I can’t imagine which fight the judges were watching last night as two titans of the Welterweight Division met in the first great MMA matchup of 2016. Robbie Lawler met Carlos Condit for the UFC Championship in Las Vegas for a long-waited battle headlining UFC 195. While it was an extremely competitive bout, the outcome seemed apparent until the judges ruling was announced. I was speechless as “Ruthless Robbie” retained his title on a split-decision, despite being out-landed at a 3-1 ratio during their five-round brawl.
Condit was dominant from the first bell using lateral movement and strikes thrown from every angle imaginable. Regardless of the fact that the champion was coming forward, the challenger continued controlling the pace of the fight throughout.
The pace of a fight is not necessarily set by the perceived aggressor, but by a fighter’s “effective” aggressiveness. Robbie merely chased Carlos, while Condit peppered him with kicks and punches as he circled, piling-up points. The combatant controlling the fight is the fighter who determines when, where and how engagements occur - not necessarily the one coming forward. This is a frequent misconception held by casual observers - and obviously some judges.
Boxing is essentially judged upon three criteria: effective aggressiveness (punches/strikes landed), defense, and ring generalship. MMA has added elements like take-downs, floor control and submissions, but - except for one scramble - none of that came into play in this fight. It was a standup fight resembling a Muay Thai bout. It was all about striking.
By the end of the fourth round, Carlos Condit had easily taken three rounds. Lawyer indisputably won round two with a knockdown and dominant punching. Rounds one and four were Condit’s by virtue of an overwhelming ratio of strikes and superb defense. Round three was a close one, but “The Natural Born Killer” won it by being the busier fighter. Even though Lawler stunned Condit in the last 90 seconds of the final round, Condit dominated the first three and a half minutes with sharp combinations. Since Conduit was no more hurt in round five than Lawler was in the first, it could only be ruled an even round for Lawler, at best. I had the fight 3-1-1 for Condit, but could understand giving Lawler two rounds.
There is sometimes a rationalization among judges that a fighter who is out-struck can redeem himself/herself by landing the “harder punches.” This is a practice that should be shunned. Nobody except the participants can determine the power of a punch unless there is a knockout, a knockdown, or if one of the fighters is obviously staggered. There are no pressure pads attached to the contestants which can scientifically measure the foot-pounds of energy generated by the punches. Since no such technology exists, this subjective evaluation should be banished from combat sports, and judges who employ it as an excuse for incompetent judging should be run out of the fight game. Subjectivity is already too influential.
Still, hats off to Robbie Lawler, who - thanking the stars for a split-decision gift from the Gods - proclaimed that there were two winners last night, and suggested they “do it again.” I couldn’t agree more. But next time let’s get some objective judges.
Other essays and articles by Charles Long can be found
in the boxing and MMA sections of Convicted Artist. He is the author of “Adventures in the Scream Trade - Scenes from an
Operatic Life,” available from Amazon and Barnes &
"Adventures in the Scream Trade - Scenes from an
Operatic Life" available for preview on iTunes