in his titanic fight against Gennady Golovkin last weekend, we take a look at eight of Byrd's most questionable judging moments in MMA.

Note: this list is not necessarily meant to be an indictment of Byrd's ability to judge an MMA fight. Any judge with a significant number of fights on his or her ledger will undoubtedly have several debatable decisions to their name.

Clay Guida vs. Marcus Aurelio

UFC 74
August 25, 2007
Byrd: 29-28 Aurelio (View Scorecards)

With Clay Guida prone to being in split decisions, and Byrd's propensity for controversy, it may not be surprising that this result was disputed.

In round one, Guida seemingly secured the frame when he scored a clean knockdown of Aurelio. In round two, Guida landed three times as many strikes as Aurelio, according to FightMetric.com. Those two rounds alone should have been enough to earn Guida a comfortable decision.

In fact, all three tracked media outlets and two of the three judges thought Guida earned a 3-0 sweep in rounds. But it was Byrd who dissented, managing to find two of three rounds to give to Aurelio.

Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan

TUF 12 Finale
December 4, 2010
Byrd: 29-28 Garcia (View Scorecards)

This was one of Byrd's earliest brushes with MMA infamy, but one she shared with fellow Nevadan judge Tony Weeks, as they both scored this slugfest for Leonard Garcia.

The first round was debateable, as evidenced by the FightMetric.com striking stats. But Garcia's windmill-style punches became decreasingly effective as the fight wore on, with Phan consistently outlanding his opponent.

But both Byrd and Weeks saw the third round for Garcia, giving him the fight. All five tracked media scorers disagreed, as did 39 of 41 fan scorecards.

Jake Ellenberger vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

UFC 126
February 5, 2011
Byrd: 30-27 Rocha (View Scorecards)

It's not often the fighter on the losing end of a three-round decision manages to win 30-27 on the dissenting judge's scorecard. This was one of those cases.

After Rocha won the first round in most viewer's eyes, Ellenberger went only to control and win the next two rounds according to two of the three judges.

Not only did Adalaide Byrd's scorecard have Rocha winning, it had him winning all three rounds. None of the tracked media scorers or fan scorecards submitted to MMAdecisions.com had Rocha winning either one of the final two rounds.

Nate James vs. Danillo Villefort, Round 1

ShoMMA 18
August 12, 2011
Byrd: 10-9 James (Round 1) (View Scorecards)

The contention in this scorecard is the first round, a round that could be divided into three segments.

The first half of the round was spent at striking range, with neither fighter getting a distinct advantage. From there, the fight moved to the clinch, with Villefort largely pinning James against the cage, but with few significant strikes from either fighter. Finally, Villefort was able to take James to the mat with a judo toss, move to mount and then to James' back. Villefort threatened to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke and ended the round in the dominant position, seemingly securing the round.

Commentators Stephen Quadros and Pat Miletich declared that Villefort won the round, as did all three tracked media scorers. And so did all cageside judges not named Adalaide Byrd.

Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard

UFC 155
December 29, 2012
Byrd: 30-27 Guillard (View Scorecards)

To most observers, the only question after three rounds of action was whether or not Varner won two or three rounds of the fight. In fact, two of the judges thought Varner swept all three rounds.

Byrd agreed that there was a shutout, but instead for Guillard, 30-27.

All ten tracked media scorers saw the fight for Varner. And only 2 out of 59 fan scorecards submitted to MMAdecisions.com agreed that Guillard won the fight, and those were only by 29-28 totals.

Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie, Round 1

UFC 162
July 6, 2013
Byrd: 10-9 Kennedy (Round 1) (View Scorecards)

Though there was no argument that Tim Kennedy won this fight, many onlookers were shocked to hear that two of the three judges awarded Kennedy the first round. Those two judges were Adalaide Byrd and Glenn Trowbridge.

Gracie, the world-renowned jiu jitsu ace, spent over 90 seconds of the first frame with back control, in a round where Kennedy was unable to land a single recorded strike to Gracie's head. Yet, Byrd and Trowbridge found enough justification to give the American a 10-9 advantage.

Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Phillipe Nover

UFC Fight Night 80
December 10, 2015
Byrd: 29-28 Nover (View Scorecards)

Only seven months after being the benefactor of a questionable split decision win over Yui Chul Nam, Phillipe Nover once again found himself dealing with a contentious scorecard.

This time, Nover was only able to sway one of the judges in his favour -- that judge being Adalaide Byrd. None of the 13 tracked media scorers agreed with Byrd, nor did any of the 18 submitted fan scorecards.

Bryan Caraway vs. Aljamain Sterling

UFC Fight Night 88
May 29, 2016
Byrd: 29-28 Sterling (View Scorecards)

When the final bell sounded in round three of this fight, most observers figured the decision boiled down to one question: did Sterling do enough in round one to earn a 10-8 score? Popular opinion was that this would have earned Sterling a draw, since the second and third rounds were clear Caraway rounds. Or so they thought.

As it turned out, Byrd didn't give a 10-8 in round one and somehow saw enough evidence to give Sterling the second round. This resulted in a 29-28 Sterling scorecard, which differed from all 25 of the tracked media scorers, and the other two cageside judges.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

When it came to submitting UFC scorecards for decisions in 2016, Derek Cleary was more prolific than all other judges. He submitted scorecards in 60 UFC fights that went the distance. It is the first time that Cleary has topped this category. It is only the second year since 2010 in which a judge other than Sal D'Amato has submitted the most UFC scorecards.

With his 60 UFC decisions, Cleary broke D'Amato's record of 53 scorecards, set in 2013. D'Amato's total of 56 in 2016 would have been enough to break his old record if not for Cleary's total.

Cleary and D'Amato tied for the most number of UFC events worked with 22. No other judge submitted full scorecards in more than 15 UFC events.

Busiest UFC Judges of 2016 *
# Judge Events** Decisions
1Derek Cleary2260
2Sal D'Amato2256
3Glenn Trowbridge1539
4Chris Lee1437
5Jeff Mullen1533
6Tony Weeks1332
7Marcos Rosales1429
8Paul Sutherland719
9Junichiro Kamijo818
10Ben Cartlidge517
* - Not including fights stopped before decision
** - Not including worked events in which a full scorecard was not submitted

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