("Let’s have a good, clean fight, protect yourself at all times, and don’t leave it in the hands of the judges. Trust me on that one." Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com.)
Yes, the lightweight title fight between BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 was close through all five rounds, and we’re not going to launch into the corny argument that a challenger should have to definitively "beat the champ" to earn a decision victory. But when the judges’ scores came back for that fight, we were a little shocked by the 50-45 tally that Douglas Crosby turned in for Frankie, especially since Penn pretty clearly took the first round, probably deserved rounds two and three, and the only round that was obviously Edgar’s was the fifth.
Responding to the uproar from Penn fans, Crosby created a thread on the UG — humbly titled "The JUDGING GENIUS returns from the Middle East" — to explain his interpretation of the fight. Well, not so much explain as rant incoherently and endlessly, making the forum posters increasingly furious. Crosby’s manifesto, compiled by FightOpinion, is after the jump; please note that these words were produced by an actual professional MMA judge chosen by the UFC. Read on if you dare…
"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…..Which gives me a little time to talk to you, my dear friends. [Ed. note: I'm not your friend, buddy.]
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… [Ed. note: Something tells me that Douglas's high school creative writing teacher hated his guts.]
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 what I’m thinking is…… why deny you guys? You earned the right to say what you think by buying the PPV. Don’t I owe you a little time to say everything you want to say? Isn’t that a better way to continue to build a bridge to the fans? By giving them their say? Isn’t that what I owe you?
Shakespeare wrote [Ed. note: Oh, Jesus Christ.]
“THE TIME APPROACHES, THAT WILL, WITH DUE DECISION, MAKE US KNOW; WHAT WE SHALL SAY WE HAVE, AND WHAT WE OWE….”
And we all HAVE my scores…..But what do we….OWE??? 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? [Ed. note: *steam shoots out of ears*]
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? As fans, I owe you that. Remember me saying that….Pages ago? That you have the right to criticize me? Wasn’t I the person who brought that up? Wasn’t I the person who gave you the opportunity to be heard? By the person you are angry with?
Should I even mention that most of the virulent criticisms aren’t even consistent with each other? Or is that ‘condescending’? Which is to say…..are the things you’ve written in these last 7 pages available for criticism as well? Or does suggesting that constitute a similar heresy to my scoring in Penn/Edgar?
The reason last question is because I have to make bit of a decision…..Like I said pages ago; do I just lay out why I scored Penn/Edgar the way i did, and leave it at that? [Ed. note: Would that really be too much to ask?] Or do I entertain a….dialogue with you (yes, YOU)? Do I go post-by-post and address your issues, both the rational and the ridiculous, for the sake of a democratic dialogue? Do I pick and choose among the posts for the ones (dissenting or otherwise) I feel are worthy of explanation, refutation, argument? Do I respond to ridicule with ridicule? Viciousness with viciousness? Do I pay each and every one of you with your own currency? Or do I just say what I think as far as that fight, and move on?
I posed that question pages ago. What direction would any of you be inclining towards, were you me? I wonder.
I just took a few moments to go back to the beginning of this thread and re-read everything I said, and the responses it engendered. I recommend it to all of you. My intellectual mentor, Dr. Jacques Vallee’, years ago told me “Seek out your enemies, Douglas, and listen to what they have to say. Than go think for awhile.” [Ed. note: "...but before you do, make sure to write ten pages of pretentious drivel on an Internet message board."]
Reading over what’s been said, in both tone and content, has been enlightening. 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.
From commenter Mortality – “50-45 does not mean a fight was lopsided. Every round could have been razor thin but still had the same winner. Some of you don’t seem to understand scoring at all.” I just printed this out and dropped it out my window. The RVCA/HILO BOY Zombies read it and they all just walked into the sea. Thanks! DC/NYC
Some discussion questions for your MMA study groups…
– Do MMA judges owe fans explanations for unpopular decisions? Is it in some way unprofessional to respond directly to them in a public forum?
– Has any part of Crosby’s essay convinced you that 50-45 was the "correct" scoring of the fight?
– If there are "heels" in fighting (Lesnar, Sonnen, et al.), can there be heels in judging as well?
– Specifically, what do you think Crosby was high on when he wrote this: Adderall, cocaine, or red wine?