Like the majority of people who watched the fight, I scored it 48-47 for Johny Hendricks. I gave Hendricks rounds 1, 2, and 4, and St-Pierre rounds 3 and 5. There are a lot of people I respect who scored it for St-Pierre 48-47 and gave him round one instead. That round seems to be the most contentious round as it was the only round the judges dissented on.
I’m very aware of the idea that the underdog (Hendricks in this case) can be overrated when he surprises viewers or exceeds expectations. I believe this happened when Alexander Gustafsson challenged Jon Jones. Gustafsson’s performance was so surprising that it led people to believe he was easily winning the fight. I don’t think that’s what happened here. I truly believe Hendricks out-performed St-Pierre in three out of the five rounds.
According to Fight Metric (which is not the be-all or end-all of fight scoring) Hendricks was the better performer in the first round. St-Pierre landed one more significant strike in the round but Hendricks’ strikes were generally more effective in terms of potentially causing a fight finish. Fight Metric scored it 48-47 Hendricks overall, the same way I and most people saw the fight.
What I will say is this: 48-47 St-Pierre is a defensible score. The argument can be made that St-Pierre won the first round. It’s an argument I would disagree with but judging is a subjective exercise. The whole idea behind judging is that we’re getting three people to watch a fight, filter what they see through the criteria outlined in the Unified Rules of Combat, and make their own decision about who the better performer was.
Often the score of a round is indefensible by any objective criteria. There have been plenty of times that the clearly better fighter had a round scored against him. I don’t believe that was the case in this fight. Again, I can see an argument in St-Pierre’s favor, although I wouldn’t agree with it.
I’ll spare you the rant about the ten-point must system. I’ve conveyed my dissatisfaction with that scoring system many times; there’s no need to do it again now. Suffice it to say that I’m not a fan. This fight could go down as an all-time example of where you could maybe see St-Pierre winning three rounds but if you step back and take a look at the fight as a whole, it seemed pretty clear that Hendricks was the better man.
If this fight was just a preliminary bout instead of a world championship fight I don’t think there would be much of an uproar about it. It’s the magnitude of the event that has led to the gnashing of teeth in the MMA community. Many people (myself included) believe Johny Hendricks should be the UFC welterweight champion right now. Instead he’s now 15-2 while St-Pierre remains champion and mumbling about assorted personal issues that may cause him to step away from the sport.
I would like to see a rematch… if St-Pierre is up for it. The things St-Pierre was saying after the fight and at the press conference should be taken very seriously. This is a fighter who used to get hit so rarely… who has suddenly been getting hit a lot in recent fights.
If St-Pierre vacates the title it would be an unsatisfying way for him to go out… but plenty of unsatisfying things happen in MMA. Wanderlei Silva was supposed to fight Chuck Liddell when they were both champions. Instead, the fight happened after both fighters lost their titles. St-Pierre taking on Anderson Silva has been talked about for what seems like an eternity… but it’s too late for that fight now. Not every saga has a storybook ending. Sometimes things just end abruptly. St-Pierre is suddenly taking a lot of punishment each time he fights and walking away could be a very good decision with regards to his long-term health.
I’m rambling now. The point is that I don’t think this is the worst decision of all time or close to it. It was a close fight that I think was scored the wrong way because of a difference of opinion on one round. There are plenty of reasons to support an upheaval at the Nevada State Athletic Commission but this isn’t at the top of the list.