Nam Phan Fiasco Shows Reform of 10-Point Must System Needed
In the Season 12 finale of The Ultimate Fighter, Nam Phan got royally screwed out of a victory—there is no other way to put it.
For those that didn't see the fight, Phan fought Leonard Garcia in the opening fight on the television card. The fight went three rounds and it came down to the judges decision.
The fight wasn't particularly close, though you could make a case that Garcia won the first round. In the second and third rounds, Phan was dominant. He landed shots, got Garcia to the ground and was never in danger at any point.
It seemed like a clear-cut decision victory for Phan; everyone watching the fight knew that.
Then Bruce Buffer went to announce the decision. He starts off by saying that "the judges scored the fight a split decision," an injustice but Phan will win anyway so no big deal. He goes on to say "the winner by split decision...Leonard Garcia." WHAT?!?!?!?!
The fans in attendance went ballistic, the announcers went ballistic and undoubtedly people watching went ballistic. I rewound my DVR and immediately watched the fight again to see if I missed something.
It was a clear, dominant performance by Nam Phan. So what happened?
It's clear that the judges scoring the fight were not paying attention or they had no idea how to score a fight. The only round that you could make a legitimate case for Garcia winning was the first round and even that was basically an even round.
There are all kinds of penalties for fighters for some of the most mundane things. Gerald Harris, who won his first three fights in UFC (two of those earning knockout of the night honors), lost his job in UFC because he had a bad fight with Maiquel Falcao at UFC 123.
What do the judges get?
This whole fiasco brings up the bigger issue that is the 10-point must system. In every fight, the person who controls the round gets 10 points and the loser gets 9. It's basically an unwritten rule that it must go that way. Even if a round is so dominating that it should be 10-8, or even 10-7, the judges will score it 10-9.
There are major issues in the scoring system in MMA, particularly in UFC. As announcer Joe Rogan pointed out, UFC does not have control over that; it comes from the state athletic commission. Wherever it comes from, the system really needs to be changed, or at the very least these judges need to lose their jobs.
This is not an indictment of Leonard Garcia; he had no control over the scoring and he seemed as surprised as anyone that he got the decision. To Phan's credit, he did not explode and did not cut a scathing promo on the judges—although it would have been justified.
Maybe they won't look at this fight to change the system because it was "only" the opening fight on a free show. But what happens when this kind of egregious error occurs in a championship fight?
The system is broken and things need to be changed—sooner rather than later.