And as close as the fight was, I find it curious that most (from what I've heard) fighters, fans and media scored it in favor of Rua. Yet, all three judges scored it for Machida. I wonder how much of pro-Rua voters would have changed their minds had it not been for
Goldberg is catching flack for bringing up the "you have to beat the champ" adage. I know, MMA is a sport, and as a sport, a victory within the specified rules agreed upon between the competitors should be valid with no exceptions. But, you can refer to this fight or one hypothetically, would it sit well with you if a challenger was to be awarded the belt in a razor-thin decision for a fight you felt could have gone either way or one you scored as a draw?
And though it's been covered inside and out, Machida's win, I believe, is a story that will linger. With a little time and distance, my hope is people will come to the conclusion that it was an extremely close fight, one with legit arguments on both sides, and not the "robbery" that so many people labeled it immediately afterwards.
Fighters, like plenty of others, really did have a strong reaction to the decision. The funny thing is I've never found them to be the best arbiters when it comes to handicapping or scoring a fight. But you definitely can't ignore the outcry, and I think you're onto something. I can't imagine competing as hard as they do, then leaving their fate it in the hands of "experts" who, too regularly for my taste, get it wrong. If we're taking adages here, fighters know all too well what can happen when they allow a bout to go the distance. Sometimes, of course, they don't have a choice; evenly matched bouts often lead to a decision. The hope is fighters will get a fair shake from officials when they do.
Hui: When I first watched it, I actually scored it 48-46 for Griffin, which is the same score submitted by two out of three of the judges. With that said, I would have also been fine with a draw.
With Jackson-Griffin, there was more going on in terms of definitive scoring. We saw knock/takedowns, submission attempts and positional advances. And, like Shogun, Griffin utilized leg kicks. But the toll was more apparent on Jackson, who had no answer for Griffin's kicks. Though both fights were close, and I know it's possible to defend either side in both cases, I found it harder to defend the Machida decision.
However, there is one thing that was worse in Griffin-Jackson: the UFC's decision to not grant an immediate rematch. In MMA, we often find ourselves complaining about nonsensical rematches, but this is one instance where it's completely warranted, and I hope the UFC doesn't throw us a curveball here, as it's only fair for the fans and, more importantly, for the fighters to settle it one more time. Machida was the one with his hand raised, but he, arguably, has more to prove the next time the two meet.
The best thing about Overeem right now is he's active. He also seems intent on pursuing the K-1 World Grand Prix, which is fine, even if it does nothing for his MMA stature. He's obviously gifted, both physically and technically. Does that make him a legit threat to
I wouldn't rank Overeem that high, but I won't ask you to defend his spot. Overeem is an intriguing personality, and you probably received the most e-mails about him because of the puzzling nature of him as a MMA fighter. It's hard to say where he belongs on the rankings because the elite opponents he has faced in recent years have been in kickboxing, not MMA.
Even though I don't rank him that high, because he hasn't had a noteworthy MMA win in years, Overeem poses a serious threat to Fedor Emelianenko. Actually, I think Overeem could be a serious threat to anyone in the heavyweight division, which makes it even more frustrating that he's accepting MMA fights that no one cares about. But it's all speculation at this point until he decides to shift his focus back to MMA. So let's see if Overeem lives up to his word of wanting to fight Fedor in April 2010.