If you thought incompetent judges screwing fighters out of wins was bad, wait till you read this.

At a Saint-Tropez Promotions’ “Xtreme Vale Tudo” event in Costa Rica this past weekend, former UFC lightweight contender Hermes Franca was said to have dominated Ferrid Kheder in a three-round title fight, but wasn’t awarded the victory. It wasn’t poor judging that cost Franca the win though, it was promotional favoritism. Apparently, the judges actually scored the fight for Franca, but the ring announcer ignored the scorecards and announced Kheder as the winner. As seen in the video above, this clearly confused just about everyone in the cage including the ref who refused to raise Kheder’s hand when the decision was announced.

A poster on the UG named Nick Roehrick who was in attendance recounts the bizarre ending below.

Tonight (December 19th 2010) I attended a Mixed Marshal Arts event while in Cartago Costa Rica promoted by an organization called Xtreme Vale Todo. I was attending this event strictly as a fan and certainly have no “skin” on any particular fighter or outcome, I am completely unbiased.

I am going to skip to the main event, a fight between Franca (Brazil) and Kheder (France). Franca easily won all three rounds of the bout, his striking was superior as was his grappling, and he displayed dominating leg kicks and in fact closed out both the first and third rounds riding on Kheder’s back.

Here’s where it really offended my sensibilities as the manager of a professional athlete, as a fan and as a paying customer. When the winner was to be announced there was a delay, after a few awkward moments the referee begin to raise Franca’s hand then the announcer who is French as is Kheder, called for Kheder’s hand to be raised, the referee refused to raise Kheder’s hand so the announcer raised it. The fans started booing at this obvious sham!

I witnessed the corner man (an American) for Franca pleading to the announcer to check the scorecards again. The French announcer, who only moments before I personally heard speak perfect Queen’s English, now acted as though he understood nothing this poor corner man was saying; I found this utterly despicable and decided to get involved. The promoter had rushed from the arena immediately after the fans started to voice their displeasure with this travesty of sportsmanship and fair play so she was unavailable to comment.

I introduced myself to the corner man and he tells me his name is Dave Jensen. The announcer refuses to acknowledge that he has the score cards when I tell him he’s obligated to show them to Franc’s team. Being familiar with how this process works and not having the emotional involvement of the Dave the corner man I suggest we talk directly to the judges. The two of us approach the three judges and we ask them who they awarded the fight to, all three say Franca. We then ask the referee and he tells us he too had Franca as the winner, he tells us he refused to raise Kheder’s hand because Franca won and in fairness he wouldn’t raise Kheder’s hand (I commend him for that). I even hear Kheder saying to the French announcer (in English no less) to call the fight a “no contest”!

Even if you watch the fight and confabulate that somehow Kheder won, that’s not the issue here; bad calls happen and we move on. The fact is that all three judges and the referee declared Franca the winner and told me so; I’m an independent party with only integrity and fair play as a motive. The actual judging was in fact discarded and the promoter independently decided the victor which in the United States would warrant an investigation and possible sanctions by the governing body towards the promoter. A side note, the promoter is an American and this might explain why she’s not promoting MMA events in the United States.

After talking to all three judges and the referee we went before the cameras to plead Franca’s case, but to no avail. Yet another Frenchmen warned corner man Dave Jensen that if he didn’t stop protesting the decision they would hold Franca’s purse. Follow the money is an adage often spoken, if the Frenchmen were able to withhold the purse would the also be able to decide the outcome? Yes, and alas that’s exactly what they did.

Corner men Dave Jensen fought the good fight on behalf of his fighter, but like Franca, it was a fight he can’t win. My heart goes out to both these young men and their entire team, it is so transparent that the fix was in and their cause was hopeless in this regard. You see Kheder had three ways to win, KO, submission or decision; while Franca only had two, KO or submission, a decision was a forgone conclusion in favor of Kheder.

Surprisingly, Franca seems to be taking the situation in stride.

It’s a shame this happened, but at the same time, it’s better that it happened to me, so that it won’t happen to anybody else. This is not a bad decision by the judges as you all know. Think about if Bruce Buffer announced GSP the winner, and then Dana White said “No. Koscheck won, because I say so” and then handed Josh the belt. Lol. Guys, this is real serious. This is my career in the game. I spent a lot of money training for this fight, going to San Diego for three weeks, and Miami before that. I wonder if any organization in the US would want to see this remach, so that I could beat Ferrid’s ass again. He has my belt, but he has no honor or pride. Thank you for your continued support. Happy Holidays everbody. Osssss.

The good news is Franca may actually get his rematch. Kheder has since confirmed that the promoters decided to turn their decision into a no-contest and will offer Franca a five-round rematch. I call BS and say they need to give Franca the victory if that’s how the judges scored it, but alas, there’s no commission in Costa Rica to enforce such common sense, so I guess a rematch will have to do.

Props to Middle Easy and MMA Weekly for the tip

Update: Check out this garbage. The promoter is actually attempting to use the situation to build a rematch. Hermes Franca is at least smart enough not to go for it. (Emphasis mine)

“Fight will be no contest and both fighters agree verbally to a rematch this time on 5 rounds as it should be as soon as possible,” said Billon in an e-mail. “We feel sorry if fans are disappointed but we (will) fix it and now we have the most expected revenge (fight) for the world title as ever.

The only problem…Franca has never spoken to the promoter and has no intentions of fighting for them again.

“They changed it to a no-contest and I told them that’s not what I wanted because the thing is I want everybody to understand it’s not like a bad decision. It’s not about the referee, it’s not about judges, it’s about the guy who stepped in the cage and said ‘change it, change it, it’s not Hermes, it’s Ferrid (Kheder). Unfortunately, all of the judges they can do nothing,” said Franca.

“Not from him, nobody called me to offer me (the fight). No way I’m going to fight under this organization anymore. Maybe we can fight, but not under this promoter.”

For what it’s worth, the promoter denies they interfered with the decision.

The promoter Jean-Francois Billon claims no such action took place. In an e-mail to MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday, Billon responded by saying, “Ferrid and Hermes are great fighters, I really appreciate both of them and that’s true the announcement was confusing. (A) judge told me Ferrid (won) that’s it, but nobody want a finish with any doubt. It’s a decision…of course XVT don’t want people think we have interest for a fighter.”