Following each UFC event, The MMA Corner will dive into the decision victories on the card and grade the performance of the event’s official judges. In this edition, we take a combined look at UFC Fight Night 43 and UFC Fight Night 44.

No matter how hard fans hope for a world where judges’ decisions don’t frustrate the masses, the simple fact is that controversial decisions come with the territory. Judges, much like referees, can only operate from their own standpoint and call it the way they see it from where they sit. But there come times when they slip up and either miss the obvious, seem to not pay attention or ultimately prove their inexperience by awarding the fight to the wrong individual.

UFC events as of late have delivered at least one controversial result per show, and on the heels of UFC 174, fans expected the worst. So, would the controversy bug strike UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland or UFC Fight Night 44 in San Antonio?

As it turned out, the bug would bite down in San Antonio. Before we dig deep into that card, though, we must state that for all that might have caused a stir in the opening bout in Auckland between Gian Villante and Sean O’Connell, there was no real controversy in that decision. While the case exists for O’Connell beating Villante in what was honestly one heck of a fight, the fact is that Villante simply sought out to prove that “less is more,” and then he implemented that theory to a tee when he landed a higher percentage of strikes despite landing only 93 out of 164 attempted strikes in the entire bout, compared to O’Connell’s 109 out of 228 attempted shots.

Now, on to UFC Fight Night 44. Even before the controversial stoppage in the Johnny Bedford-Cody Gibson tilt, it seemed like we’d be in for one of those nights where just about anything and everything would go wrong. It started with what should’ve turned in a unanimous decision win for Marcelo Guimaraes against Andy Enz. Guimaraes had outstruck Enz in every round, scored two takedowns in the first two rounds against Enz, who never attempted one in the fight, and looked pretty much on his way towards a clear 29-28. Despite Enz getting off to a good start in round one by hurting Guimaraes at every turn, as well as always throwing more strikes than Guimaraes throughout the bout, he never landed more.

With this in mind, the 29-28 scores for Guimaraes, given by Aladin Martinez, who provided his first UFC scorecard during UFC 171, and judge Juan Munoz, who delivered his first UFC scorecard at Saturday’s event, are justifiable. Then there’s Joe Soliz, who also submitted his first UFC scorecard on Saturday. He scored the bout 30-27 for Enz. Yes, folks, a 30-27 went to the man that only took the first round in the eyes of members of the media.

Can anyone explain Enz’s case towards winning the last two rounds? It just seems baffling that he got the shutout from one judge when everyone else seemingly stands in agreement and says that he only got one round. The fact that a judge submitting his first UFC scorecard thought Enz prevailed in all three rounds furthers the common belief that suggests that judges really don’t watch the fights before they score them.

The main card played out somewhat similarly, though the cases for the losing fighters made a little bit more sense. For example, Joe Ellenberger implemented takedowns in the last two rounds of his bout with James Moontasri after getting dropped in the first round, hence Ellenberger’s split decision win over his fellow UFC newcomer. However, Moontasri ended up landing a higher percentage of significant strikes in the first two rounds, thus cementing his case towards the 29-28 score granted to him. Moontasri’s efforts proved so effective, in fact, that many outlets actually gave Moontasri the fight, and the ones that didn’t score it for Moontasri actually had it as a draw.

Clint Hester beat Antonio Braga Neto in a similar fashion, though he did not get knocked down at all. Hester also accumulated a higher percentage of significant strikes, while Neto’s edge came from looking for more takedowns, reversing at every turn, and passing Hester’s guard. Unlike Ellenberger-Moontasri, though, MMA Junkie and Brent Brookhouse of SB Nation scored the bout for Hester, while the rest of the media scored the tilt for Neto.

The last of the “controversial” decisions from San Antonio came in a bout that actually ended in a unanimous decision win for Ricardo Lamas, who came back after a rough first round to take a score of 29-28 and two scores of 30-27 in triumphing over Hacran Dias. Lamas scored his game-changing takedowns in the second and third rounds, and even attempted a submission at one point in the bout, thus causing him to lock up those two rounds.

So where do five media members score the bout at 29-28 for Dias, when judge Martinez scored the bout 29-28 for Lamas and judges Soliz and Gino Garcia both gave Lamas the sweep? Aside from the first round, Dias implemented some of his most solid output of the entire fight in the second round, when he landed 21 strikes out of the 35 he threw at Lamas, who landed 15 of the 39 strikes he threw at Dias. Of those 39 total strikes that Lamas threw, 36 were viewed as significant strikes, and only 12 of those landed. Of the 35 strikes Dias threw, 26 were deemed as significant strikes, and of the 21 that Dias landed in that round, only 12 were significant strikes.

Now, no issue came with the rest of the card, as far as the decisions go, but while the judges may get things right on a given night, the key thing goes beyond being observant. It also benefits them to remain consistent. As UFC 175 and the UFC’s return to Dublin approach us, the MMA world can only hope that these judges can remain consistent with their scoring criteria.

Soliz can get a “C” here because while that score for Enz was ridiculous and unjustifiable, he still got the Ellenberger, Hester and Lamas verdicts right, though Dias certainly deserved credit for the first round at least. Garcia, who submitted his first UFC scorecard as a judge last year at UFC 166, scored the Jeremy Stephens-Cub Swanson headliner, the Kelvin Gastelum-Nicholas Musoke co-headliner, and Cezar Ferreira vs. Andrew Craig in favor of the men who won, and those scores seem quite justifiable, so we can give him an “A” for his efforts.

Martinez, who scored four bouts on the San Antonio card, can also get an “A” for his scores, even if he scored Ellenberger-Moontasri for Moontasri, because most in the media agreed that if the bout was not a draw, Moontasri certainly made a case for himself as far as winning that fight is concerned.

Judges’ Grades

Aladin Martinez: A
Gino Garcia: A
Joe Soliz: C
Juan Munoz: A
Sal D’Amato: B
Jacob Montalvo: A
Kerry Hatley: A
Charlie Keech: B
Terry Hill: A
Anthony Dimitriou: A