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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.


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