It is not hyperbole to state that one of the most important professions in all of sports is the fight judge. The careers of athletes who train months for a 15- or 25-minute showcase of ability reside with three experts of the field properly assessing the complicated choreography being performed. Every nuance, every stumble, every moment of contact must be carefully recorded to decide the winner of such intense battles of body and mind.
Often, it's good that the vat majority of fight fans don't know your name when you go about your business. It means you're decisions are free of controversy, and that you generally judge a fight the right way. If the fans do know your name, that typically means controversial decisions tend to follow -- and that was the case with Joe Soliz on Saturday night. He enraged a whole lot of people who watched UFC 247 and couldn't believe the judgments that were rendered, and some of the big names in the industry have had enough of his consequential inconsistencies.
Dominick Cruz is one of the more diplomatic voices of the UFC. You'd never take him to be a guy who'd criticize a cageside judge on-air, so when you hear him live insisting that Soliz's license should be revoked, that is an alarming indication that Soliz is not doing his job correctly.
Just look at what happened in Saturday's main event between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes, a fight most observers saw as incredibly close.
(Note that Soliz had his name misspelled as "Solis" on the UFC's official scorecards, so his name may incorrectly appear as such in reports and analysis from many media outlets.)
Thank goodness the decision didn't affect the outcome of the fight. Dominick Reyes wasn't robbed of a chance to secure the belt. But 49-46?? You'd be hard-pressed to find a single impartial observer watching at home who'd award four out of five rounds to Jones. That's simply not the fight we saw. Reyes significantly outlanded Jones, and there's just about zero argument that he didn't win the first two rounds (at the very least).
But this wasn't even Soliz's most egregious scorecard of the night, let alone of his judging past.
To deny James Krause the first round against Trevin Giles after he DOMINATED with positioning, Octagon control and takedowns Saturday night is unbelievably incompetent. There is simply no other way to put it. Fighters are literally at the mercy of having their livelihoods affected because one singular judge doesn't care enough to be a straight shooter.
It's no wonder there are already organizations that are planning on using an open-scoring system in the coming weeks, including Invicta FC, because these fight promotions are growing weary of referee controversies overshadowing excellent fights.
Enough is enough. Stop giving guys like Joe Soliz big fights (three in one night, including the main even?!?) with so much on the line. In fact, let's follow Dominick Cruz's lead and keep him away from the judge's seats for as long as we can. After what we saw Saturday, we just can't risk another disaster under the bright lights with fight fans all over the world watching -- because next time, it could be even worse.