Monday Mailbag: Was Chris Curtis robbed by Brendan Allen? Plus, Jon Jones’ latest controversy

We did it everyone! It’s UFC 300 fight week! Whoooooooo!

This past Saturday we slogged our way through UFC Vegas 90, so now it’s onto the best week of the year. But before we get to that, there are a few loose ends to tie up from last weekend, so let’s go ahead and address those, and then the party can begin.

UFC Vegas 90 Main Event

“How is Curtis’ leg? And were the judges drunk when the scored Allen the winner?”

ICYMI: Brendan Allen took home a split decision over Chris Curtis at UFC Vegas 90, and Curtis likely tore his hamstring in the final moments of the fight.

At this current juncture, we have no new developments on the state of Curtis’s leg. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday, which will confirm things, but it seems extremely likely he tore his hamstring and is looking at four or more months of recovery. That sucks for Curtis. I tore my hamstring playing rugby in college and it’s literally never been the same. I rushed my recovery and kept screwing it up, and now it’s just an ever-present factor I have to negotiate around with stretching, warmup, and workouts. Granted, I’m not a professional athlete, but still, I was 20 years old. Curtis is 36. It’s fair to wonder how this will affect the final chapters of his career.

As for the judges, no, they were not drunk. Scoring the fight for Brendan Allen was entirely reasonable. I scored it 48-47 for Allen and I was not drunk. Allen pretty clearly won the first and fourth rounds. Curtis clearly won the second. I scored the third round for Curtis as well but it’s not insane to score it for Allen, even with the near knockdown, because Allen has so much back control. And the fifth is a toss-up I scored for Allen.

If you scored the fight for Chris Curtis, I have no issue with that, but this idea that Curtis was robbed is nuts. It was a competitive fight. Those happen among the best guys in the world.

Back control

“We have clear(ish) guidance for scoring striking impact with lacerations, welts, etc. When will we get the same for effective grappling? I think people bring up the fallacy of control time because we don’t have clarity.”

Probably never because athletic commissions are bafflingly bad at their jobs. It would be exceedingly easy to draw clear lines around scoring criteria for everything in MMA, but instead it’s all left vague. My belief is that they do this because if things were more clear, then commissions would be backed into a corner for disciplining judges who blatantly just make stuff up out there, whereas when they leave things open-ended, it obfuscates things to a point where they simply can do nothing.

But, to throw the commissions a bone, the scoring criteria for “effective grappling” is basically as clear as the “effective striking” criteria. Here’s the language from the ABC website:

“Successful execution of takedowns, submission attempts, reversals, and the achievement of advantageous positions that produce immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute to the end of the match, with the IMMEDIATE weighing more heavily than the cumulative impact. It shall be noted that a successful takedown is not merely a changing of position, but the establishment of an attack from the use of the takedown.”

And this is where people consistently screw things up when it comes to arm-chair judging. Because the UFC has made it a talking point that “damage is prioritized” in scoring, large swaths of fans have interpreted that to mean damage is the only thing that matters. That’s categorically untrue. For one, damage isn’t actually the term, it’s “impact” and for another, it is the most important point thing, not the only thing. If, for instance, Islam Makhachev takes Alexander Volkanovski’s back for four minutes but Volk lands more punches over his shoulder, Volk does not win the round. Volk’s punches are not contributing to the end of the match. Makhachev’s back control is.

I’m talking about all of this here because, to circle back to the previous question, we now exist in the bizarro world where a lot of people believe that back control only matters if it leads to damage or a submission. That’s insane. Back control is an asymmetrical position. When Brendan Allen has Chris Curtis back for five-plus minutes, Curtis poses no threat to him. Conversely, for that entire time, Curtis is in immediate and catastrophic peril. To give that no credence is absurd. The gist of the reprioritized rules was to ensure that judges stopped rewarding takedowns for the sake of takedowns as the guard is a neutral position, not to make grappling a “submit them or bust” game. Just go watch kickboxing if you have no interest in rewarding grappling success.

And just to pick nits, “control time” isn’t a fallacy. It is part of the scoring criteria, just low down on the totem pole. “Fighting area control” is essentially third on the list of scoring criteria behind “effective striking/grappling” and “effective aggression.”

UFC Vegas 90 continued

I am always in favor of not watching UFC APEX cards if you have anything else to do. You can just check out (great website) for all the highlights and can’t-miss action.

That being said, the UFC Vegas 90 main card was actually pretty damn fun. The main event is probably frontrunner for Fight of the Year (it’s been a weak year) and still somehow didn’t even win Fight of the Night. Granted, not a lot at stake but still enjoyable fights. The prelims were a slog, but so it goes. If you spent your Saturday flicking between this and the Final Four, I don’t think you were too disappointed.


“Considering the recent release of Ronda’s second autobiography, if you could choose any MMA fighter past or present to write an autobiography, whose would you be most interested in reading?”

I’ve read a fair number of MMA biographies as a result of working in the space and just general curiosity, and almost all of them are pretty mediocre. Most fighters simply don’t have enough good stories to fill a book (really, most people don’t) and they also tend to want to put out the rose-colored versions of themselves. The exception to this is Shamrock: The World’s Most Dangerous Man. For my money, it’s the best of the bunch.

So with that in mind, if I got to choose one fighter to get an autobiography from, it would probably be Charles Bennett, AKA “Krazy Horse,” AKA “Felony.” Bennett has no shortage of stories and strikes me as the kind of man who wouldn’t sugarcoat his own transgressions. Plus, I doubt we’ll ever get that. Guys like Fedor Emelianenko and Khabib Nurmagomedov will inevitably have biographies about them. “Krazy Horse” likely won’t, but I’d love to read it.

Jon Jones

“Do you expect the Jon Jones situation overshadowed UFC 300 this weekend?”

ICYMI: Jon Jones was accused of assaulting a drug-testing agent, something he categorically denies.

HA! Of course not. UFC 300 is the biggest event in promotional history (not in terms of sales, but in terms of effort and focus). As things currently stand, Jones has not been charged with anything, and more importantly, he’s not fighting this weekend. If UFC 300 was going to be headlined by Jones vs. Stipe Miocic (as people once believed), then this would be an entirely different and much bigger story. But for now, this is just a blip. Of course, that could all change, but unless Jon Jones turns out to be the Zodiac Killer and that news breaks on Thursday, nothing that happens with him is going to overshadow UFC 300.

As for Mr. Jones, what more is there to say? I truly have no idea if he did was he’s being accused of. Perhaps Jones is completely innocent. But it sure is odd that these sorts of things just keep happening to him. When Nate Diaz has a USADA agent come to his house, police reports aren’t filed. When other fighters get inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, they don’t headbutt a police car and scream obscenities.

There’s an old saying that I keep coming back to with regards to Jon Jones and Conor McGregor: If you run into an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. If you run into assholes all day long, you’re the asshole. A vast, vast majority of fighters have long, productive careers and never once run into the sort of trouble the follows Jones around like shadow, and there’s a simple explanation for why that is. Legally, Jones is and should remain innocent until proven guilty. But let’s just say I’m not rushing to give him the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for everyone who sent in tweets (Xs?)! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer my favorite ones! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane, just so long as they are good. Thanks again, and see y’all next week.

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