Bad judging decisions have always been a common occurrence in the sport of MMA. While we can be lenient with judges in a competitive battle, there have been instances where a fighter who appeared to be on the course of victory ended up losing the bout.
From champions to highly touted prospects, all have been victims of bad judging. These days in MMA, we call it a ‘robbery’.
Some of those decisions didn’t sit well with the MMA community either. Today, we take a look at five such judging decisions that made MMA fans furious.
#5 Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua 1
MMA veteran Lyoto Machida’s first title defense was against Mauricio Rua at UFC 104 in 2009. He had defeated Rashad Evans in his previous outing to capture the light heavyweight championship.
Machida and Rua were able to stretch the fight to the distance at UFC 104. During their hard-fought contest, ‘Shogun’ consistently blazed Machida with his stinging leg kicks.
Rua seemingly controlled the majority of the fight and outstruck his compatriot in four out of the five rounds. He was aggressive in his approach and it looked like Machida would be dethroned.
However, all three judges scored the contest 48-47 in the favor of ‘The Dragon’. During Machida’s post-fight interview, the crowd erupted in boos at the Staples Center.
MMA fans criticized the judges’ decision, so much so that the UFC was forced to reward Rua with a win bonus. Despite losing the fight, ‘Shogun’ walked home with a big payday.
Both men collided in a rematch at UFC 113, where Rua knocked out Machida in the first round and won the UFC light heavyweight championship. He lost the title to Jon Jones in his next fight.
#4 Gleison Tibau vs. Rory MacDonald
Former UFC stars Rory MacDonald and Gleison Tibau headlined the recently concluded PFL 5 event. While a win could have seen MacDonald confirm his place in the play-offs, Tibau needed a finish if he was to survive in the PFL 2021 season. At the end of the three-round main event, Tibau was controversially declared the winner of the fight.
MacDonald looked extremely sharp with his striking throughout the 15 minutes. He dictated the fight in the opening frame, landing shots to the body and mixing it up with razor-sharp jabs to the head.
Although Tibau stuffed a slew of MacDonald’s takedown attempts, he couldn’t cause much damage to the former UFC welterweight. Two of the judges somehow scored the fight 29-28 in Tibau’s favour, while one gave it to MacDonald.
After the fight, the MMA community heavily condemned the judging at PFL 5.
#3 Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill
Michael Bisping and Matt Hamill met inside the octagon at UFC 75 in 2007. Both fighters were undefeated and the promotion had heavily publicized the clash since the event took place in Bisping’s home country. ‘The Count’ was considered favorite to win the fight despite his size disadvantage in the light heavyweight division.
Hamill, who was relatively inexperienced compared to Bisping, put on an impressive performance. He outclassed the Englishman on the feet and also displayed superior wrestling.
In the third round, Bisping was more aggressive as he outstruck ‘The Hammer’. However, Hamill enjoyed some ground control in the final frame that MMA fans thought was enough for him to take the victory. Still, two judges gave the fight to Bisping with scores of 29-28.
Later, fans suspected that Bisping was declared the winner simply because the event was held in England.
#2 Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
George St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks was shrouded in ccontroversy The two faced each other at UFC 167 in 2013, where St-Pierre cruised to victory in what was one of UFC’s most controversial fights of all time.
Considering the buckets of talent that ‘GSP’ and Hendricks were, their highly-anticipated fight was always expected to be a close contest. Two judges scored the fight 48-47 for St-Pierre, while one gave the nod to Hendricks, which enraged the fans.
All the major MMA outlets and MMA pundits agreed that ‘Bigg Rigg’ should have been the new UFC welterweight champion. Immediately after the fight, St-Peirre announced his retirement, adding fuel to the fire.
#1 Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Guy Mezger at Japanese MMA promotion, Pride FC
Pride FC was still in its early days when pro wrestling phenom Kazushi Sakuraba challenged Guy Mezger in the promotion’s Grand Prix tournament.
It was a one-round MMA fight that stretched to 15 minutes. Much like the rules at ONE Championship, judges were scoring the fight on the whole.
Although Mezger completely dictated the fight at his will throughout the grueling 15 minutes, the judges ruled the contest as a draw, meaning that the fight would go into overtime.
Mezger’s teammate and coach, Ken Shamrock, who is not known for keeping his temper, barged into the ring and confronted the referee. He ordered Mezger and his corner to forfeit the match, which gave Sakaruba the victory.
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