At least it wasn't a draw.
OK, maybe it was worse than a draw. A lot of people in Louisville, Ky., were sure upset that Diego Sanchez won a bloody mess of a three-round fight, not the least of which his opponent Martin Kampmann, who came up short two rounds to one on judges' scorecards in the main event of UFC on Versus 3.
Were they right? It depends on how you weigh judging criteria that in MMA is comparatively vast compared to its combat sports' siblings and applied as evenly as a spray-on tan. In this case, it depends if you believe that flailing forward isn't effective aggression, and it means something when you turn your opponent's face into hamburger while landing more overall strikes.
Regardless, Sanchez won a unanimous decision in a comeback of Balboan proportions, and got a shower of boos while his face leaked. Kampmann, who opened up his opponent in the first round with one-twos and sprung a few of his own leaks later on as he brawled against his better judgement, stood in shock at the judges' call and nursed a hand he broke in the mayhem. Applause was little consolation.
As with last weekend's majority draw between BJ Penn and Jon Fitch at UFC 127, the debate over Thursday's main event won't center around the first and third rounds, but the one in between. Kampmann picked Sanchez apart in the first, and Sanchez evened the score in the third with several power punches and a takedown. In the second, he turned the heat up with his fists when he abandoned the thought of grinding Kampmann out, and whether he was successful in doing so -- or just looked that way -- is the stuff of many a message board posting.
If you haven't guessed already, I'm siding with the South on this one, though I've seen quite a few decisions that seem to hinge on Octagon control and can't say I'm surprised. Quinton Jackson's split decision over Lyoto Machida at UFC 123 comes immediately to mind, though one sane judge gave it to Machida, I imagine, for effective striking over Jackson's forward motion. "Rampage" agreed with that call.
Who's stock has risen after the epic brawl between Sanchez and Kampmann? I would sincerely hope it would be both, though Kampmann has now suffered back-to-back losses and is further away from a title shot than ever before.
There is a logjam of welterweights currently at the top of the division who have previously beaten him, which will keep Sanchez far away from a title shot. But I see a good grudge/revenge match in store if Kampmann teammate Mike Pyle can get past Ricardo Almeida at UFC 128. There's also a utility headliner possibility with Matt Hughes. So Sanchez will be busy. Now he just needs to add more quality bulk to deal with the guys who cut from 195 pounds.