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Say what you will about some of the judging at UFC 131 (and I say some of it was pretty dire), but you have to give props to new Vancouver Athletic Commission member Jonathan Tweedale for standing up for his guys.

Tweedale, a lawyer who previously advised ousted Commissioner Mirko Mladenovic, saw some of the slamming going on around the internet after a heinous decision in the opening fight (Darren Elkins vs Michihiro Omigawa) and some odd scorecards for several others, and at risk of going down the rabbit hole, responded to SBNation.com.

For the record, Darren Elkins was picked apart by Omigawa for basically all three rounds. You could maybe make a case that Elkins landed more punches in the second, but the effective shots were all coming from Omigawa and the evidence of that was all over Elkins’ steadily lacerating face.

Determination: Darren Elkins soldiers forward despite taking a pounding from Michihiro Omigawa

Here’s what Tweedale had to say to SBNation.com:

“In the first round, Elkins backed Omigawa up with punches the entire round. He controlled the center of the cage. He was throwing a lot more shots, and landing more — and in combination.”

This is, I’d offer, completely wrong. Omigawa was not only coming forward, he was landing the more solid shots and Elkins’ face quickly started bleeding as a result. Elkins is solid, and he didn’t let the hard shots visibly stumble him, but you could see he was feeling them. Omigawa, by contrast, looked fresh and comfortable by the end of the round.

Round one to Omigawa.

Tweedale continues, “If there is any controversy as to the outcome of the fight it must be because of the second round. That was a very challenging round to score. An argument can be made in favour of either fighter. Elkins landed more punches. At one point, when Omigawa came forward, he was stopped dead in his tracks by Elkins’ combination punches, and at another point he was slightly buckled. Due to Omigawa’s unusual stance and balance, it was difficult to tell exactly whether he was rocked by some of these shots. However, you could see Omigawa’s leg bend, and the control shift to Elkins as he landed the combo, stopping Omigawa in his tracks, taking the center of the cage, and going on the attack again. These sequences, as well as the total effective strikes landed, could reasonably warrant awarding the round to Elkins. Elkins didn’t land many more than Omigawa, but he did land more.”

A rational argument that I’d disagree with, but concede one could reasonably make.

“As to the blood – it represents something, but a cut can be caused by a glancing blow and some fighters just cut more readily than others.”

Also true. But it’s not about the blood, it’s about the cuts. Elkins was shredded in the first, shredded more in the second, and by the end of the third his face was pulp. That’s not a lucky cut, that’s consistent shots hitting their mark, and hard.

“That’s a round about which reasonable people can disagree. Close rounds like Round 2 of Omigawa vs Elkins serve as useful examples for discussion, to assist in refining and evolving the community’s understanding of the scoring criteria, generally. And that is a good thing for the sport.”

And round three? Tweedale doesn’t discuss it. And that’s a tacit admission that the round was Omigawa’s, that he was coming home with a wet sail, and that Elkins was hanging on when all was said and done.

Despite this, one scorecard came in giving the fight 30-27 to Elkins. The other two gave it to him 29-28.

You could justify – maybe – a split decision. You could try, anyway. But there’s no way on earth Elkins won every round. Heck, when his arm was raised and the boos rained down, even he admitted it was wrong, shaking his head and clearly saying “nope.” He went straight to Omigawa and apologized.

Omigawa, for his part, was gobsmacked. He was so distraught by the call that he tried to talk to the ref, commission officials, and anyone else as one by one they left the cage. Ultimately, Omigawa stood his ground and refused to leave the cage until he was escorted backstage by security officials and police.

Tweedale is right to defend his judges. But he’d also be right to admit that local judges need more exposure to the sport AS judges, and that Vancouver City needs to finally get off its ‘too scared to move’ behind and regulate local professional MMA. To this point, Tweedale is taking the ‘it’s complicated’ stance on that one, and Commissioner Dave Rudberg still isn’t talking to media, as best as I can figure.

As long as the UFC is the only professional MMA promoter allowed to function in this city, local judges and refs (who did a great job after some serious training in the last 12 months) will struggle on the big stage, and local fighters and promoters will continue to leave for other locales to play their trade.

It’s interesting to see Tweedale on the commission, being as he wasn’t the most loved person when Mladenovic was lawyering up pre-UFC in 2010 in a bid to force the city to regulate the event. Also on the commission is Mike Pattenaude, who I’ve tussled with in this space previously over his time on the North Vancouver Athletic Commission. Pattenaude’s a decent guy but I’ve had issues with the way events in North Van have played out over the years, so we’ve often not seen eye to eye.

That notwithstanding, what Pattenaude is is a genuine fight guy who wants to see the sport do well. That the commission isn’t filled with yes men is a good sign.

Fight notes: An off-the-record discussion with one of the ringside doctors at UFC 131 Saturday revealed that the medico was, at least a year ago, adamantly against MMA being allowed in Vancouver. The doc, who wouldn’t be named because he was told he shouldn’t be talking to media, revealed that he was totally against the sport being legalized in B.C. but has since converted after seeing the professionalism, dedication, and lack of heavy injuries in the sport, right up close.

If only more opponents of the sport would take such a good look, we might be a little closer to a real MMA circuit in Van City.

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