Category Archives: Matt Hamill

Bashing Bisping, and Other Judging Woes

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t think Michael Bisping deserved a split decision victory over Matt Hamill at UFC 75. Hamill looked strong from start to finish, winning every round in my book, and he surprised a lot of people in doing so. But the bigger surprise came when the judges’ scores were announced and Bisping was somehow awarded two of the three rounds by two of the three judges (one of whom was Cecil Peoples, but what’s the other guy’s excuse?).

But a recent Yahoo! Sports article by Kevin Iole made a big deal over Bisping’s perceived lack of class after the match. In the post-fight press conference he was asked by a man who Dana White later claimed to be a Hamill cornerman whether he felt he truly won the fight. When Bisping responded that he did, the faux-journalist asked, “Seriously?”

Anyone who’s ever been in a post-fight press conference can tell you there’s only one reason a reporter (or cornerman) would ask that question. He was trying to get a rise out of Bisping, trying to prod him into action under the guise of asking a real question. Unfortunately, he got what he wanted.

According to Iole, Bisping responded by saying, “”What do you mean, seriously? Do you want to go three rounds? … Of course I won the decision. Get the (expletive) out of here. Get that smile off your face.”

Then, reports Iole, Bisping made an obscene gesture.

So this is where everyone piles on Bisping, criticizing him for his lack of grace when just a few hours earlier he was the media darling. I understand the sentiment, but Bisping deserves a break.

What people are upset about to begin with is the bad decision. I agree it was the wrong call, but it’s not Bisping’s fault. He fought his heart out. Unless he got absolutely pummeled a fighter will almost always feel that he won. It’s like when a bad call works in favor of your favorite sports team. You immediately want to believe it was the right call, even if some part of you knows it wasn’t.

Now just imagine how that feeling would be amplified if you were on the team, the only one on the team, and if your paycheck was riding on the call.

It’s reasonable for Bisping to have blinders on here, and it’s also reasonable for him to react angrily to someone hiding among the press corps and trying to tear him down in front of international media.

But the bigger problem that people are struggling with is the judging, especially since the UFC had to select their own judges due to the lack of MMA regulation in the U.K. From my experiences with the IFL, I know how quick people are to blame the organization for a bad call, even though it’s completely absurd.

Whatever I may think of Dana White, I do not believe he would instruct the judges to give a fight to a particular fighter. He may be crude and brash, but he respects fair competition and, as an astute businessman, would realize he has far more to lose than gain by putting the UFC’s credibility on the line like that.

The IFL stills gets emails from people who are upset about the decision in the Ben Rothwell-Roy Nelson fight. They claim we’re trying to prop Rothwell up, that the fight was a farce, that Jimmy Hoffa’s body was hidden under the ring. You name it. Nelson even appealed the decision, and for some reason he genuinely thought it might get overturned, despite the fact that this almost never happens.

The Rothwell-Nelson fight was closer than Bisping-Hamill. And I’ve talked to both Rothwell and Nelson several times since that fight and both are absolutely convinced that they won, so much so that they can’t even comprehend how anyone could disagree with them. They’re fighters, and that mindset comes with the territory.

But one thing all fighters know is that as soon as you allow a fight to go to a decision, you’ve already placed yourself at risk. The only way to be certain of the outcome is to finish the fight. Judges have done some crazy things, and they will continue to do more crazy things in the future. It doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy at work. It just means that judges are people, and sometimes people make mistakes (especially those who have the word ‘people’ embedded in their last name, for instance).

It’s understandable to be upset about a bad decision, but there’s no reason to jump all over Bisping or the UFC for it, just like there’s no reason to keep sending crazy emails to the IFL about fights that happened six months ago.

The best way to deal with it is to do what the IFL’s John Gunderson did, when he was absolutely robbed of a win over Bart Palaszewski on the same card as Rothwell-Nelson. In the post-fight press conference, as well as in the post-press conference bar conference that has become my favorite ritual while on the road with the IFL, he allowed that, yes, he believed he should have won, but it was his own fault for not making that more evident. That’s class.

As for Palaszewski, he admitted that it wasn’t his best performance and that he was surprised to have gotten the decision. He did not make any obscene gestures or swear at anyone, but then again nobody in the press conference was enough of a jerk to try and get him to.

Class is something we have a right to expect from everyone, after all, not just the fighters.

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Filed under Bart Palaszewski, Ben Rothwell, Cecil Peoples, Dana White, IFL, John Gunderson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Roy Nelson, UFC 75

Is “Rampage” For Real? Plus, Other Post-UFC Thoughts and Regrets

Halfway through last night’s title fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan (I guess we’re calling him “Dangerous” now?) Henderson, I couldn’t help but wonder i f maybe both these guys had something important to do after the bout. It was as if neither wanted to take a chance on expending too much energy by really trying for the finish, despite the fact that this was supposed to be the big time title unification bout.

I could understand a somewhat slow pace in the first round. Feeling one another out is normal, and the match was scheduled for five rounds, which is a long time just to keep your hands up in front of your face. But neither of these two really seemed to go for broke at any point.

The closest either came was a couple of heavy flurries from Jackson and a couple of attempted kimura locks from Henderson (though he seemed more interested in using them to reverse position than as a submission). Several times Henderson gained side mount only to wait for Jackson to escape.

In the fifth round I really expected to see at least Henderson – who had to know he was behind on the scorecards, what with Matt Lindland yelling at him between rounds – take a risk and try to make something big happen.

That moment never came, and Jackson got a hard-earned decision. A drop to middleweight is the best course for Hendo now. The size and strength difference is evident.

As for Jackson, he looked like a real fighter for the first time in a long time. No longer relying on pure aggression and power, he showed some technique and some poise. Maybe having a steady training camp and little more maturity with age is paying off.

Next stop: rematch with “Shogun” Rua?

“Cro Cop” Fizzles

I think it’s finally time to put to rest the notion that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is among the world’s most feared strikers. Cheick Kongo easily handled him for three rounds and only seemed to gain confidence with each failed high kick from the Croatian.

(Note to UFC commentator Mike Goldberg: I understand why you went out of your way to say that “Cro Cop” was a one-time member of the Croatian Parliament, and that it’s a governmental body equivalent to the U.S. Senate, but even you had to realize how silly you sounded.)

It’s going to be hard for the UFC to know what to do with “Cro Cop” now. There simply isn’t a good match-up out there for him anymore. They may try to put him against somebody they want to get over with the fans, but it’s debatable whether “Cro Cop” has any heat left at all after this showing.

Bisping Gets Hometown Love

The worst decision of the night came in the light heavyweight bout between TUF winner Michael Bisping and deaf former college wrestling champion Matt Hamill.

(Another note to Goldberg: Did you really say that the Div. III champion Hamill was the most decorated wrestler to enter the Octagon in a long time? Really? Somewhere Josh Koscheck is pissed, and Matt Lindland just shakes his head and shrugs at Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.)

Hamill looked better than ever, particularly in his striking game and stand-up defense. With his natural ability he could end up being a serious contender at 205 lbs. someday, though he’s still unable to do much on the mat after the takedown. Bisping was a game fighter from beginning to end, but he didn’t deserve the split decision victory and had the fight taken place in any other country, he wouldn’t have gotten it.

Now I know how Brazilians feel when they fight in the U.S.

Yet again we see judge Cecil Peoples on the wrong end of a bad decision. Granted, one other judge saw it the same way, but Peoples is a repeat offender. I mean, he must be bad because he’s the only MMA judge I can even name. It’s getting to the point where fighters who’ve just put on a strong performance have to feel a little sick when they hear the phrase, “and judge Cecil Peoples scores the bout…”

Seriously, someone ought to go stand by Peoples and make sure he’s really watching the fights. Maybe give him pop quizzes throughout just to keep his attention, and not just on the fight at hand either. Let’s see if he can judge any dispute between two conflicting parties.

Quick, Cecil, who won World War II?

It’s either that, or let’s get a more competent judge in there. I’m thinking maybe one of those chickens that can play Tic-Tac-Toe. I hear they work cheap.

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Filed under Cecil Peoples, Dan Henderson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Quinton Jackson, UFC 75