It has been over five years since MMAdecisions.com has examined the causes of draws in the UFC, so let's take an updated look.
To set the table, there are relatively few draws in MMA fights because with an uneven number of rounds, if all judges score all rounds 10-9 (without point deductions), then it is impossible for the result to be a draw. Consequently, there are three primary reasons why an MMA fight would end in a draw:
- There was at least one 10-8 round scored in the fight
- There was at least one 10-10 round scored in the fight
- There was a point deducted by the referee for a foul
The time frame from 2016-2017 saw the greatest frequency of draws, with 12 occurring in the UFC during that period. However, there have only been two since, and none so far in 2019.
Of the 29 fights on the list, 16 were caused by 10-8 rounds, 10 were caused by point deductions, and 4 were caused by 10-10 rounds. (Note that one fight was caused by both a 10-10 round and a 10-8 round, so it was double counted)
- Caol Uno, BJ Penn, and Lando Vannata have been involved in two UFC draws.
- Ken Shamrock fought to two time-limit draws in SEG-era UFC fights.
- There was only 1 UFC draw between June 6, 2003 and November 20, 2009.
Another year has come and gone, and once again it was Sal D'Amato who tops the year's list of the busiest UFC judges. D'Amato also led this list in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
In second place is another stalwart on the UFC judging scene, Chris Lee, who submitted completed scorecards in 59 UFC decisions in 2018.
Rounding out the podium is Derek Cleary, who remains a cageside fixture at UFC events. 2016's busiest judge tallied a total of 44 UFC scorecards in 2018.
Last year's second busiest judge, Jeff Mullen, did not record a scorecard tracked on MMAdecisions.com in 2018.
New to the top 10 list in 2018 were American west coast judges Dave Hagen and Michael Bell, plus Brazilian judges Guilherme Bravo, none of whom had made the list previously. Also added to the list in 2018 were veterans Glenn Trowbridge and Douglas Crosby.
In addition to Mullen, those dropping off the list in 2018 were British judge Ben Cartlidge and Paul Sutherland, plus American east coast judge Eric Colón.
Using a combined measurement of media and fan scoring percentages, MMAdecisions.com has compiled a list of the 2018's most disputed decisions:
|2018's Most Disputed Decisions|
||Agreement with Winner
|1||Khabilov def. Johnson||8%||8%||8%||Cartlidge, Motylewski||Lethaby||Home-country decision|
|2||Moraes def. Means||7%||12%||10%||Iorio, Weeks||Rosales||Home-country decision|
|3||Nurmagomedov def. Scoggins||0%||23%||11%||Hagen, Rosales||Mikkelson||Away-country decision|
|4||Ottow def. Grant||8%||16%||12%||Lee, Winter||Puccillo||-|
|5||Ray def. Ayari||8%||25%||17%||Doiron, Earle, LeBlanc||-||Earle had 30-27|
|6||Waterson def. Casey||6%||29%||17%||Flores, Hagen||D'Amato||-|
|7||Till def. Thompson||12%||28%||20%||Collett, Roberts, Sutherland||-||Home-country decision|
|8||Yoder def. Cooper||12%||29%||20%||Cleary, Thrasher||Van Tine|
|9||Perez def. Wineland||13%||29%||21%||Hagen, Mikkelson, Weeks||-||Away-country decision|
|10||Kim def. Kish||27%||16%||21%||Elliott, Urso||D'Amato||Away-country decision|
- The year's most disputed decision, Johnson vs. Khabilov, would not have topped the list if it had occurred in any of the previous 5 years.
- Though none of his fights cracked the top ten, Dennis Bermudez may feel the most aggrieved of any fighter in 2018. He lost two fights by split decision in which both the fans and the media collectively agreed that he should have won. Dating back to 2017, this marks three straight split decision losses for "The Menace" in which he was favoured by the media scorers.
- If our boxing fights were included on this list, the Canelo vs. Golovkin rematch would have been the 4th most disputed decision of the year.
- American-born fighters seemed to get the short end of the stick this year. Four of the top 10 fights involved a non-American-born fighter defeating an American-born fighter, but there were no fights with the opposite scenario.
- Dave Hagen submitted scorecards for the winner in three of the ten fights on this year's list. Hagen was the 4th most active judge in UFC decisions in 2018, submitting completed scorecards in 21 total UFC fights.
- For the second straight year, Sal D'Amato submitted more UFC scorecards than any other judge and also avoided siding with the winner in any fight on this list. D'Amato has achieved this feat in 3 of the last 4 years.
"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.
- 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.
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 *|
|1||Nurmagomedov def. Barboza||30-25, 30-25, 30-24||16||None|
|2||Siver def. Phan||30-24, 30-25, 30-26||15||None|
|-||Prazeres def. Taisumov||30-25, 30-25, 30-25||15||Taisumov was deducted 1 point in round 1: Illegal Upkick|
Taisumov was deducted 1 point in round 2: Grabbing the Cage
|-||Usman def. Yakovlev||30-25, 30-25, 30-25||15||Yakovlev was deducted 1 point in round 1: Grabbing the Fence|
|5||Petz def. Morgan||30-27, 30-26, 30-23||14||None|
|-||Hettes def. Phan||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||None|
|-||Dillashaw def. Watson||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||None|
|-||Elliott def. Papazian||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||Papazian was deducted 1 point in round 1: Illegal Knee|
|-||Cummins def. Kingsbury||30-27, 30-25, 30-24||14||None|
|-||Smith def. Miller||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||None|
|-||Maia def. Nelson||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||None|
|-||Sanchez def. Rountree Jr.||30-25, 30-25, 30-26||14||None|
* - As of January 24th, 2018|