For some reason there are a few in the media who have a problem with the decision victory going to Diego Sanchez after his fight with Martin Kampmann. In particular Bloody Elbow's Mike Fagan claims all Sanchez had to do to sway the judges was move forward in the fight swinging and missing at Kampmann while claiming Kampmann was the only one landing shots.
This isn't the whole story though. Sanchez was already looking bloody and battered at the beginning of Round 3 to the point where it's hard to tell what additional damage could even be done to him. As much as Sanchez was moving forward, Kampmann was moving backward in a retreating fashion more than a defensive one. To be effective on the defense you have to be able to counter and the best way to counter is not to go straight backwards but angle out in order to off step your opponent and leave him open to a shot.
Make no mistake about it, Kampmann was also hurt in this fight, not only as evident by the cuts on his face - less dramatic then Sanchez's own - but the very apparent damage he had done to his right hand. Mike Goldberg who is usually oblivious to little things like this without Joe Rogan pointing a giant flashing neon sign at them noticed it straight away. There's a good possibility the judges did too. How effective could his strikes be when one of his hands is busted up?
Round 3 was also the round when Sanchez landed his only takedown of the fight and briefly flirted with side control. Round 3 definitely went to Sanchez. Round 1 definitely went to Kampmann. It all comes down to how Round 2 was scored.
Fight Metric, which Mike Fagan pointed to as giving the fight to Kampmann, scored the second round for Martin Kampmann, but even their own scoring system shows how close that round was with a Total Effectiveness Score of 151-139. Sanchez landed 18 head power shots to Kampmann's 15, Kampmann landed 10 head jabs to Sanchez's 2. Sanchez attempted 7 takedowns, Kampmann defended all of them.
This is an instance of scoring a round when the primary criteria is too close to call and the secondary criteria comes into play. Let's say Effective Grappling and Effective Striking, the two primary scoring criteria were equal in the second. When that happens the secondary scoring of Aggression and Octagon Control come into play.
As much as I love Fight Metric it doesn't take into account this secondary criteria, possibly because the data is qualitative and not quantitative. It's a perception that can't be measured by machine but is the psychological interpretation of the humans watching it.
Judges only get to see a fight once, that's one of the drawbacks of the job and why a little leeway has to be afforded to them when a fight has close moments. Judges don't get the use of monitors, which is not their fault but the incompetence of commission chiefs - yes, I'm looking at the likes of you Keith Kizer who had judges monitors removed from an event when Spike TV had set them up for them.
This for me is an instance where the judges got it right, and they used the secondary scoring criteria of Agression and Octagon Control correctly when the primary criteria of Effective Striking and Grappling was equal or too close to call. I watched the fight once and scored it 29-28 for Sanchez. I had picked Kampmann to win and going into the fight thought he was just the better fighter in all areas.
This is an instance where judges could do with warranted encouragement and applauded for getting it right at a time in the sport's life when they're at their most heavily scrutinised. They were able to look past the aesthetic that was Diego's crimson mask. They were able to discount the slip and tumble at the end of the second round. They were able to use their judgment on whether Sanchez was still in the fight and what effect each strike were having on him and what he was able to do in return. That's how you score a fight.