As the scores were read by UFC announcer Bruce Buffer at the conclusion of the 5-round main event on FOX between Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson, one name stood out amongst the rest.
“Judge Gabriel Sabaitis scores the bout 48-47, Thomson”
“Judge Brian Puccillo scores the bout 48-47, Henderson”
“And Judge Sal D’Amato scores the bout 49-46, for the winner by Split Decision……….Benson “Smooth” Henderson!”
The dispute here comes not so much from the actual split decision, but rather the 49-46 score given by Judge Sal D’Amato, who scored rounds 2-5 for Benson Henderson in the fight.
Sal D’Amato, you likely may have heard that name mentioned before, as according to MMADecisions, on record he has judged the most fights that have gone to a decision out of any judge in MMA with currently 216 fights.
You may also have noticed that his name has come up a few times in decisions deem controversial—7 times in 2013 to be exact—he appeared on the most disputed decisions of 2013 list. D’Amato judged a total of 56 fights on 17 different events in the year according to MMADecisions’s record books. Making it just about 12.5% of his fights judged turned out to be controversial.
MMA Decisions has the following criteria for what is to be considered a disputed decision:
- Only decisions in which at least 60% of the tracked media scores disagreed with the actual winner AND decisions in which at least 60% of the submitted fan scorecards disagreed with the actual winner were included.
- A fight must have a minimum of 6 media scores.
- A fight must have a minimum of 10 fan scorecards.
- Draws were excluded.
- Only fights from Bellator, Cage Warriors, World Series of Fighting and the UFC were considered.
A total of 23 fights in 2013 met the criteria for a disputed decision.
Judge Sal D’Amato’s name appears on the list, a total of 7 times.
5 times as the judge that scored the fight for the winner which at least 60% of the media and fans deemed to be the loser.
- Godofredo Pepey def. Milton Viera (UFC on FX 7) — 29-28 Pepey
- Phil Davis def. Lyoto Machida (UFC 163) — 29-28 Davis
- Georges St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks (UFC 167) — 48-47 St. Pierre
- Fabio Maldonado def. Joey Beltran (UFC Fight Night 29) — 29-28 Maldonado
- Patrick Cote def. Bobby Voelker (UFC 158) — 29-28 Cote
2 times as the lone judge who scored the fight opposite of the other two judges.
- Sean Pierson def. Kenny Robertson (UFC 161) — 28-28 Draw
- Raphael Assuncao def. T.J. Dillawshaw (UFC Fight Night 29) — 29-28 Dillashaw
D’Amato also ranks 4th all-time in the category of most dissents being the opposite judge in a split decision, 10 times.
Sal D’Amato judged a total of 6 fights in total on UFC on FOX 10—his 1st event of 2014. He was also the lone judge to score the fight 29-28 for Jeremy Stephens, while the other two judges both scored it 30-27 for Stephens.
As for the fight between Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson, 15 total media members submitted their score on MMA Decisions. Along with 138 fan submissions.
49-46 Henderson: 20% of media, less than 5% of fans
48-47 Thomson: 60% of media, 45% of fans
49-46 Thomson: 20% of media, 26% of fans
This fight would make the disputed decisions list for 2014.