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The Numbers Say BJ Penn Beat Frankie Edgar (Update: Judge’s Bizarre Explanation)

Lost in the shuffle of all the Anderson Silva fallout was Frankie Edgar’s stunning upset victory over BJ Penn at UFC 112. The judges awarded Edgar the unanimous decision with scores of 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story though, especially the 50-45. The fight was close and difficult to score. In a way it was reminiscent of Machida-Shogun. In that fight, Lyoto Machida retained his title, but the stats (and overwhelming popular opinion) said he lost. In this fight, the challenger won, however once again the numbers say the judges awarded the decision to the wrong fighter.

According to FightMetric’s statistical analysis, BJ Penn should have won the fight 49-47. When you look at the round by round breakdown in the FightMetric analysis, Penn clearly won the first three rounds with the fourth a draw and the fifth heavily in favor of Edgar.

In the scope of the rules, I suppose BJ Penn should have won, but you know what, the 10-point must system sucks. I’m sticking with my initial reaction. Watching it live, it really felt like Edgar pulled off the upset with the way he took it to Penn in the final round. When you have a really close fight like that and one fighter finishes the fight definitively stronger than the other, that fighter deserves to win in my opinion. That’s why you won’t see me raising hell about Edgar winning even if technically he should have lost.

Update: Compustrike’s numbers are out and while they don’t have all the bells and whistles that tell us who should have won, the raw numbers seem to suggest BJ Penn won the first three rounds, or at least the first two (third could could be a draw), and Edgar won the fourth and fifth. Overall though, Frankie Edgar landed nine more strikes (two less power strikes) and secured two takedowns to BJ’s zero. More than anything though, their numbers illustrate just how close the fight was.

As for the 50-45, judge Doug Crosby’s explanation is actually wackier than the score itself. He essentially trolled the UG for ten pages before giving a vague explanation about Edgar setting the tone and outworking Penn for all five rounds. Credit goes to BE’s Anton Tabuena for wading through the entire thread and pulling Crosby’s comments into somewhat-readable form.

So….Just returned from Abu Dhabi, and I haven’t been in my duplex more than 20 minutes, when the Doorman calls me on the intercom in a state of panic…. Seems there are hundreds of moaning, howling ghouls in “RVCA” and “Prodigy/Hilo Boy” T-shirts surrounding the building like extras from “Zombieland”… And they’re chanting “50/45!” over and over, and trying to push their way into the lobby….. Thank God the Father and Sonny Jesus none of them have the elevator key to my penthouse…..So I think I’m safe for awhile… Which gives me a little time to talk to you, my dear friends.

So I’m wondering…..Should I tell you how I scored Penn/Edgar, and why, right now, up front? But that seems kinda like the Pope or the King back in the day, just writing down what he wants to say, and having one of his burly churls nail it to the door of the church for everyone to read…It seems a bit…distant, a bit ‘above it all’, don’tcha think? Because God knows I have plenty to say and no shortage of burly churls; no dearth of hulking familiars to do my bidding have I….

Perhaps just announcing my presence is enough for now. Perhaps simply allowing some of you, my faithful friends and fellow MMA devotees, to say what YOU want to say is more….Democratic; more… Enlightened… A behaviour more consistent with a Progressive such as myself

After all, isn’t that my job? Isn’t it incumbent upon me, as a Judge, to make myself available for your criticism? If I take the plane ride, and get to the venue, and score the fights, I have a kind of….Contract with the fans; a contract that specifically allows you to criticize me. And I will be glad to defend the terms of that agreement, even if it means I have to take the weight sometimes… I knew this was coming as I scored the fight. I knew the inescapable inevitability of criticism was waiting back here. I saw the ride; and I bought a ticket

So allow me to cast up my accounts with you as equitably as possible, won’t you? Interestingly, I’ve been slightly taken aback by the response my score for the Penn/Edgar fight has engendered…but not in the way (some of) you guys have responded….I kind of expected that. What’s been surprising is how many people, at the event, in the hotel, at the airport, fighters, production staff, etc., have told me how glad they were that I scored the FIGHT, and not the FIGHTERS.

Are you guys with me on that, even just a little? Can you understand what I mean by that? May I also mention that I forgive you? For your anger, your insults, and your crassness? NOT all of you….You know who you are. Yes; YOU: Over there, with the purple Nikes on, waiting for the spaceship in the tail of comet to come take you to a world where everyone agrees with you….and YOU over there…the one who thinks his heroes never lose…. So yes, I forgive you. I started this thread knowing that a percentage of you would behave the way you have. I knew you would when I scored the fight as well. I forgave you then. And even as I forgave you, I prepared myself to defend your right to criticize me, and make myself available for that criticism. Isn’t that something I kind of…started out by saying?


All of that being said….. I’ve mentioned numerous times on other threads that the scoring criteria exist for a reason, just like the 10-point “must” system exists for a reason; and that the scoring criteria are guidelines within which Judges arrive at a decision on a round-by-round basis. It is a Judge’s obligation to interpret the fight and use the criteria as guidelines. But a fight is an observed event that does require interpretation, observation, wisdom. And, in my considered opinion, Edgar dictated the tone of the fight, successfully implemented and executed a strategy, landed better strikes, and basically outworked Penn.

And that is an interpretation by a ringside observer with an understanding and appreciation of MMA, who has Judged numerous (hundreds) of fights. I re-watched the fight in my hotel in Abu Dhabi and saw nothing that would influence me to score it any differently. I support and encourage your right to criticize my scoring. And I forgive you for your attacks of both a professional, and, regrettably, personal nature.

Fight Opinion’s Zach Arnold does a nice job explaining why Mr. Crosby’s troll job is more than just a bad joke.

It would be one thing if a random troll on a message board said something goofy or indefensible, but the words carry more weight and meaning when said by someone in a position of power. Mr. Crosby was in a position of power to influence the decision of a title fight. A fight featuring a prize title and big money. A fight featuring an underdog who was, at the minimum, a +550 underdog. Dana White pegged Frankie Edgar as a 7-to-1 underdog. With an underdog that big, the scrutiny on the officiating and the judging is that much greater. The last thing Mr. Ratner needs to deal with are accusations that a judge was “on the take” or that someone “made a lot of money” on the side. With so much on the line for UFC to make a first impression in Abu Dhabi in front of their new business partners, the last thing Mr. Ratner needs to deal with is an employee that he hired for the event to possibly create doubt into the validity of the judging process. Any action by an official or a judge that brings into question the integrity of the rules being enforced at the event is not only an attack on the validity of the fight process but also an attack on the integrity of Mr. Ratner.

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