Cincinnati native Hamill is snubbed in London event
By Dann Stupp
Monday, September 10, 2007
Quinton Jackson defeated Dan Henderson to become the sport's undisputed 205-pound champ, and the once-invincible Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic was upset by Frenchman Cheick Kongo.
But the biggest story line coming out of Saturday's UFC 75 event in London, England, is a controversial split-decision win for Michael Bisping over Cincinnati native Matt Hamill.
Consider that Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports (formerly the longtime Las Vegas Journal-Review combat writer), Mike Chiappetta of NBCSports.com, Sam Caplan of CBSSports.com, Damon Martin of MMAWeekly.com, and John Chandler of MMAonTap.com — some of the elite of the MMA media — and yours truly (after re-watching the fight no fewer than five times) all felt that Hamill won the fight and was robbed of the decision.
Saturday's light-heavyweight battle went the full three rounds, and under a 10-point-must system, Bisping won it with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 27-30.
In other words, two judges (both from the U.S.) thought Bisping won the fight two rounds to one, while the third judge (ironically, from the U.K.) thought the American won all three.
So why has the outrage turned to cries of conspiracy?
Hamill looked to have won the first two rounds decidedly, and only the third appeared as though it could go either way. Hamill controlled the pace, scored takedowns, established ring control and, surprisingly, was the better striker.
Additionally, consider that Bisping, a local product fighting in front of a hometown crowd, was the winner of "The Ultimate Fighter 3," the UFC's popular reality series. He's locked into a long-term contract, and like other winners, plenty of money and resources are invested into building up his young career.
Although Hamill is an inspirational story — he was born deaf but went on to a decorated amateur wrestling career — the UFC benefits more with a Bisping victory.
And finally, what the pundits feel is the nail in the coffin: Because England has no athletic commission, the UFC was responsible for regulating the event. UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner was charged with the tasks of drug testing the fighters and choosing officials to judge the fights.
As the former head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Ratner was more than capable of performing the duties, but the conflict of interest isn't going unnoticed.
So was there really a conspiracy? Was Bisping the predetermined winner?
The mockery of a decision was probably a case of poor officiating rather than behind-the-scenes shenanigans.
In a sport still judged primarily by boxing officials, perhaps this latest travesty will encourage UFC and state officials to reconsider the requirements for judging MMA contests.
It won't make things right for Hamill, but it's a start.
Dann Stupp is editor-in-chief of MMAjunkie.com, a content-partner site of Yahoo! Sports. Check out www.mmajunkie.com for a full rundown of UFC 75.