Judging has plagued the last two weeks of The Ultimate Fighter 16: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson, and it got worse in episode 7.
Team Nelson seized matchmaking control with Colton Smith’s win over Eddy Ellis last week and Coach Roy Nelson decided to continue his unorthodox method of choosing fights. He elected to have his team pick a number between 1 and 20 to determine which of his fighters would compete next.
The secret number was 17 and Dom Waters was closest without going over with his pick of 16. Waters couldn’t decide who he wanted to fight, so instead of competing this week, Waters decided to pass the opportunity along to teammate Michael Hill.
During the official fight announcement, Coach Nelson revealed Hill’s opponent. Hill chose to face Team Carwin’s Matt Secor. The two had a heated exchange of words in episode 6 and Hill wanted to settle their differences inside the cage.
“I called out Secor because he’s been starting a lot of trash talking. Secor called me a girl. He called me a thief,” said Hill.
“I like this fight,” said Secor. “This is obviously the fight I’ve been preparing for. I think I have a very good chance of implementing my game plan and seeing it through and getting the victory.”
Team Nelson brought in former UFC light heavyweight titleholder and The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Forrest Griffin to work drills with the team.
Hill’s game plan was simple. He planned to knock Secor out. Secor planned to draw on his jiu-jitsu and ability to get the fight to the ground to secure victory.
Michael Hill vs. Matt Secor:
The opening round was lackluster. Neither fighter did much for the first two minutes other than dance around. Secor threw a kick to the body and Hill caught it and quickly took the fight to the ground. Hill was unable to inflict much damage from top position and referee Josh Rosenthal opted to stand them up in the closing seconds of the round. Hill won the round with the takedown and top control.
The second round would play out quite differently. Secor shot in for an early takedown but Hill stuffed it. Hill decided to stand and Secor worked hard to secure a takedown. Secor took Hill’s back, applied a body triangle and controlled Hill for the duration of the round. The round clearly went to Secor.
Considering how the last two episodes’ decisions went, we had to wait for the judge’s totals to know for sure, but it looked like it was heading to a sudden-victory round. After the judges’ scorecards were totaled, there would be a third round.
The pace picked up in the final stanza. Hill moved in with big punches. He missed with a spinning back fist and Secor changed levels, looking for a takedown. In a scramble, Hill ended up in top position. Forty seconds later Hill would stand and Secor delivered a kick from the canvas that landed on Hill’s jaw. It was hard to tell how much power was behind impact, but it was visuallly impressive and gave Secor the opportunity to get back to his feet.
With just over three minutes remaining in the fight, Secor dropped down and secured a double leg takedown. Hill peppered Secor with short shots from the bottom while Secor advanced to the mount position. Hill rolled, giving up his back. Secor applied a body triangle and worked to lock on a rear naked choke. Hill defended the choke but couldn’t get free from Secor having him in back mount.
It appeared that Secor had done more than enough to win, but the judges didn’t see it that way. To the dismay of Secor, UFC President Dana White and most everyone watching, the judges scored Hill the winner by split decision.
The decision didn’t sit well with White and neither did Secor and Hill’s performance.
“That first round would probably have to go down as one of the (expletive) worst rounds in TUF history,” said White. “One punch was thrown by each guy and then a bunch of lying around.”
“At the end of the first round, I gave Matt that round, but if somebody said to me, ‘no, no, no, Mike won the round,’ I wouldn’t argue it,” continued the UFC president. “The second round, if you don’t give that round to Matt, I don’t know what the hell you’re doing. There’s no doubt who won that round.
“Nobody is fighting with a sense of urgency. Nobody is fighting like they want to (expletive) win. Are you on summer vacation right now, or did you come here to win this (expletive) show, become the Ultimate Fighter, make it into the UFC and become a (expletive) world champion someday,” questioned White.
The judging has stood out this season for all the wrong reasons. In episode 7, one of the worst decisions of the year was rendered.
“The judges handed me the piece of paper and I was like, you have to be (expletive) kidding me. If that doesn’t keep somebody from judging ever again, nothing should. I had a hard time walking up there and reading the scores. Even the blue team (Team Nelson) is pissed about the outcome of this fight. The Nevada State Athletic Commission should be embarrassed,” said White.
“Deep down I do feel I did enough to win the fight,” said Hill following the controversial decision win. “My next fight I’m going to have to perform better.”
Secor felt that he clearly won the fight, but took the loss in stride.
“Hey, he won the fight. The judges say he won. I won. Anyone that watches that fight is going to say I won,” said Secor. “I’m not taking anything from Michael Hill. He won. He deserves it. I lost for a reason. God only knows why but I’m just going to come back and work even harder.”