UFC 297 featured Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier, and Dominick Cruz in the commentary booth, providing wonderful entertainment for the fans. Anik and Cormier are staples on the PPV cards, and Cruz filled in for Joe Rogan, who does not do commentary outside the US due to his busy schedule.
Dricus du Plessis dethroned Sean Strickland to become the new middleweight champion and it was not without controversy. Strickland and du Plessis had a back-and-forth on social media after Strickland blamed a headbutt by du Plessis as the sole factor for his loss.
Anik addresses misconceptions about decisive wins for title contention
UFC play-by-play commentator Jon Anik had an interesting take on the main event fight between Sean Strickland and Dricus du Plessis. Anik was replying to a fan on X who believed that the challenger had to take the belt away from the champion to win.
“No such thing. You can’t score close rounds for the champion simply based upon him/her entering the fight as such,” Jon Anik replied to the fan on X, clarifying how an MMA bout is scored. “But I understand why many, many fans feel dissatisfied when a champion loses his title by way of a razor-thin split decision,” Anik further stated acknowledging the fan’s dissatisfaction.
Jon Anik had earlier tweeted the common factor of Sal D’Amato being the dissenting judge on all of Strickland’s past three fights that ended in a split decision. “His Hermansson card was forgettable. Other two are certainly defensible. But judges are human. He was vilified for that Hermansson card…,” Anik tweeted of the plight of the judges citing D’Amato as an example.
Jon Anik is considered one of the best play-by-play commentators in the game and he is known for openly expressing his thoughts. Many consider him to be a future Hall of Famer. However, this sometimes came at odds with UFC fighters, with UFC welterweight Colby Covington going as far as to threaten to kill the commentator.
Challenge of navigating close rounds and split decisions in UFC
As the UFC stands as the premier MMA promotion in the world, athletes in the UFC are of high standards, and more often than not, they compete in closely contested bouts. In such cases, a fighter must showcase the ability to sway the judges in their favor, and it is at this juncture that split decisions arise.
When split decisions occur, they spark debates in the MMA community, with supporters rallying behind each fighter. There is no transparency in judging criteria, and there are gray areas that are subjective. The task of the judges is to base the fight on effective striking, grappling, aggression, and octagon control, with damage serving as the determinant factor.
Fighters are aware that the finish is the only way to assure themselves of a victory as fights left on to the judges sometimes result in controversy. Nonetheless, the judge must assess the fight to the best of their abilities aligning with the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.
The judging criteria are still oblivious to many fighters and proper education should be provided to fighters and coaching staff. Moreover, judges should be held accountable for their actions, which is not the case as of now.
What do you think of Jon Anik’s statement regarding the UFC 297 middleweight title bout? Leave your thoughts below!