Vancouver Athletic Commission speaks on Elkins/Omigawa decision

Maggie Hendricks

At UFC 131, judges' decisions caused consternation in the MMA world, from the UFC president on down. The 30-27 cards in Kenny Florian and Mark Munoz's wins were confusing enough, but the decision that was truly confounding was Darren Elkins' win over Michihiro Omigawa.

Dana White responded by paying Omigawa his win bonus and treating the fight like a win for the Japanese fighter.

"We're going to pay [Omigawa] his win money," White said. "I don't care what the judge says, he won the fight. … I say he won. Overruled."

But now the Vancouver Athletic Commission is speaking out about judging in the Elkins-Omigawa bout to point out that Elkins could have reasonably taken the fight. In a statement to SB Nation, the commission's executive director explains: {YSP:MORE}

"In the first round, Elkins backed Omigawa up with punches the entire round. He controlled the center of the cage. He was throwing a lot more shots, and landing more -- and in combination. If there is any controversy as to the outcome of the fight it must be because of the second round. That was a very challenging round to score. An argument can be made in favour of either fighter. Elkins landed more punches. At one point, when Omigawa came forward, he was stopped dead in his tracks by Elkins' combination punches, and at another point he was slightly buckled.  Due to Omigawa's unusual stance and balance, it was difficult to tell exactly whether he was rocked by some of these shots. However, you could see Omigawa's leg bend, and the control shift to Elkins as he landed the combo, stopping Omigawa in his tracks, taking the center of the cage, and going on the attack again. These sequences, as well as the total effective strikes landed, could reasonably warrant awarding the round to Elkins. Elkins didn't land many more than Omigawa, but he did land more. As to the blood - it represents something, but a cut can be caused by a glancing blow and some fighters just cut more readily than others.

By this description of the fight, it appears that forward movement is the most important thing in scoring a round. Punches landed are a side note. How would they score a fighter like Dominick Cruz, who constantly baits his opponents into coming forward with his non-stop movement? Chan Sung Jung, A.K.A. the Korean Zombie, should try to schedule every fight in Vancouver, as he's known to continually come forward during his bouts.

At UFC 131, the judges had monitors, a new procedure that is expected to become the norm for UFC events. In the past, judges had to rely on watching the live action in the cage -- which could be difficult when the fight hits the ground -- or look at the video boards hanging in the arena. The fact that monitors didn't quell judging controversies frustrated White.

"Something has to be done about the judging," White said. "It has to. It's so bad, and not only does it affect people's lives, it ruins everything for people that are watching. You watch it, and you're like, 'What? What — 30-27? What are you watching?'

But monitors are a short term solution, when what is needed is more education, training and experience, but that takes time. Meanwhile, high-stakes fights still will come down to the very human judges, and the mistakes and subjectivity that comes part and parcel with their humanity.

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