The game of mixed martial arts can bear the fruit of the highest highs and at times that fruit can prove spoiled.
This is the game.
The elation would not be as jubilant if the depressions were not as harsh as they are, and many athletes including both Reece McLaren and James Sargison would have it any other way.
Reece fought most recently on Friday the 2nd of August on ONE Championships Dawn of Heroes card.
The opponent was Danny 'The King" Kingad who is no pushover by any means, going 10-1 with his sole loss coming at the hands of the former champion.
Kingad is trained at the reputable Team Lakay gym with close ties to the promotion.
Now we are not insinuating any foul play here, but what was meant to be a redemption story for Reece was somewhat marred by the result of that evening and the officiating that delivered Reece his second loss in two outings.
A loss we the Author community, the Reddit MMA page with over 7000,000 contributors, and famed analysts such as Jack Slack all found to be egregious.
As you may know, Reece came up short in the opening round of the flyweight tournament dropping a decision to tough Kazakh wrestler, Kairat Akhmetov, who could not proceed through the tournament due to injury.
Reece was invited to proceed in the tournament and did so.
The judges of the evening may have been swayed by the hometown fighters crowd exploding every time Kingad escaped (which is a defensive reaction to someone who is winning) or simply could be pegged to sheer incompetence as ONE Championship employ their own judges and staff with no third-party governing body.
This can become quite a conflict of interest.
The fight went well for Reece as he hit a takedown very early in the first and hit mat returns to stifle the attempts of Kingad to return to his feet.
Kingad reversed the position and went for an ill attempted armbar that Reece thwarted and resumed control in top turtle before taking the back and staying there.
At the end of the round, Reece had scored three takedowns and spent 90% of the round in a dominant position.
Worth noting here is that ONE Championship scores for the whole fight and not round by round...
Round two Reece gets back to work and hits another takedown and secures mount before with Kingad reverses the position before Reece attacked a leg and reverses again.
Reece continues his ground attack and ends the round in another dominant position.
By the end of the round, Reece has two takedowns and spends three minutes in control.
Third round Kingad hits an early takedown with Reece reversing and standing back to his feet.
Again, Kingad hits an upper-body takedown and Reece immediately scrambles to his feet and hits his own takedown before securing mount.
Reece attempts a D'arce choke with Kingad defending well into a takedown of his own.
The final two minutes see Kingad struggle to contain Reece or transition to aa dominant position as Reece defends and stands before being taken down again.
Kingad reverses a butterfly sweep into side control and throws some elbows before Reece stands and attempts a takedown.
One takedown and over 3 minutes of control for Reece in this round to make 6 takedowns for the fight and nearly 70% of the fight in control on the ground.
Kingad had success with about 13 significant strikes and 4 reversals.
Again, One championship scores the fight in its entirety and has every right to do so.
Kingad wins the fight by split-decision, meaning two judges scored for him and one judge scored for Reece.
The issue is the ambiguity this presents for spectators and especially the fighters, as the fight we watched declared a winner that only had success when his opponent had tired from out-grappling him with two minutes left.
This is problematic as fighters can use this precedent to coast the fight and then have a strong showing in the final two minutes to sway the judges.
We are still trying to reconcile the decision with the events that transpired during the fight and may never understand at what point does this warrant a successful outing for a fighter to be in an inferior position and land minimal strikes for nearly the entire duration of the contest.
Disappointing, but as Reece said: