No, judges didn’t cost Angela Hill money in UFC’s latest loss to Amanda Lemos
There are some controversies that come up a lot in MMA. And judgment is often the foremost of them. Specifically, poor judgment (or at least the perception that judging in MMA is generally bad). So it was no surprise to see an outcry online over the Amanda Lemos v Angela Hill fight, which Lemos won by split decision.
The scorecards read 28-29, 30-27 and 29-28. All three judges scored the first round 10-9 in favor of Lemos. Two judges scored the second round 10-9 for Hill and two judges scored the third round 10-9 for Lemos. The scoreboard that was immediately singled out for being the most misguided was the one that read 30-27 in favor of the Brazilian.
The second round of the fight seemed most clear in favor of a 10-9 in favor of Hill – the MMA Alliance fighter overtaking her opponent 21-11 in important strikes, via the official UFC stats tracker . The first round was equally wide in Lemos’ favor, in numbers (and included an early knockdown for her as well). And round 3, at least statistically) was almost dead even.
Not that judges have access to these figures. But given they’re reasonably similar to what many viewers saw overnight, it looks like a judge not giving Hill the second round was the biggest mistake on the cards. Yet even if that judge had scored that second round for Hill, she would still have lost the fight. A 30-27 card in favor of Lemos would simply have turned into a 29-28 for Marajo Bros. talent. Still, that hasn’t stopped some from claiming that Hill had “stolen” himself from a victory.
We all know that’s exactly what’s going to happen in close quarters combat. I think one of the reasons the screams were so loud in this case was twofold. First, Hill is quite popular with a segment of the hardcore MMA fan base. Second, she’s had four split decisions against her in the UFC. In this case, even Dana White went so far as to say that he believed Hill deserved the win.
“The fight is 29-28 all day, no matter which way you went,” White told reporters after the fight, adding that the 30-27 card was “crazy” in his opinion. “I had Hill. I thought Hill won the fight.
Whatever the reason for the louder-than-normal reaction here, the craziest take has come from an app that allows fans to score fights in real time. Shortly after the fight, they blamed the judges squarely for costing Hill the apparent sum of $ 73,000.
Before I get to anything else, I would like to know where this figure of $ 73,000 came from. Hill has not had a disclosed salary since May 2020. She has fought four times and has gone from 1 to 3 since then. None of the sports commissions under which she fought in these events discloses a salary. If they have spoken to her or her manager, or other sources in her camp, this should be cited. If not, at the very least, there must be an asterisk indicating that this is just a guess based on other data.
Second, and more importantly, the tweet seems intended to trick readers into believing that – if Hill had won and got the “winning” portion of his contract – everything would have been copacetic for everyone involved. What about Amanda Lemos? Doesn’t she take this equation into account?
That’s a purely short-sighted thought, and in the process, it misses the real issue at hand: The UFC’s pay structure, which only gives the winner a full salary, is outdated.
The judges didn’t cost Hill any money at UFC Vegas 45. The fact that half of his purse is tied to the outcome of an extremely subjective system is where the problem lies. The effort the two women put into this fight shouldn’t result in either of them with a half-check. This is the question that needs to be addressed in mixed martial arts, especially in relation to the judgment in the hierarchy of what is broken in the sport.
I know the judges want to do their job well and improve. I attended hours of meetings designed to improve judgment in MMA with the California State Athletic Commission. I listened to the judges explain why they scored a set in a certain way. I know that these people care about their jobs, which for the most part are thankless.
Is that all to say that judging cannot improve? That it is a perfect system? No. There is definitely room for growth. And that certainly does not mean that judging cannot, or should not, be questioned. It absolutely should be. But to say that judging is the problem when a decision costs a fighter a salary? It is grasping exactly the wrong solution to a much bigger problem.