Last week, Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes with a performance that has been maligned in its aftermath.
Judges Chris Lee and Marcos Rosales saw the fight 48-47 for the champion with acceptable scores to the public. Joe Solis, the third judge awarded it 49-46 for Jones and has faced great scrutiny coupled with two questionable cards earlier in the evening. After turning in a hard-to-defend 30-27 score in favor of Andre Ewell, Solis also scored the Trevin Giles vs. James Krause fight. In that bout, Solis scored the first round for Giles despite Krause’s control from the back and submission threats while giving round three for Krause. The totality of his performance that night has justifiably come under fire with a larger look at the state of judging at the top level and the problems that come within the state of Texas.
In this week’s edition of ‘Five Questions’, Phil Chertok looks at the state of judging, the new experiment of open scoring that the Kansas commission will try out, and tonight’s light heavyweight fight between Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz.
POST Wrestling: After several days, do you see an obvious next move for Jon Jones and what fight would you most like to see involving the light heavyweight champion?
The moves are not obvious and that’s intriguing for the long time champion. I wouldn’t complain about a rematch with #1 contender Dominick Reyes, but I also could be persuaded into other options. Reyes surprised me and plenty of others with a fantastic performance last weekend in a fight that many scored for him. The only reason I’m not clamoring for an immediate rematch is that I think a longer gap between fights will favor Reyes and not Jones. This was Reyes’ first five-round fight and while he clearly slowed down in rounds four and five, he was still able to effectively move, evade and fire back, admittedly with far less effect than earlier in the contest. A little more seasoning in his sauce would do him good while Jones continues his record-setting ways with new 205-pound contenders. Now, if no clear new challenger emerges, I’m perfectly OK with seeing Reyes and Jones square off sooner rather than later.
POST Wrestling: Does the winner of this Saturday’s fight between Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz have a realistic shot of fighting Jones next?
Phil Chertok: I do think that Corey Anderson has a chance to get a crack at Jones before anyone else if he’s able to put together another sensational performance like his last endeavor when he derailed the hype-train of Johnny Walker. This will be Anderson’s second main event in the UFC, and he needs it to go a lot better than the last time he was at the top of a card, a KO loss to Jimi Manuwa three years ago. Anderson has finally started to make some noise in what has been a career largely flown under the radar but he’s going to need to do something dramatic to really get the attention of the UFC and Jones who can probably make more money with another opponent.
POST: In terms of the criticism over the judging this past weekend, do you view it as a widespread issue or one being magnified this week after several bad scorecards at UFC 247?
Phil Chertok: This is a widespread issue and one that’s being magnified (once again *sigh*) by last weekend’s card. There’s clearly a serious gap when the UFC goes into certain markets and the judging and officiating is determined by inexperienced and inept commissions. There really needs to be stronger consideration into who is qualified for these events, when compared to other major sports it’s tragic seeing the lack of experience and knowledge of the people determining victory or defeat for participating athletes. It’s hard to get too enraged at last weekend’s events though because they seem all too familiar. While true that we’ve been here before and it seems change seems hopeless, perhaps it’s times like these that help slowly chip away at the problem and shape a system that’s better and fairer. I’ll now remove my rose-colored glasses.
POST: After Rafael Lovato Jr. vacated the Bellator middleweight title it was announced that welterweight champion Douglas Lima will fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant title. Do you like Lima coming up in weight and is it a wise strategy for Bellator to run a big card head-to-head with a UFC pay-per-view on May 9th?
I don’t really like it, MMA math isn’t quite as hardened as linear algebra but when we saw how welterweight Rory MacDonald did in his two fights against Douglas Lima and how he did vs middleweight Gegard Mousasi one can’t help but put two and two together. I can’t blame Bellator for putting on this fight though, they are limited with notable contenders in both divisions so it’s understandable that they want to try to create the most out of this unfortunate event. What I don’t really understand is why they would once again put this on against the UFC (UFC 250 on pay-per-view that night). Bellator has been struggling in the ratings as of late and unless they are just trying to capitalize off people already tuning into the UFC (which they have done in the past) it seems like a waste of talent. If you’re going to put on a fight with a champion moving up in weight class, you should make sure that’s for as many eyeballs as possible. It tells you something about the state of Bellator on U.S television if they feel the best way to do that is by piggybacking off a UFC pay-per-view.
POST: Invicta FC is going to experiment with open scoring for their next card on March 6th – are you in favor of opening scoring and do you expect it to have a significant impact on fights?
I am in favor of trying new things to improve the state of MMA scoring and judging but I doubt that open scoring will have too dramatic an impact as I feel the most serious issue is a lack of experience in the judging and officiating roles. While there are certainly issues with the way that scores are distributed, it’s hardly what creates the controversies we’ve seen in the past. Nonetheless, I like trying things, even if open scoring turns out to be negative, it will shed light on what works with our existing methods and will hopefully expose new dimensions to explore in the hopes of discovering an equitable system.
Phil Chertok can be heard every month on our UFC POST Shows.