Adesanya vs. Romero: Worst Title Fight Ever?

Something needs to be said about this past weekend’s UFC middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero: it does not matter who won.

I am saying this because in the midst of the ongoing debate on whether or not this was the worst title fight in UFC history, there was a mini-debate as to who actually won. Some scored it for Romero, others for Adesanya.

I am here to say: it doesn’t matter.

This was a fight with a combined 88 strikes landed between the two of them, and they were fairly evenly distributed. Does it really matter who won?

I personally scored the fight 48-47 in favor of Romero. A majority of fans and a significant number of media members did so, as well; however most media members scored it for Adesanya.  

Source: MMA Decisions

Ultimately the problem with judging such a fight is the ban on 10-10 rounds. It is technically allowed to score a round 10-10; however, if we did not see any of the judges score the first two rounds of this fight 10-10, we will never see it. Ever. For all intents and purposes, 10-10’s are banned. You must give one of the fighters the round.

With such a requirement in mind, I gave the first two to Yoel based on him landing what looked like the biggest strikes of both rounds.

Having said that, do I mind the lone 49-46 scorecard in favor of Adesanya? No. I wouldn’t have even minded a 50-45 scorecard (as much as I felt Yoel was the clear winner of round 5). There are some fights where the ten-point must system just doesn’t make sense, and this was one of them. This felt like a loss for both fighters, which probably means it should have been a draw. Either way, we can all agree that the scoring system could certainly use some revision.

I noticed on twitter that many within the MMA community were of the mind that this was a clear victory for Adesanya:

But was it? I am never one to say that numbers are the be-all, end-all of judging a fight, but when the output and damage is so little, numbers can serve to cut through the bias of giving the fight to the fighter you were looking at more.

Source: UFC Stats

Yes, Adesanya outstruck Romero in three of the five rounds, although one of those was the second round in which Yoel landed the cleanest combination of the entire fight. Yoel also landed more shots to the head, which are always judged as being more valuable than low kicks (rightfully or not; I believe rightfully so), which were the basis of Izzy’s victory.

We are all wasting brain cells discussing this, anyway. I just think that for once, after such an uneventful fight, we can stop making a big drama show about the judge’s scorecards.