All those hours of preparation, promoting both fights -- flights, hotels, side-by-side interviews -- two weight cuts, 50 minutes of competition inside the Octagon: It all came down to a single Woodley flurry at UFC 209.
As it should have.
Look, Saturday's UFC welterweight title fight rematch was an absolute dud in terms of entertainment value. Thus, it's tempting to simply bury it in the ground and forget about it.
Who won the first round? How about the second? Oh, oh, I know! Who cares, right? The fight stunk. Let's move on.
Except that fight brought up an extremely rare topic in mixed martial arts. And I think we need to have a conversation about this now so that the next time it comes up, we can be in agreement ahead of time.
It basically comes down to this: Does a 10-10 round exist in MMA?
Technically, it does -- for a very distinct purpose. If a fight is waved off due to something like an accidental head butt, and judges need to score a round that only lasted 10 seconds, they need a 10-10 option, yes? Of course.
OK, but how about a full, five-minute round in which neither fighter establishes an advantage of any kind over the other -- like the first round of the Woodley-Thompson fight? Do we get to use the 10-10 score then?
The reason this is so worth discussing now is that if that opening round of Saturday's title fight is not a 10-10, then there is no such thing as a 10-10 score. And for the record, none of the three judges scored that round 10-10.
Nothing happened in the first five minutes of that fight. According to Fightmetric, each welterweight landed five total strikes, which might be generous. Nothing significant landed, and there was no grappling whatsoever.
And yet, all three veteran judges scored the first round 10-9 for Thompson. Why did they do it? The most reasonable explanation, one that many observers mentioned aloud, is that Thompson established "Octagon control."
Did he? The main reasoning behind this seems to be that Thompson took the center of the cage, and Woodley spent most of the round with his back near the fence. That much is true, but does it represent "control" for Thompson?
If anyone believes that's where Thompson wanted the fight to take place -- and/or where Woodley did not -- what are you basing that on? Past fights? Perceived skill sets? Nothing else really supports it. In fact, statistically, Woodley was slightly more efficient that round, landing 41 percent of strikes compared to Thompson's 31 percent.
After the championship bout was over, Woodley addressed fighting with his back to the fence. And based on his comments, it does not sound as if he views it as a position of disadvantage.
"Sometimes, when you're fighting a point fighter, you expect him to run around and stick and move," Woodley said. "I might need that entire 30-foot Octagon to go from my back against the cage all the way across with a blitz to get the opening I need."
Again, this isn't the most exhilarating topic, so let's wrap things up with this: Athletic commissions basically tell us that 10-10 rounds exist, but they shouldn't be used -- that over the course of a five-minute round, a top-notch judge should be able to decipher which athlete held even the slightest advantage.
I am willing to argue that a top-notch judge should have the courage and ability to say, "Hey, that was an anomaly 10-10. And I'm not going to put one of these elite welterweights at a massive disadvantage based solely on where they happened to be standing during a round in which nothing happened."
Because the difference between 10-10 and 10-9 in a razor-thin, chess match, five-round fight is enormous.
Do 10-10 rounds exist? Barely. Five years may go by before we see another one. But if what we saw on Saturday doesn't qualify as one, what in the world does?