Diego Sanchez had earned every decibel of the raucous ovation he received Saturday night while being introduced to his home-town crowd in Albuquerque, NM on the undercard of UFC Fight Night. The winner of the first ever Ultimate Fighter season put his city on the map as an MMA powerhouse as it had been for boxing for decades before, and the future hall of famer was as amped to bring the UFC to his town for the first time as his friends, family and fans were to see him take on Ross Pearson.
Sanchez had earned the right to soak in those cheers before the opening bell but then did nothing to deserve the whacky scores that gave him a controversial decision win over Pearson after the final horn had sounded. Make no mistake about it – Saturday’s lightweight hilt between Sanchez and Pearson was no star-making barn-burner for either man, but it was certainly a fight that the British fighter deserved to win over the home-town hero.
Pearson rocked Sanchez in the first round. Pearson floored Sanchez with a right hand, cut his face up and took him down with a trip in the second.
Pearson clearly got the better of every round yet, two judges scored the fight for Sanchez. One judge even scored all three rounds for “The Nightmare,” meaning that they watched Sanchez get dropped and taken down in the second round, mount no meaningful grappling or striking offense of his own and still somehow felt that the TUF veteran did enough to win the stanza.
Simply put, the judging of the fight was inexcusably bad. What’s worse, because Sanchez was fighting in a historic bout in his home city, the horrendous scores gave the appearance of home-town favoritism.
As of now, it’s unknown what the New Mexico athletic commission, or any other where the judges do work, will do to investigate the decision. Ross Pearson’s camp reportedly intends to file an appeal.
Few things are more damaging to fight sports than the existence or even appearance of corruption. Of course, as of now, there is no actual evidence to suggest that abysmal scoring of Pearson vs. Sanchez is the result of anything but poor judging.
However, incompetence paired with circumstance (in this case, the home-town fighter getting the nod his opponent clearly deserved instead) can still leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths. This one will taste bitter for a while.