Henderson vs Melendez: Breaking Down the FightMetric Numbers

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIApril 21, 2013

Apr 20, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; Benson Henderson (right) fights Gilbert Melendez (left) during the lightweight championship bout of the UFC on Fuel TV at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Gilbert Melendez got robbed on Saturday night! Or did he?

Fans who attended UFC on Fox 7 in San Jose were very vocal about their disagreement with the judges decision to award Benson Henderson a split-decision victory.

The controversy grew even more when Fox commentators Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann both told the home audience that they scored each of the first three rounds for Melendez.

However, thanks to the stat-counting website FightMetric, we can take a look at the numbers and see whether or not the judges got it right. 

In terms of strikes attempted, we can see that Melendez was the more active fighter in four of the five rounds, but he did not outscore Henderson in terms of landed strikes in any of the rounds.

Let's take a look at the scoring criteria for UFC contests: 

  • Effective striking
  • Effective grappling
  • Octagon control
  • Effective Aggression

Of the strikes that technically scored for Benson Henderson were his series of leg kicks that were thrown in all five rounds. However, Melendez did a fantastic job of countering those kicks by catching the leg and countering with a trip or strike.

For that reason, it's difficult to suggest that Benson clearly won any of the early rounds, despite his margin of victory in significant strikes.

In terms of effective grappling, we see that Henderson went 0-for-4 in takedown attempts throughout the fight. Meanwhile, he was taken down by Melendez in Round 1 and tripped at several points. That leans us towards Melendez in terms of effective grappling throughout the contest.

Then when you consider that Melendez spent a healthy portion of the contest pushing the pace and going toe-to-toe with the champion, it's hard to justify El Nino not pulling ahead in the areas of Octagon control or effective aggression.

However, the numbers dictate that Henderson did enough to earn the victory by allowing Melendez to score less than 10 significant strikes in each of the final three frames. In a fight that was largely contested on the feet, that is fairly damning evidence.

What do you think about the decision? Tell us in the comments below.