Jon Jones vs Dominick Reyes lived up to the expectations, as both the fighters battled in a five round war inside the octagon. Many MMA fans have shown displeasure at the judges’ decisions in the past. Something similar took place at UFC 247 in the headliner between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes for the UFC light heavyweight championship. Fans took to social networking sites to show their disapproval of the judges’ scorecards after Jones vs. Reyes. However, it’s not the first time that the judges have been questioned on their skills to score an MMA fight.
While the fight was extremely competitive, the majority of fans and media members believed that Dominick Reyes had done enough to edge “Bones” and become the UFC’s 15th light heavyweight champion, taking the opening three rounds before a late rally from Jones in the final two frames.
However, it was not to be as all three judges scored the fight in favor of the Jackson Wink fighter, who subsequently set a new record for most wins in UFC title fights (14). While this wasn’t a total shock (one-third of media outlets scored the fight for Jones), the 49-46 scorecard of Joe Solis raised eyebrows, with Reyes himself saying, “One of the judges had it 49-46. Who are you? I might want to have a word with you.”
Solis had also turned in two other worrying scorecards during the UFC 247 preliminary card, leading many fans to question how someone with such a poor understanding of the sport ended up in such a vital position.
The first of these decisions came following the bantamweight clash between Andre Ewell and Jonathan Martinez, with Solis electing to score the fight 30-27 Ewell, despite Martinez’s good third-round showing. The second came following the middleweight bout between James Krause and Trevin Giles; while Solis’ decision to score the contest 29-28 Giles wasn’t awful in itself, giving Giles the opening frame was perhaps his worst decision of all.
What’s more, Solis has done it before and will very probably do it again.
A History of Errors
Solis made his debut as a UFC judge at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens in 2014. That night, Solis was on the judging panel for four bouts that went the distance. Aside from Ricardo Lamas’ unanimous decision over Hacran Dias, he was in the minority for all decisions when compared with those from media outlets.
First, in the middleweight contest between Marcelo Guimaraes and Andy Enz, Solis gave the 30-27 nod to Enz; both other judges and every media member scored the bout 29-28 Guimaraes. In the following two bouts, Solis’ incompetence was more damaging as Joe Ellenberger, and Clint Hester picked up split decision victories over James Moontasri and Antonio Braga Neto, respectively. While clearly, one other judge agreed with Solis in both bouts, not a single media member gave Ellenberger the contest, and just two believed Hester deserved his win.
Solis returned to UFC action in 2017 at UFC Fight Night: Bermudez vs. Korean Zombie and once again offered baffling scorecards. The first of these came in a bout between Ricardo Ramos and Michinori Tanaka. While Solis’ decision to give “Carcacinha” the victory over Tanaka echoed the consensus from fans and media members, his decision to award Ramos a 30-27 nod and score the final round in favor of the Brazilian was ludicrous.
On the main card, Volkan Oezdemir defeated Ovince Saint Preux via split decision, and Solis’ decision to award the bout to Oezdemir also drew criticism from fans. Despite a particularly poor performance from “OSP” (and a terrible contest overall), the Haitian still did more than enough, and Oezdemir nowhere near enough in the final two frames to earn the nod. However, Solis and JJ Ferraro determined the Swiss deserved the victory in yet another dreadful decision.
Joe Solis has now judged ten fights for the UFC, and aside from two blatantly obvious decisions in favor of Lamas and Joe Benavidez (against Ali Bagautinov), all of Solis’ scorecards have drawn criticism. Whether the solution is greater training and education, more judges per fight, or reform to the judging criteria is unclear. But change is certainly required, and while judging will always be subjective to a degree, the sooner these poor decisions can be eradicated, the better.
As for Solis, despite two lengthy breaks in between the events he has been involved in, it seems he remains far from the caliber of judge that UFC athletes deserve. Whether he will appear on a UFC judging panel again remains to be seen, but we shouldn’t rule it out; this is the UFC after all.