MMA Fighting’s Dave Doyle points out how different Saturday’s Johnson / Dodson fight would have ended if the referee had taken a point on any of Johnson’s fouls:
The first was a third-round strike to the groin, after which Dodson, who was coming off his strongest round of the fight in round two, slowed considerably. The more egregious foul occurred in the fourth round, when Johnson delivered a knee to the head of a downed Dodson.
Dodson had his hand on the mat when Johnson wound up and drilled him in the head with a knee. Without a point deduction, Johnson won a unanimous decision, with scores of 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46. Had a point been taken away, the score would have reverted to 47-47, 47-47, and 48-46, a majority draw.
Whether you think the “hand on the mat” rule, which enables a fighter to technically stay “downed” and avoid a knee to the head, is a good one — plenty of people don’t — isn’t the point. That’s a valid debate for another time. But the referee is supposed to call the rules as they’re written, not how we might want them to be.
On the Fuel TV postfight show, UFC president Dana White told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani he felt the point should have been taken away.
“I do think that the point should have been taken away,” said White. “Here’s the thing about that. It was absolutely an illegal knee, but it was an illegal knee that caused damage too. After that, he had a mouse on his eye, he definitely had damage from it. There should have been a point taken away from that.”
Well, then there’s also that small technical detail where Dodson’s hand did lift an inch or two above the mat just as Johnson nailed him with the knee. And some also say that groin shot was glancing at best. But I think we can all agree that the point deduction system is pretty damn broken. Referees are so hesitant to take a point that it rarely ever happens. Who knows if that’s leading fighters to be a bit sloppier with their inside leg kicks and outstretched hands. But nothing good can come of a system where a guy knows he can get away with a significant amount of fouling before having to worry about being punished.