UFC fighter has every reason to appeal his bitter defeat
There wasn't a whole lot to write about the fight that kicked off the UFC 204 preliminary card.
Leonardo Santos vs. Adriano Martins was certainly the most forgettable fight out of the 11 total bouts on the night in terms of in-Octagon action but it's one that we're still talking about due to an unfortunate judging controversy.
While the first round of the three-round lightweight clash was ongoing, MMA Fighting photographer Esther Lin noticed that the seat next to her, which was assigned to one of the three judges for the bout, remained empty.
Five minutes later, as the second round got underway, judge Jeff Mullen took his seat cageside.
The fight went the distance and, after a full 15 minutes of relatively uneventful action, a decision was tendered that resulted in a split decision victory for Santos.
Mullen and fellow official Paul Sutherland gave the first and second round to Santos while the third judge Maciej Motylewski saw the second and third round in favour of Martins.
Mullen's absence for over a third of the bout led to many questions about its scoring and the UFC, who themselves assign judges to score fight cards that take place in regions without athletic commissions like the United Kingdom, has since addressed the issue.
— UFC (@ufc) October 9, 2016
“At the UFC 204 event on Oct. 8 in Manchester, England, a judge was not in the proper judge’s chair during the first round of the Adriano Martins vs. Leonardo Santos bout,” a UFC statement given to MMA Junkie reads.
“Judge Jeff Mullen was seated in the first row of the commission seating area and was observing the bout. Upon noticing that Judge Mullen was not in his appropriate seat at the end of round 1, Marc Ratner, UFC Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs, asked Mullen if he believed that he could adequately score the round from his vantage point. Judge Mullen confirmed that he had observed the entire round and that he could appropriately score the round. As a result, Mullen filled out his judge’s scorecard for round 1 and took his appropriate judge’s seat to observe and score the remaining two rounds of the bout.
“After the conclusion of the bout, all three of the judges’ scorecards were tallied, and the decision was announced. Although the bout resulted in a split decision for Santos, it is important to note that all three of the judges scored the first round 10-9 in favour of Santos.
— UFC (@ufc) October 8, 2016
“In order to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future, UFC has reviewed its protocol for starting any and all bouts that occur in territories that do not have an applicable athletic commission or federation.”
In light of the judging controversy, Martins' camp has insisted that that they want the result of the bout overturned to a no contest.
“With all due respect to Santos and Nova Uniao, it was such a close fight that anything that judge missed, a single kick or punch, could change the result of the fight,” Martins' manager Alex Davis told MMA Junkie. “There is a protocol in place, and if the judge isn’t where he’s supposed to be at cageside, the fight should be considered a no contest.”
It's likely that the late change to the running order of the event led to confusion among the judges as Santos vs. Martins wasn't originally scheduled to kick off proceedings but Ian Entwistle's withdrawal on the eve of the fights pushed Marc Diakiese vs. Lukasz Sajewski further up the card.
So there you have it. The lack of a 10-8 in the main event wasn't the only bit of judging controversy at UFC 204.
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