UFC 121: 10 Things Learned

Jake Shields UFC 121

Jake Shields Underwhelms

After all kinds of hype and even more anticipation, Jake Shields finally made his UFC debut by eeking out a split decision win over Martin Kampmann.

The former Strikeforce middleweight champion showed his elite-level grappling game, gaining the mount on numerous occasions and working well each time the fight went to the ground. Unfortunately, there were a number of times where Shields didn’t look good at all, eating a couple big knees and showing that his cut back down to the welterweight division was torturous.

In fact, Kampmann might have handed Shields the victory by trying to beat the grappler at his own game. Despite having a massive edge in the striking department and Shields’ obvious exhaustion, Kampmann tried to choke out the UFC newcomer and ended up getting dominated on the ground for the final minute of the bout. He’ll be kicking himself about that decision for quite some time.

If That Is How You Earn a Title Shot…

Somebody needs to keep a watchful eye on Jon Fitch for the next couple months. If (when?) Georges St-Pierre defeats Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 in December, the company will need to announce who will next face the reigning champion and if it’s Jake Shields, Fitch’s head might explode.

There is no possible way that the UFC can award Shields a title shot after that performance; while his awful cut certainly played a part in his mediocre performance, no number of excuses can make that fight worthy of earning a title shot.

This was a lesser version of the beating Fitch put on Thiago Alves earlier this year, and that performance got Fitch bumped down the contending ladder. Rewarding Shields for an uninspired victory would send the wrong message to Fitch and the rest of the organization.

We Need to Fix This… Now!

Once again, I fail to understand how one person can score a fight 30-27 for one competitor while another can award the same bout a score of 29-28 for the alternate fighter. The time for accepting that judges are going to get it wrong from time-to-time has passed, and we need to fix the problem post-haste.

Fighters shouldn’t have to worry that they’re going to get screwed by leaving the results in the hands of the judges; as much as finishing fights takes the worry away, it isn’t that easy, and relying on the people paid to score the bouts correctly should cause heart palpitations. Right now, it does, and that needs to change.

Either start disclosing scorecards following fights, re-examine how these fights are being scored (read: a takedown isn’t valuable if you do nothing with it), and get rid of the group of judges that cause fans to cringe at the mention of their name.

Learning that Cecil Peoples was scoring the main event last night made me exceptionally nervous, and that should never be the case.

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