Anthony Smith Calls for More Transparency in MMA Judging Following Controversial 10-8 Score at Noche UFC

'Lionheart' believes a simple explanation would go a long way toward quelling the backlash from Mike Bell's inexplicable 10-8 score

Anthony Smith
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith believes that if embattled MMA judge Mike Bell or the Nevada State Athletic Commission would address controversial scorecards, it would go a long way to quell much of the backlash that they face.

Fight fans were left utterly confused following Bell’s inexplicable 10-8 score in favor of Alexa Grasso during the final round flyweight champ’s 25-minute classic with Valentina Shevchenko at Noche UFC. Bell’s decision ultimately resulted in the bout being ruled a split draw, whereas had he scored the round 10-9 for either fighter, Shevchenko would have regained the 125-pound crown. 

Immediately following the announcement, fans and fighters alike were desperate to know how Bell could justify the 10-8 score. Sadly, we may never know as the NSAC does not address scoring concerns and it’s quite rare for a judge to offer up an explanation voluntarily. 

But Anthony Smith believes that if Mike Bell or the NSAC were more transparent with the MMA community, it would likely quiet many of those crying foul. Even if they still disagreed with the decision-making process. 

“I really think it would shut a lot of us up and I think they believe that the opposite will happen,” Smith said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “That it’ll fire everybody up and give us a bunch more ammo and I have a perfect example. On Monday, Michael [Bisping] and I were recording and one of the subjects that came up was the ESPN middleweight rankings. They still have Israel Adesanya number one and Sean Strickland at five. I thought that was crazy.

“So me and Michael were kind of going off on it and how crazy this is and I said, ‘You know what? I’ll just text someone I know from ESPN and they’re on this panel that comes up with this rankings.’ So I asked and I get a response while we’re on air and it’s a long, very thoughtful, and very logical explanation on why those rankings are the way that they are. I still disagreed with it, but I couldn’t argue with the logic.”

Anthony Smith Questions Whether or Not There Is a Thought Process to Judging MMA Fights

Unfortunately, not many of us have a direct line to ESPN personnel for answers, but Anthony Smith’s point remains valid. If the athletic commissions were willing to share insight into the more questionable scorecards, it could go a long way in showing fans that there is a thought process behind it rather than random number punching or potential corruption.  

“I think that would be a very similar situation if the judges in some way… You guys are better at figuring this out, but if it’s one media person or a 10-minute media scrum. A Q&A type format. I don’t know, but however it is, I think if they did have a way to answer some of the questions, I think it would put a lot of us at bay, even if we disagreed with it.

“The problem is, we don’t know if there is a thought process. What process you use to get you to a 10-8 round? There’s so many questions. That’s the problem. But even if I disagreed with your logic, at least we’ll know what you’re looking for or at least know that there is some sort of process going on.”

On Wednesday, the NSAC reportedly held a meeting to discuss the 10-8 scoring criteria following the backlash from Noche UFC. That is certainly a step in the right direction, but until commissions choose to be more transparent with fans and the fighters, situations like the one at Noche UFC are sure to repeat itself. 

Watch the full interview below:

Published on September 20, 2023 at 9:38 pm
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