The fallout of the UFC 202 headliner between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz included an underlying notion from many fans that the fight was somehow rigged. This was partly due to the fact that not one judge scored the fight for Diaz and also because, well, the fight involved one of the Diaz brothers.
I’ll admit, I was one of those venting my frustrations on Twitter, saying I was done with the UFC. This has everything to do with the fan in me who was pulling for Diaz and nothing to do with a belief that the UFC is actually predetermining who’s going to win and lose certain fights. The vibe I got from the Twitterverse was that people being genuine with their thoughts felt that the judges were paid off, somehow.
It would have been one thing if both McGregor and Diaz danced around for five rounds and hugged it out at the end, but these guys tore each other up from start to finish. This isn’t the WWE. There are no scripts here. Well, let’s roll that back, the build-up leading to the fight appears to have many scripted parts nowadays, but there’s no question the fights are legit.
You don’t really believe fights are rigged, do you?
Take into account a couple of variables that make it nearly impossible to script a UFC fight. For one, the judges are not employees of the UFC, nor are they affiliated with the promotion. Each judge is licensed and appointed by the state athletic commission for which they work. While it’s not impossible for there to be an exchange of cash between a promotion and a judge for a particular outcome to occur, we’d surely have heard from a whistleblower about any sort of offer to score a fight one way or another.
Second, in the hundreds and thousands of fights we’ve watched, you can probably narrow it down to just a few that didn’t feel right. That’s just a few fights where it looked like somebody took a dive or didn’t want to be there, for whatever reason. In MMA, there is simply not enough money being paid to the average fighter in any of the promotions to approach them and advise them to go along with losing a fight. Not only that, but there is so much turnover throughout the promotions that it wouldn’t take long for somebody to pull the curtain back and expose any such dealings if any of this nonsense was going on.
We knew there was going to be a third fight between McGregor and Diaz regardless of how their second fight turned out. Granted, when the 47-47 score was read, the first thing that came to mind was that this fight was going to end in a draw and the UFC would milk these guys for five fights. However, it was McGregor with his hand raised and Diaz saying he never thought for a second that he lost. It’s the perfect setup for the trilogy.
Let’s vent our frustrations when our guy doesn’t win, but let’s not suggest these events are rigged. The same goes for the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Things don’t go our way sometimes, but there’s no rhyme or reason to throwing your arms up and saying the fix was in. There are too many smart people working in the UFC to risk everything that it’s been built up to be.
Could the MMA promotion one day turn into a WWE-like business in which they develop storylines and change to a “fake” form of fighting? Sure, it could happen, and it’d most likely happen once all those lawsuits for CTE start to roll in. The chances of that ever happening, though? Not likely.
The UFC isn’t rigged. There’d be too much cover up and too much risk involved for the organization to go down that road. If McGregor/Diaz III ends in a draw, though, we can all reserve the right to change our opinion.