Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator, comedian, and Part-time MMA practitioner Joe Rogan is not particularly known for being politically correct when it comes to his most passionate MMA analysis as it relates to the UFC.
Rogan launched into an angry tirade against the Nevada State Athletic Commission during The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 finale on Saturday night for what he portrayed as a huge problem with inexperienced and uneducated judges hired by the NSAC.
The outburst from Rogan came after the decision was read for the Nam Phan (16-8) vs. Leonard Garcia (18-6-1) featherweight fight. Judges gave the fight to Garcia by a split decision (29-28, 29-28 and 27-30) despite the TUF 12 Semi-Finalist outlanding Garcia in strikes over the course of the fight by a margin of 116-70 according to FightMetric's stat analysis.
Rogan called the final tally, "Sheer, complete, total incompetence" and told Phan in the post fight interview he had the fight scored 30-27 for Phan. The crowd watching the action at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas seemed even more upset by the decision, but since they weren't miked up like Rogan they resorted to chants of "Bull****" that Spike TV took a few uncomfortable moments to start bleeping out.
Rogan seemed most intent on explaining to the fans that the judging issue is not the UFC's problem. "And we should point out, that this situation is because of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It has nothing to do with the UFC," Rogan said to Spike viewers about the bad call. "People keep saying 'oh the UFC!' We have no say whatsoever. And [NSAC executive director] Keith Kizer has denied that there's an issue."
Rogan called for Kizer to "clean house" and get rid of some of the officials he called "a bunch of incompetent morons who know nothing about the sport."
Though the decision didn't elicit the kind of reaction from Garcia after the fight that Quinton "Rampage" Jackson displayed after his controversial decision win over Lyoto Machida (Jackson sat down on the floor with his head in his hands after raising Machida's hand before the decision was even read). Garcia, to his credit, said he would gladly fight a rematch.
It was easy to see exactly how the judges who gave the fight to Garcia were swayed, though. Despite Phan landing the more accurate and harder shots on his opponent through most of the fight and completely owning the second round, the first and third rounds featured Garcia unloading a completely volume-based striking attack.
Though he looked gassed and spent at times and couldn't seem to connect with much of anything that hurt Phan, Garcia came across as the more active and aggressive participant in those two rounds. Unfortunately, this reality led the officials who favored Garcia to discount the cage generalship displayed by Phan that led the lone dissident judge to give Nam every single round. The fact is Phan paced himself well in the fight, never looked anywhere near as exhausted as Garcia, and connected with a much higher percentage of his punches than Garcia did.
Rogan was right to be angry, and he took a cue from Dana White (without the F-bombs) in telling it exactly as he saw it, without any punches pulled. Nevada's athletic commission frequently uses the same judges for MMA that they employ for boxing. The two sports could not be more different from each other, and even though there is no definitive handbook on how to score an MMA fight correctly, those who know the sport have a better idea about it than those who mostly score boxing.
Aggression is often how many of the best boxers establish dominance of a typical 3-minute round in the ring. MMA scoring is typically more driven by control and who has it throughout the fight. This is why takedowns are often so heavily weighted. Even though judging any fight can be a very opinionated process that not everyone can agree on every time, this decision was one of those bad for the sport moments nobody wants to see repeated. The NSAC should definitely look into why and how this happened, and if Kizer really is in denial about this problem, maybe he should take it up with Joe Rogan.
Much to the UFC's credit, the bout's excitement factor resulted in both Phan and Garcia being awarded a $30,000 "fight of the night" bonus. So, even if Phan couldn't take home the win and the bragging rights, he at least got a sweet paycheck out of his performance.