Noche UFC: Grasso v Shevchenko 2

Here’s the thing: If fans couldn’t see scorecards, there would be no controversy in this fight. Heading into the official decision, I thought there was a chance of a draw, with Shevchenko winning Rounds 1, 3, and 4, but with Grasso getting a 10-8 in Round 2. Again, I don’t agree with that, but based on how judges typically score, I thought it was either a draw or a Grasso win, 48-46. So when a split draw was read out, I was fine with it. I think most were. The problem came when the scorecards dropped and Mike Bell gave Grasso a 10-8 in the fifth.

Is that a good score? No. By pretty much any reading of the judging criteria, it’s a bad one. Shevchenko cleanly won the first three minutes and change of that round before going for the toss, getting her back taken, and surviving the choke attempt. That offense from Grasso is enough to win the round back, because it was more impactful, but it’s not enough to erase the first 60 percent of the round. And Mike Bell knows that. He has historically been one of the better judges. So let me tell you what actually happened: It was a make-up call.

Everybody makes mistakes, particular officials in sports. Sometimes those people double down on their errors, but much more frequently, we get the make-up call. A referee misses a clear defensive pass interference? Flag is gonna drop pretty quickly the next time that defensive back makes a pass break up. Ref calls a weak charge on Lebron? Next time down the court, Kevin Durant can gently brush a defender and still get one. The make-up call is time-honored tradition in sports to allow officials to even things up after getting it wrong previously. That’s what happened here. After the fifth round, Mike Bell realized he had the fight for Shevchenko but decided that her winning a fight where she was seriously hurt in the second and nearly finished in the fifth, well, that didn’t sit right with him, so he fixed the problem. Was it artful? No. Was it right? Ehhhhh. I’m not that upset with it.

Honestly, the thing that bothers me the most is that he didn’t score Round 2 a 10-8. In my humble opinion, that is the sort of round that demands a 10-8. Judging criteria allows for 10-8s in certain circumstances, but demands them in others. That round felt like a demand, unless you count Shevchenko stalling from top position for 90 seconds as offense. Grasso dominated that round and seriously hurt the former champion. And if he had done that appropriately, like he did for the first fight of the night between  then he wouldn’t have needed the make-up call in the first place.

The one thing that can get in the way here is injury. Shevchenko broke her hand during the fight, so she’s certainly out for some time but probably not that long. Grasso seemed to get through relatively unscathed, but in a fight like that, everyone needs some time off. But you never know. If Shevchenko needs surgery and several months off, maybe Grasso gets a defense in early next year? But I doubt the UFC wants that. The most obvious path forward is the trilogy and   can fight in a true No. 1 Contender matchup.

As for UFC 300? Possibly. There are already rumors that the promotion is going to Mexico next year, so if that’s any time in the first two quarters, you just hold that fight for that card. But if it’s not, UFC 300 in April could make a lot of sense as a co-main event or third title fight.