Commentary

UFC sparks controversy in Cotai

Originally Published: August 25, 2014
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

A couple of thoughts on the UFC's two-event weekend, plus fighter grades.

1. What is "enhanced drug testing" and did the UFC really do it this weekend? UFC president Dana White said the promotion utilized enhanced testing in Macau and said it has cost about $2 million (presuming that figure is for the year and not just the Macau card).

The term "enhanced" is borrowed from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The NSAC has utilized an enhanced program, which randomly tests fighters during their training camp, for several UFC fights this year. The UFC has picked up the bill.

The NSAC isn't the only commission that has done this. The Maryland State Athletic Commission hired an agency to run a similar program ahead of a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira in April.

The British Columbia Athletic Commission suspended UFC flyweight contender Ali Bagautinov in July, after an enhanced program turned up a failed drug test.

On the surface, the UFC's announcement that it ran this "enhanced" program on its own (since there is no regulatory body in China) sounds like a good thing -- except, it wasn't an enhanced program. The UFC ordered blood tests on fight night, at a time when banned substances fighters use during camp can already be flushed out of their system.

In addition, by announcing it on UFC Tonight the way the UFC did, the promotion gave fighters 72-hour notice of the blood test, turning an already weak act into a more-or-less meaningless one.

All in all, the UFC has made strides in cleaning up the sport in 2014 and has shown a financial commitment to it -- but Saturday's "enhanced program" was anything but.

2. For the first time to my knowledge, the UFC relieved a judge of his duties during a live event. White confirmed Saturday he removed one of the appointed judges in Macau after the judge, Howard Hughes, was involved in two split decisions.

Hughes, who has a long history of judging in the UFC, scored a bantamweight bout between Royston Wee and Yao Zhikui for Wee, 29-28 -- same as a Paul Sutherland.

Hughes then scored a women's bantamweight fight featuring Milana Dudieva and Elizabeth Phillips for Dudieva, 29-28 -- same as Anthony Dimitriou. White later said he actually agreed with that score, which appeared controversial to many.

So, in both cases, Hughes was in the majority side of the decision.

While it's within White's right to do so during a self-regulated fight, it shouldn't have happened. Maybe -- maybe -- if the situation had involved a judge with no past, turning in two indefensible, egregious scorecards ... White might have had a case.

But we know White. He's extremely passionate, sometimes to a fault. Pulling a judge because he didn't agree with two scorecards in mid-event was ridiculous and it's a dangerous precedent to set.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.