McNeil: UFC 104 Called As Seen

October 30, 2009

Franklin McNeil over at ESPN makes the case for UFC 104 judges Peoples, Rosales, and Hamilton:

Each judge has scored hundreds of MMA bouts, professional and amateur. They have met every requirement set forth by this country’s most influential athletic commissions, and each attends judging seminars regularly. Hamilton, Rosales and Peoples are more than qualified to score fights.


On Saturday night, they had a very difficult one to score. Machida-Rua was a strategic, carefully contested bout. Several rounds could have gone either way.


When the fight was over, all three judges scored it 48-47 for Machida ( had Rua winning 48-47). The judges, however, weren’t totally in sync. They didn’t agree on how the champ won.


Peoples and Rosales gave the first three rounds to Machida. However, Hamilton had the champ taking the middle rounds. Round 5 was the only one in which all three judges favored Rua.


While most observers disagreed with the judges’ scorecards, they also didn’t see eye-to-eye on which rounds to give Rua.


“I noticed that a lot of people on the Internet gave the first, second and third rounds to Machida,” Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer told “Almost everybody gave the fourth and fifth rounds to Rua.


“There were also a lot of people who gave the first, second and third rounds to Rua. You could have went 50-45 for Rua or 48-47 for Machida and not have been wrong.


“Some fans are under the impression that if two judges scored it the same, then the third judge must be wrong. Not necessarily. It depends on the angles from which the judges saw the fight.”


Where a judge is seated at a particular time during the action must be taken into account. Judges have the best seats in the house, but they don’t always have a clear line of vision.

Payout Perspective:

The MMA community – perhaps more accurately, the MMA media – have in the last week done what they do best: sensationalize. Machida-Rua was a close fight, and different view points were bound to lead to different opinions and perceived outcomes.

The MMA community needs to come to terms with the fact that mistakes are going to happen, controversy is going to ensue, and there just isn’t always going to be a right answer. All the promoters, fighters, and fans can do is continue to support the sport – whether MMA reaches the pinnacle of mainstream acceptance is in some respects very much out of their control.


Regardless of your opinion on sensationalism within the MMA community, the issue of judging in MMA has yet again been raised. Should they change the scoring system? Is it a judge quality issue? Or might this simply be a part of the subjectivity inherent within the fight game? has advocated before that a new scoring system is probably in order – one that involves greater usage of 10-10 and 10-8 rounds – but that’s a very large undertaking.

If MMA makes any alterations to the way matches are judged or officiated, they must be for the better, and they musn’t be done on a whim because a few fights stirred up some controversy.

9 Responses to “McNeil: UFC 104 Called As Seen”

  1. Jemaleddin on October 30th, 2009 8:29 AM

    Oh, well if noted [hack] journalist Franklin McNeil tells us that we should trust noted [hack] judge Cecil Peoples, then I guess that should be good enough.

    I’m sorry, but any time your argument comes down to, “I going to have to disagree with FightMetric and side with Cecil Peoples,” you know you’re going down the wrong path.

  2. Machiel Van on October 30th, 2009 9:29 AM

    The only unarguable part of the fight was that Rua had Octagon control. Also, let’s keep in mind that Peoples stated, in regards to Rua’s constant brutal leg kicks, that “You have to keep in mind we always the favor the fighter who is trying to finish the fight, and leg kicks certainly don’t do that.” ( This reflects a poor understanding of MMA, despite all these “seminars.” Peoples has obviously never seen Pat Barry chop down Dan Evensen at UFC 92, or more recently Brandon Vera chop down Mike Patt at UFC 96, both instances where leg kicks did indeed finish fights. If these seminars and state athletic commissions requirements haven’t given him a proper understanding of the effectiveness of leg kicks, than the seminars are ineffective and the athletic commissions need to adopt a higher standard for their judges. Sorry McNeil, but Peoples statement calls your analysis into question.

  3. Machiel Van on October 30th, 2009 9:31 AM

    Please note the link doesn’t work because of the parenthesis. Take them out and you can view the article.

  4. danielle on October 30th, 2009 9:31 AM

    Cecil Peoples statement about leg kicks should disqualify him as a judge.

  5. JJ on October 30th, 2009 11:30 AM

    Machiel Van:

    Great point on the TKO finishes of leg kicks, they can be a devastating device when properly executed.

    I think it is also worthy of noting that Quinton Jackson lost his title to Forrest Griffen quite arguably by the leg kicks that Forrest used to pulverize Quinton’s legs. Out of curiosity does anyone know who the judges were in that fight?

    Rua also did a great deal of damage with his kicks to the right side of Lyoto’s body.

    It was a close fight, but there is little question in my mind who was more aggressive and doing more damage. Shouldn’t that be how you win a fight?

    If not a revamp of the judging rules, there should at the very least be a clear and definitive rule set of scoring criteria made available publicly, not just a basic guideline that they glaze over at the beginning of the event.

    The new Japanese open scoring system was fantastic and made judges more accountable for their choices while the rounds were fresh in everyone’s minds, although it slightly affects the suspense of a decision victory. However fighters definitely know when they have to turn up the heat to win a fight, there is no guessing as to whether you are winning or losing on the judges scorecards which could in turn make for more exciting fights.

  6. Brandt on October 30th, 2009 12:31 PM

    This is ESPN we are talking about here. Did anyone really expect something innovative? Cecil Peoples is a horrible judge and has horrible judged hundreds of fights. It doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing.

  7. Dallas Winston on October 31st, 2009 7:05 AM

    Cecil Peoples has conducted two interviews explaining his reasoning for the way he scored the fight, and the foundation of his decisions are in direct conflict with the way the judging criteria is spelled out in the unified rules.

    I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but I’m uncertain as to how a media focus on a judge plainly stating erroneous interpretations of the unified scoring criteria in one of the most controversial rulings in MMA history (in an attempt to justify his decision) as “sensationalism”.

  8. Dallas Winston on October 31st, 2009 7:12 AM

    From JJ:

    “If not a revamp of the judging rules, there should at the very least be a clear and definitive rule set of scoring criteria made available publicly…”

    There is:

    This article compares Peoples’ explanation of his scoring versus how the unified rules spell out the scoring criteria:

    I’m an MMAPayout fan, and the piece above is very well written. I agree there is always going to be controversy and disagreements, but that is the case when judges properly follow the unified scoring criteria.

    When we have judges improperly implementing the criteria, the controversy will run rampant, and continue to.

    In my humble opinion, of course.

  9. Caidel on November 2nd, 2009 4:54 AM

    Machiel Van: Scoring lowkick is a pretty tricky, I think. I’m actually inclined to side with Peoples here a little bit and I will try to explain my POV.

    Of course, that lowkicks can finish a fight. But that’s exactly my point: If lowkicks doesn’t end particular fight (or at least don’t get receiving fighter to heavy limping state) I wouldn’t count them for that much. I would point them to certain extent, but there is no way that lowkick should get same relative value as succesfull headstrike. (also it is pretty hard to say if that lowkick was properly checked (that means basically defended) or not. Machida was certainly damaged by that lowkicks, but it had not that much of a immediate impact. (more the day after). Also, Shogun scored basically one hit at time, but only combinations, flurries and attacks when fighter was in danger were from Machida (serie of knees in first round, boxing combinations in other rounds).

    I also thought, that Rua won that (48-47), but in my mind, I certainly can score it also 48-47 for Machida, it depends on just which things in that fight emphasize. It was a close fight and hence, I hate when everyone starts to shout “scandal / robbery” etc… Basically, if it is a close fight, it cannot really be a robbery.

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