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Posted on March 3, 2012 by John Petit
Demitrious Johnson and Ian McCall fought last night at UFC on FX 2 as part of the flyweight tournament. The UFC had expected something like this may happen, and even put a measure in place to have an extra round, but unfortunately that never took place. There seems to be a lot of confusion from fans because of a picture taken of the scorecard right after the fight. When you read the card, it says what was announced in the cage, but where is the mistake? This is causing some people to babble at length about conspiracies and all kinds of nonsense. I thought I would write a little about the procedure of scoring fights by the commission to alleviate some of this needless gum flapping.
After a round is finished, the judges of the fight use the ten point must system, and award the round to one of the fighters. He or she writes down the score of the round, and who won the round. Those pieces of paper are collected from all three judges, and brought to the scorers table near the ring. The score-keeper then writes down the scores from all 3 judges on the official score card. The same is done after every round, and once the score sheet is filled out after the fight, the card is checked and handed to the announcer to announce the winner of the bout.
So where did it all go wrong? Sal D’Amato’s scorecard was most likely messy or hard to read. What happened was a transcription error. The official score-keeper wrote down the wrong score for the last round, where he gave the round to McCall 10-8. The score-keeper(not the judge) wrote down 10-9, and that’s how Johnson became the winner. I know its really funny to make “How many Aussies does it take to add up a score card correctly?” jokes, but that doesn’t apply here. [It did in New Mexico where it took the commission months to figure out that they didn’t add up the score card right in the Chris Cammozzi and Joey Villasenor bout.]
This is a human error, and they happen in every sport. It really sucks that it happened on such a big stage where the stakes were so high, but we should be happy the mistake was caught and the right thing will eventually be done. The only way to really avoid this from happening in the future is to automate the whole process. Give each judge a small interface where they select the winner and the score, and after it makes you validate your choice you hit enter and it all gets fed into one main computer. After the third round, each judge gets sent a list of their scores for the rounds, and for a third time they will validate the scores. Some commissions will complain about costs, but the hardware, software, and training could probably be purchased for less than 3 grand. We can’t take the human element out of judging fights, but we can make it as easy as running a cash register at your local McDonald’s.