10 worst judges' decisions in UFC history

The 2009 fight between Brandon Vera and Randy Couture featured a controversial decision
The 2009 fight between Brandon Vera and Randy Couture featured a controversial decision
Scott Newman

“Never leave it in the hands of the judges” is the line used by UFC president Dana White, and it’s been immortalized by being printed above the locker room doors in the gym used to tape The Ultimate Fighter. But unfortunately, at the top level, it isn’t always that easy to ensure a finish in a mixed martial arts bout.

UFC fighters should be able to leave a fight in the hands of the judges and trust them to reach the correct decision, but that simply hasn’t been the case over the 25-year history of the promotion. Bad decisions have been made during both the current 10-point must system era and the era before – which saw the judges simply decide a winner based on the fight as a whole.

Sometimes it’s all too easy for fans of a certain fighter to cry “bad decision” after a loss, but in the following 10 cases, the wrong man certainly had his hand raised. Here are the 10 worst robberies in UFC history.

#10 Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall, UFC on FX 2 – March 2nd, 2012

The judges robbed Ian McCall of a win over Demetrious Johnson
The judges robbed Ian McCall of a win over Demetrious Johnson

The UFC introduced the Flyweight division in 2012 with a pair of fights to decide who would compete for the inaugural UFC title later in the year, and one of them ended pretty decisively – Joseph Benavidez knocked out Yasuhiro Urushitani. The other – between future champion Demetrious Johnson and then-top-ranked 125 pounder Ian McCall - unfortunately proved to be one of the most controversial decisions of all time.

The first and second rounds were basically too tight to call, with both men scoring with impressive takedowns and landing fairly evenly in the striking department. The general consensus seemed to be Round One for McCall, Round Two for Johnson. The third round, however, was simple – McCall absolutely dominated Johnson, eventually finding himself in the back mount position, where he rained down hard shots that could’ve seen the fight stopped.

The round probably should’ve constituted a 10-8 for McCall, giving him a 29-27 win or a 29-28 win if it was a 10-9. However, two of the judges somehow scored the fight 29-28 for Johnson, giving him an apparent split decision victory.

If that wasn’t bad enough, when the scorecards were later checked it turned out someone’s math had been bad, as while one judge had indeed gone 29-28 for Johnson, the other two had gone 29-29 and 28-28 respectively, meaning it was a majority draw. And by the rules of the Flyweight tournament, the fight should’ve gone to an overtime round – which McCall would’ve had a huge advantage in.

Instead, the UFC were forced to re-do the fight three months later, and Johnson made the better adjustments and picked up a clear-cut win. McCall’s UFC career was never the same afterwards, and the whole thing left a sour taste – imagine how different the Flyweight division could’ve been had the judges made the right call?

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Edited by Kishan Prasad
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