Noche UFC Awards, including dishonors for more poor MMA judging

Typically, we reserve our awards for numbered pay-per-view cards. But with a title fight and the celebration of Mexico being at the center of Noche UFC, let’s highlight some of the memorable moments from the card inside the T-Mobile Arena this weekend.

Also Read: Booking Next Fights for Alexa Grasso and 4 Other Noche UFC Winners  

The Michael Chandler Award for the UFC marketing team

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Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Before we hand out a trophy recognizing a huge blunder, let’s take some time to acknowledge what the UFC got right about Noche UFC. Overall, the event was a success on two levels. Not only was it an entertaining card with well-matched fighters, but it also kept true to the idea of honoring Mexican culture without becoming a parody of itself.

Unlike senators kneeling in Kente cloth as a performative gesture during a mass protest for African-American civil rights, the nods to Mexican Independence Day were dignified and far from hamfisted. There were several little touches that painted a bigger picture. The shift from the traditional “Tale of the Tape” music, references to the country’s fight for independence from Spain and Mario Lopez providing voiceover work added to the theme without distracting from the product.

While Alexa Grasso’s surprise submission win for the belt culminating in her first title defense on this card was perfect, it would have been nice for Brandon Moreno to be included as a defending champion as well as opposed to being dethroned in July. However, bringing the first Mexican-born belt holder on to the broadcast as a guest commentator was a perfect way to capitalize on his engaging personality without him strapping on a pair of gloves. 

However, among the standout promo packages that highlighted the success of fighters with roots in Mexico, including former champions Henry Cejudo and Anthony Pettis, was something that stood out like a sore thumb. 

In the tradition of Michael Chandler’s promotional video during Black History Month in 2021, the UFC decided to sprinkle some tone-deaf seasoning in the mix. Considering his spot in the co-main event and fan favorite status, it’s no surprise that a special video centered around Kevin Holland. However, having Holland eat tacos as some tribute to Mexico is shockingly foolish. A black man with no connection to the country outside of liking a popular dish does nothing to honor Mexican culture. 

A blunder like this is evidence that representation in high places matters.

Boxing Award to the NAC for Poor Officiating at Noche UFC

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Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Questionable scorecards and mistakes from referees are not exclusive to boxing. Nearly every week there’s at least one glaringly bad move that takes place in a high-level mixed martial arts contest. It’s just that on a weekend that typically features Canelo Alvarez (including puzzling scores against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his first bout with Gennady Golovkin) it feels appropriate for the Nevada Athletic Commission to keep the tradition alive in the Octagon.

Chris Tognoni’s handling of Edgar Chairez’s choke attempt on Daniel Lacerda was egregious. While Lacerda was in a dangerous position, he had no obligation to communicate with the referee at that moment as his full attention should’ve been given to getting out of the position. Sure, Chairez could have locked in that standing anaconda with more time and actually put Chairez out. Unfortunately, we’ll never know and those two fighters are back to the drawing board.

The judging was equally atrocious. While Kyle Nelson’s win over Fernando Padilla was justified, the 30-27 score in his favor by Sal D’Amato can’t be. Awarding Nelson the first round after getting walked down and busted up with jabs just doesn’t make sense. 

But the biggest head-scratcher comes courtesy of Mike Bell in the main event between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko. In such a close fight, scorecards were all over the place, and understandably so. Nearly all of the combinations that can be seen on MMADecisions are completely logical, except one of the ones that matter. 

Mike Bell’s 47-47, which turned the bout into a split draw, is simply inexcusable. Giving Grasso the final round isn’t a surprise. The champion took her opponent’s back and dished out a great deal of offense in the final 90 seconds. But that onslaught was not worth a 10-8 considering that Grasso spent the majority of the round getting battered from boxing range until an ill-advised headlock attempt put “Bullet” on the floor within the final minute and a half.

10-8’s, and 10-10’s for that matter, are underutilized. However, that doesn’t mean they should be thrown out haphazardly.

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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