MMA is no stranger to controversial judging and WEC is no stranger to great fights. Both were a part of Sunday’s WEC 49. While there were far more great fights on the show, including what may have been the fight of the year in Mark Hominick v. Yves Jabouin, the show will likely be remembered for yet another example of the impact that the judges have on the sport and the vitriol with which a seemingly (or obviously) incorrect decision is met.
In the case of WEC 49, a match pitting former Lightweight champion Jamie Varner and Kamal Shalorus against one another in order to determine the division’s top contender was marred first by Shalorus penchant for insider low kicks, three of which struck Varner in his nether regions. Shalorus’ uncanny impression of Bobby Green’s hoodfighting style resulted in a point being deducted from his second-round score.
The oft questioned judgement of Cecil Peoples yielded a score of 28-28. It must have been an admission by Peoples that Shalorus leg kicks did, in fact, count towards his score; a notion Peoples argued against as recently as last October when he scored the first fight between current UFC Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and then champ Lyoto Machida in favor of Machida despite Rua’s consistently effective use of leg kicks. Meanwhile, lesser known judge Cameron Quwek awarded the fight to Shalorus, 29-27, a score which indicates that Quwek felt Shalorus won each round but was forced to score the second round as a draw due to Shalorus’ point deduction. Apparently both Quwek and Peoples felt that Octagon control, a criteria which could fairly be scored in favor of Shalorus, carried more weight in this fight than did the damage done, a category which Varner won handily.
A bad decision, or at least one that is loudly and/or largely contested, is one thing. For it to happen in a match with title implications, highlights the need for an overhaul to the entire system of adjudication in Mixed Martial Arts, which should include the dismissal of several judges consistently assigned to judge fights for the biggest promotions in the sport. But, while that argument continues to fall on deaf ears, the WEC must now determine how to move forward with determining the top contender to Ben Henderson’s Lightweight title. By virtue of their draw, both Varner and Shalorus appear to be out of the discussion for the immediate future. As a result, other options are desperately needed. That’s where the options for the winners (and draw-ers) from WEC 49 come in.