The Guard Past: A look back at the night that was UFC 163

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Phil Davis is announced the winner in a fight that many believe should have been in favor of Lyoto Machida. Photo via UFC Facebook.

Lyoto Machida got robbed. Plain and simple.

It’s not every day that a column of mine starts off with frustration about a bad call. After all, this is MMA and bad decisions happen from time to time. But this one at UFC 163 was way too bad.

The culprits in this fiasco were judges Sal D’Amato, Chris Watts and Rick Winter. These people, for whatever reason they felt they needed to, scored a fight for Davis when it was clearly won by Machida.

“I don’t know what they are judging,” Machida said.

I don’t think they know what they’re judging either, Lyoto.

FightMetric.com, the industry standard for measuring fight statistics, published a comprehensive breakdown of the Machida-Davis bout. Sure enough, the breakdown concluded that Machida was the more accurate striker and landed more significant blows than his opposition, and scored the bout 30-27 for Machida. Yes, 30-27.

The factor, we all assume, that the judges were looking at were the two takedowns that Davis secured at the end of the first and second rounds. The former Penn State wrestler successfully got Machida to the ground and kept him there, opening up the opportunity to rain strikes from top position.

From the outside looking in, though, the majority of strikes that Davis successfully landed were in his second takedown, whereafter he landed knees and elbows that scored him the lion’s share of his points.

Official UFC 163 scorecard for Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis. Image courtesy of UFC.

The first takedown was followed by striking attempts — but that’s about it, mostly just attempts. The definition of effective striking was used too loosely by two of three  judges (D’Amato and Winter) when they scored the first and second rounds.

Apart from the lack of effective striking after the takedowns, there’s the success rate of said takedowns. Davis got Machida down to the mat twice, but those two successful shots took him 10 times to accomplish. That’s a 2-for-10 performance for a 20 percent success rate. With that fact I ask you this: In what world is that considered a satisfactory ratio?

Short answer: there isn’t one.

But let’s forget about FightMetric’s statistics for a bit. How about we look at the fight for face value? In the third round, Machida looked fresh and ready to go another two rounds, stuffing every takedown attempt, while Davis looked frustrated and puzzled. Davis went 0 for 4 in takedowns during the last frame.

Shortly after the decision, when Twitter’s site traffic blew up to nuclear proportions, some began to say things, like “Never leave it in the hands of the judges.” That’s a cop out. Fighters shouldn’t have to worry about incompetence. But they do because judges are incredibly lost in a fight world that heavily depends on them having direction.

This isn’t Davis’ fault. He’s unfortunately involved in a controversial decision that pits him the winner of a fight that he fought hard in and trained hard for. Good on him.

The problem here — and this will be a problem until stupidity is erased from existence — is officials failed us. Again.

Jose Aldo got the job done. Who should he fight next? 

At UFC 163, Jose Aldo did what he does best: win.

It was nothing spectacular or mind boggling that would have made you jump out of your bar stool or off your couch, depending on where you were watching the pay-per-view. He just got the job done and capitalized when the time was right.

Before Chan Sung Jung separated his shoulder and Aldo swarmed in on him like a hungry predatory animal, questions about the champ’s cardio were asked during the main event’s broadcast. The questions, however, were unnecessary because Jung, at no point, showed any explosive flurries where Aldo had trouble keeping up.

At 23-1 and on a 16-fight win streak, Aldo is appearing to be more and more unstoppable as time goes on. And it’s not as though he has peaked and is nearing his decline any time soon. Scary thought for featherweights.

The UFC isn’t making an official announcement about Aldo’s next fight yet, but names like Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson and Chad Mendes are being thrown around the internet as the next in line. Swanson, in fact, already started a Twitter campaign to get his shot. Observe:

Photo via Cub Swanson’s Twitter page.

Despite Swanson’s hopes through the social media pool, Lamas is currently the most deserving challenger to the featherweight crown. With all due respect to Swanson, Aldo has already beaten him — an eight-second knockout at WEC 41 in 2009. He also lost to Lamas at the inaugural UFC on Fox event in November 2011, so it’s tough to justify Swanson getting a title shot in front of him.

Lamas, at the very least, will provide a never-before-seen challenge to Aldo. And with four wins in row in the UFC, there’s little room to boast someone else as the new challenger, regardless of Chad Mendes’ status in the official UFC rankings as No. 1 contender.

Having Aldo fight anyone beyond Lamas the next time out would be a waste of time in developing the featherweight division into a pay-per-view powerhouse.

But when he’s paid his dues, Conor McGregor’s laser precision and incredible speed will make for an entertaining night of 145-pound action against Aldo. Imagine the striking exchange in that tilt. Oh boy.

Now we just have to wait for the champ’s broken foot to heal. I guess that’s what happens when you fight a “Zombie.”

See you in 2014, featherweight title fight.

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