Dana White speaks at Donald Trump rally in Colorado: ‘We gotta win this election again’

In 2016, Dana White helped Donald Trump get elected President of the United States by speaking at the Republican National Convention.

Four years later, with Trump’s re-election campaign in full swing, the UFC boss is at it again.

On Thursday night, White gave a speech at a Trump rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. Speaking before thousands at Broadmoor World Arena, White didn’t really get into politics. Instead, he mostly touted the character of Trump, who attended UFC 244 last November at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“What’s up, Colorado. How are you today?” White said. “So, I’m not a very political person. I’ll start there. But let me say this: There’s things that I could tell you about the President of the United States that you don’t hear on TV and you don’t hear from other people. I’ve known this man for 20 years. We’ve actually become even closer since he’s become the President of the United States. When somebody becomes the President of the United States, you don’t expect to hear from them again, OK? And I understand it. It absolutely makes sense. This guy is so loyal and such a good friend. When I saw him today, when I met him on Air Force One, the first thing he said to me is, ‘How is your family.’

“Good man, very loyal and a very good friend. I see a lot of things from Mr. Trump that the public doesn’t see, and the people who surround me every day see how this man treats me as a friend and other people he’s friends with. He’s a fighter, he loves this country, he’s doing great things for this country, and we gotta win this election again, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.”

You can watch White’s speech in the video below:

As for how Trump’s rally went, here’s a report via USA TODAY:

President Donald Trump delivered a mostly standard stump speech during a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday night – though he deviated in a few key respects.

Speaking before a cheering crowd at Broadmoor World Arena, the president touted the robust U.S. economy, slammed the state for its immigration policies and touted the trade deals he has signed with Mexico, Canada and several other countries.

Trump is on a four-day swing of western states, scooping up campaign cash and holding a nightly rally.

Trump offered the crowd in Colorado a few new lines:

He went after the Oscars, questioning why the Academy gave its Best Picture award to Parasite, a South Korean film. He also fired back at actor Brad Pitt, calling him a “little wise guy” for an acceptance speech in which he joked about the Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

Trump repeatedly suggested that Colorado, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, was not only in play but that Republicans would win the state in a “landslide.” Colorado has gone Democratic in the last three presidential elections. Still, Trump campaign aides believe they have a decent shot there, depending on the Democratic nominee.

Finally, the president used his rally to expand on his criticism of the Democratic presidential debate that took place the night before. He trained most of his first on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he described as “mini Mike” asserted that he was ”not doing well.”

The rally weighed in at 98 minutes.

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UFC 249 poster released

Khabib Nurmagomedov (pictured) fights Tony Ferguson in the lightweight championship main event of UFC 249 in Brooklyn on April 18 | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tony Ferguson. What else do you need to know?

The two lightweight stars adorn the official poster for UFC 249, which was released Thursday.

Nurmagomedov brings his unbeaten record and undisputed championship into the Octagon on April 18, when he defends against Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event. The pay-per-view takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

With Ferguson on a 12-fight win streak of his own and a series of maladies preventing these two from meeting in the past, it’s no exaggeration to state that this is one of the most highly anticipated MMA bouts in history.

Also mentioned on the poster, though not featured, is a rematch between Jessica Andrade and Rose Namajunas. Andrade defeated Namajunas at UFC 237 to become the strawweight champion, but she’s since lost that title to Zhang Weili. Now, the two former titleholders compete to stay at the top of the rankings.

See the updated card below (bout order to be determined):

Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Jessica Andrade vs. Rose Namajunas

Jeremy Stephens vs. Calvin Kattar

Karl Roberson vs. Makhmud Muradov

Sijara Eubanks vs. Sarah Moras

Uriah Hall vs. Ronaldo Souza

Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad

Khama Worthy vs. Ottman Azaitar

Gian Villante vs. Ben Rothwell

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane

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LFA 82 Weigh-in Results: Title Fight Official; All Pro Fighters Make Weight

Legacy Fighting Alliance returns to the Mystic Lake Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota, for another night of mixed martial arts action, and all pro fighters successfully made weight. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Oleksiejczuk Poised To Bounce Back

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MMA Junkie Radio #3028: Previewing Wilder-Fury 2, trio of UFC and Bellator events, more

Thursday’s edition of MMA Junkie Radio with hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” is here!

On Episode No. 3,028 of the podcast, the guys have plenty of events to look ahead to this weekend, and they react to the latest MMA news and notes.

THE RUNDOWN

  • It’s fight week, all right, especially in Las Vegas, where a a highly anticipated heavyweight boxing rematch will take place between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. We go over what’s so different in promoting boxing and MMA.
  • UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, who defended her belt less than two weeks ago, already is booked to take on Joanne Calderwood this summer at UFC 251. It’s pretty clear that Shevchenko has a clear goal in mind, and we think we know what that is.
  • James Krause is furious about his loss to Trevin Giles at UFC 247 in light of a report that controversial judge Joe Soliz had a conflict of interest. We think Krause has every reason to be upset. It’s actually a situation we can personally relate to.
  • UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, the self-proclaimed “King of Cringe,” probably took things too far this week when he called Aljamain Sterlin “Aljamima” on Twitter. That earned him some backlash from ESPN anchor Karyn Bryant. Did he cross the line?
  • Could the UFC take an NBA All Star Game type of approach to International Fight Week? Max Holloway would like to see it, and we have some ideas.
  • Dustin Poirier vs. Al Iaquinta? Count us in.
  • We preview the trio of events this weekend between the UFC and Bellator, with Bellator 239 on Friday, and UFC Auckland and Bellator Dublin on Saturday.

Stream or download this and all episodes of MMA Junkie Radio over at OmnyStudio, or check it out above. You can also catch it on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, and more. A new episode of the podcast is released every Monday and Thursday.

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Diego Sanchez coach Joshua Fabia explains choke warning to NSAC, chasing Emil Meek with a knife

UFC 239: Weigh-ins

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Diego Sanchez’s coach doesn’t deny his methods are unusual. But he challenges anyone who says they’re not effective, and he believes he’s unfairly being targeted because of them.

”They all want to see what they expect to see, and they can’t understand what they don’t know how to see,” Fabia told MMA Fighting. “And because they’re acting like real Americans, setting the example of what Americans do, something new and you don’t recognize and you don’t like it, you just attack it.”

The coach on Thursday responded to a pair of reports detailing unorthodox behavior backstage at UFC 239 and in training for Sanchez’s fight at UFC Rio Rancho, detailing what he said that was important context that had been left out of the picture.

Fabia called the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s behavior before the bout “a preemptive strike.” He bemoaned “a cultural misunderstanding” and infringement of his “religious rights” when the commission confronted him on four different occasions for a variety of issues.

The coach also indicated attacks on his credibility were influenced by race.

”It’s very interesting that it’s mostly almost all white people talking sh*t about me,” Fabia said. “I’m the smallest guy in the stadium, and it’s people talking sh*t about me that have never ever talked to me.”

On Thursday, MMA Junkie reported that Fabia warned the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Sanchez could kill opponent Michael Chiesa with a modified guillotine choke and slam that he’d learned during work with paramilitary groups in South America. The report said the bout was nearly canceled as officials investigated his claim, but in the end, they only issued a verbal warning to be sportsmanlike in competition. Chiesa said he laughed off the move after it was demonstrated on him and mocked its potential in a real fight.

The NSAC declined comment on the story when contacted by MMA Fighting. Chiesa did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Fabia defended his behavior and said his warning came as a result of repeated mistreatment. He said he was trying to defend his fighter from unfair officiating.

”The referee comes in to give us the basic rules and basic rundown,” he said. “But he did something very interesting – he really over-iterated the, ‘If you don’t defend yourself or move within three seconds, I’m going to call it.’ And I thought, ‘Well, jeez, that sounds like you’re already trying to call it.’ OK, that makes sense. You already put him against the guy that’s bigger.

”Me not being a fool, I’m also aware of, OK, well we have been working some pretty serious stuff that if you don’t see it, by the time it goes a little farther, if the person doesn’t go with it, absolutely, a person could get hurt. That is the way you should be functioning. I don’t need to manhandle you; I need to put you in a position of which you either have to go my way, or you break yourself. So now, I’m feeling compelled in this situation that, OK, we’re about ready to come out guns-a-blazing, and I better let him, as referees, have space for the liability here. OK, you want to come at me like that? Well, let me explain this.”

And not only explain, but demonstrate the hold, which he said was the product of work as a “former private military contractor” (he declined to answer additional questions about his work, citing nondisclosure agreements that prevented him from speaking publicly).

”So here’s the ref, looking at me like I’m a jackass, and I do it to him,” Fabia said. “You could see the fear of god come in his eyes. Here’s the rest of the story they don’t tell you.

”It must have scared the NSAC and everybody so bad that the president of the NSAC, another guy from the commission, both referees, pull me out again in the hallway, and now they want to grill me on how the f*ck I know this, when you don’t ask any coach how they know anything. So what’s going on, then?

”It’s pretty clear if your referee doesn’t call it, it is potentially dangerous. That’s on you, ref. It ain’t my fault you don’t know my moves. I’m just giving you awareness. Now, what do they do? Now they steamroll me, and instead of going, ‘Hey, can we speak to your fighter,’ they go right in and start taking everything out of Diego.”

Fabia said as the result of the pressure, Sanchez completely changed his game plan during the fight, wrestling instead of striking with Chiesa, who pitched a shutout on scorecards with unanimous 30-26 scores.

”I don’t want to hear any of this shi*t,” Fabia said. “This is all bullsh*t. They want to come at me like that? That’s interesting that you’re that scared, that that’s the angle you want to come at me.”

The confrontation was the last of disruptions Fabia said began with his decision to burn a piece of Palo Santo wood in a prayer before Sanchez faced danger in the octagon; the commission asked him to snuff out the smoke. He said a commissioner and an NSAC doctor also took issue with him putting peppermint hemp oil up Sanchez’s nose to clear his nasal pathways.

”Diego’s had his nose broken how many times, and breathing is a very important part, so why are we in so much shock that we’re doing it in preparation before a big fight?” he said. “Really kind of awe-inspiring about everybody making a big deal, because I’m not using the western sniffer because of the situation Diego is in with his specific nose. Which, as his coach, I’m aware of which airway isn’t working, which part of his nasal passage has been collapsed.

”When the doctor asked me about it, I had to tell him to his face, ‘You’re a doctor and you don’t know how to do this?’ What’s really shocking is you don’t know how to do this, and you’re trying to put pressure on me that I’m a weirdo because I know how to take care of somebody better than you do? Because I’m not shy about putting a finger up his nose?

”In reality, it kind of sounds like they’re a little scared of me. It kinda sounds like they’re scared of the smallest guy in the f*cking stadium. I don’t know how much insecurity I’m creating in them, but clearly, something is being stirred deep inside these people that they will not stand next to me. They will not allow me to exist. They will not state the facts.”

****

In the wake of Sanchez’s controversial disqualification victory over Michel Pereira at UFC Rio Rancho, other fighters have questioned Fabia’s methods.

UFC welterweight Emil Meek said the coach chased him around the octagon with a knife at the UFC Performance Institute during Sanchez’s training camp for Pereira.

”Man, it was the craziest sh*t I’ve ever done,” Meek told the South China Morning Post. “At one point, he was running after us in a locked cage with a real, sharp blade, to make us move.”

MMA Fighting was unable to reach Meek for comment. But Fabia defended the drill as a useful way to prepare fighters for incoming strikes in octagon combat. He downplayed the severity of using both a knife and several sticks to help motivate the fighters to learn movement and said several UFC fighters, including Meek, Max Griffin Tristan Connelly, praised his coaching.

”The drill is, they’re all in the octagon, moving, trying not to touch each other, or get touched by each other,” he said. “So I want you to think of an athletic, high-speed game of tag that allows you to play, but also play with that fear and anxiety space, without getting hurt, without feeling you can’t make a mistake.

”And so, this is happening, five, six, seven, eight, guys, and I progressively come in and I say, ‘On top of the game that’s going on, this is to enhance your awareness, now I’m coming in, do not allow me to touch you also. So now I’m like a wild animal, putting pressure on all of them and not allowing them to stay focused on their specific thing, and just moving them. This is what I do. I go out, they’re continuing again, I come in with a stick, make them move from the stick at different lengths and different speeds. This is why Pereira didn’t land those big kicks on Diego. Amazing.

”So now, the drill has been picked up, and now you need truth, because I can tell that you’re playing. You’re not treating each touch as if it was true danger. Where if I treat each strike as a knife strike, you will move. Now before this drill even began, I showed them the power of the history of metal in the human body by showing them that Diego, with his eyes closed, I can move a knife toward his body, and his body will feel it. You can see his body reacting. That the human body can feel metal; it’s different. It’s from the history of how much the human body has been stabbed. I show them visually, they see it, they have idea.

”Now, 20 minutes later, yeah, I chase them around with a knife to make them move, so they realize, I’m not playing around. And if you think the guy in the ring when it’s one-on-one is playing around, that might be why you end up losing an eye.”

Asked about Meek’s account, Griffin laughed and confirmed Fabia had tried to hit him with a stick during a training session before he had to leave for physical therapy. He said the warmup for the session consisted of 100 continuous tumbles that tested his vestibular system.

Griffin also said Fabia had lectured the fighters about knives and claimed their bodies wouldn’t allow them to get stabbed.

”You’re damn right,” he said of his response to Fabia. “I’m not letting you stab me.”

When Griffin ran into Meek after the session, he said the Norwegian fighter “was tripping.”

“He said, ‘That f*cking dude, he had a f*cking knife,’” Griffin said. “It was funny, but then (former UFC fighter and PI executive) Forrest (Griffin) had to take it. Forrest had to shut it all down.”

Griffin called Fabia’s coaching “unique,” but didn’t dismiss it outright.

”It had some value in it,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it for a training camp or anything. I would do it to mix something in. I wouldn’t do it every day.”

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Edmen Shahbazyan-Derek Brunson Tilt Moved From UFC 248 to UFC Portland

UFC 248 in March has taken yet another hit, this time in the form of a top-10 ranked middleweight battle. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dan Hooker Has Earned This Moment

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Kristina Williams wants to make impression in final fight of contract at Bellator 239

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Kristina Williams will be a free agent after Bellator 239, and she hopes the promotion will bring her back.

Williams (3-2 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) has fought all of her career bouts under the Bellator banner. She completes her current contract Friday with a matchup against kickboxing standout Denise Kielholtz (4-2 MMA, 4-2 BMMA), and thus far hasn’t been offered anything new.

It appears her performance against Kielholtz will influence what type of offers come her way going forward, and from whom.

“This is my last fight on my contract so I kind of want to see if Bellator is going to re-sign me,” Williams told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I would like to be re-signed. I would just like to stay very active in the division.”

Bellator 239 takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort. The women’s flyweight bout between Williams and Kielholtz is part of the prelims, which stream on MMA Junkie prior to the main card on Paramount.

Williams, who hasn’t fought since a TKO loss to Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 224 in July, said the matchup should bring out the best of her.

“I think she’s a really good opponent for me,” Williams said. “I think our styles are going to match up really well to make a really exciting fight for everyone.”

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Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Derek Brunson fight moved from UFC 248 to UFC Portland

Edmen Shahbazyan | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Middleweight prospect Edmen Shahbazyan won’t be part of the UFC 248 pay-per-view after all.

The undefeated 22-year-old announced on social media that his upcoming bout with Derek Brunson scheduled for March 7 in Las Vegas has been moved. The matchup will now take place at an upcoming Fight Night event at Moda Center in Portland, Ore., on April 11, MMA Fighting confirmed with sources.

Shahbazyan did not reveal the reason for the rescheduling, and sources did not offer additional information on the shift.

Shahbazyan currently is 11-0 as a pro with four wins in the UFC, three of which have come by way of first-round finish. Brunson (20-7) will be making his 17th UFC appearance. He is on a two-fight win streak after outpointing Ian Heinisch and Elias Theodorou in back-to-back outings last year.

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Bellator Signs Former Cage Warriors Champion Ross Houston

One more Cage Warriors Fighting Championship alum has made it to the big leagues. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Unfiltered Episode 369: Merab Dvalishvili & Niko Price

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Michael Chiesa knew pre-fight of Diego Sanchez’s deadly submission: ‘I immediately started laughing’

That potentially deadly move Diego Sanchez’s coach warned about backstage at UFC 239? Michael Chiesa caught wind of it before the two entered the cage.

As he sat backstage at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena last July, Chiesa said rumblings started swirling about some odd happenings in his opponent’s locker room. The current welterweight contender and winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 15” said he knew from the moment he signed on to fight Sanchez that a few odd moments were likely, but this went beyond anything he could anticipate.

“We’re in the back, and the antics are already going on through fight week, so I’m obviously assuming things are going to be a little weird on fight night – not this bad,” Chiesa told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “It kind of started when Don House came and wrapped my hands, and he was just kind of laughing. He was like, ‘Man, he’s being a wild man back there,’ not really giving me details, but I’m already catching wind that things are kind of weird in the locker room. Then the person that I’m not going to name came to me and was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to tell you, there’s talks of this crazy submission that he wants to try on you.’”

As MMA Junkie previously reported, Sanchez’s current manager and trainer, Joshua Fabia, warned Nevada Athletic Commission and UFC officials that he had armed his pupil with a maneuver so dangerous that it could potentially paralyze or even kill Chiesa if applied in the fight.

“I got a demonstration of what it was, and I mean, I immediately started laughing,” Chiesa said. “I was like, ‘If you think for a second you’re going to like reverse ‘Stone Cold Stunner’ me in a high-level mixed martial arts contest, you’re off your (expletive) rocker – pardon my language. But yeah, I knew what the move was.

“It was like if he had my chin, and his chest was on the back of my head like a guy would go for a guillotine, and it was like he was going to rotate and turn his back to me while still holding my chin, basically putting the back of my neck on his shoulder, and drop down. We started laughing. We’re like, ‘This is so funny.’”

Commission officials weren’t quite as entertained and wanted to speak with UFC officials before allowing the fight to continue, though the group eventually decided that the risk of Sanchez actually completing such a technique was minimal.

For his part, Chiesa said he never felt any type of heightened concern for his own well being. In fact, he said his team discussed the possibility of intentionally giving up his neck in the fight just so that when Sanchez applied the hold and began to turn his body, Chiesa could immediately take the back.

“This is the same time I’m hearing about the burning of the sage and all the incense and stuff,” Chiesa said. “Buddy, it’s like you’re prepping to go to a yoga class or something. Like, I’m about to (expletive) beat you up, and you’re trying to figure out how to do these fruitcake moves, and you’re sticking tea tree oil up your nose or whatever the hell it was.

“I knew all this stuff was happening, and it was just funny to us. I think that for them, the shock came from the commission because they’re making a big deal about it. So they’re kind of like, ‘What the hell?’ But no, never at any point did I feel like I was about to be in any type of – there’s no immediate danger to go beyond getting in a mixed martial arts fight, so the guy’s just nuts.”

Chiesa was dominant in the fight, cruising to a decision win, 30-26, on all three judges’ cards, and he’s since added a win over former UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos to his record, as well, putting him on a three-fight winning streak in the welterweight division.

With the pre-UFC 239 incident now public knowledge some seven months after it unfolded, Chiesa said he doesn’t hold any ill will toward Sanchez. However, he does hope the 38-year-old veteran will seek out some additional guidance in the final stages of his legendary MMA career rather than his recent practice of entering the cage with Fabia as his lone cornerman.

“I’m not trying to disrespect (Fabia),” Chiesa said. “He has a particular thing he does well, but I really wish we could see Diego with like, a boxing coach and a couple other guys.”

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Video: Kiefer Crosbie ‘super motivated’ following birth of son days before Bellator Dublin

MMA Fighting

DUBLIN — Kiefer Crosbie revealed how the arrival of his son, just days out from Bellator Dublin, has motivated him. The North Dublin native also discussed being in the conversation to be called up to the main event following close friend James Gallagher’s exit as well as how it feels to compete in the “deafening” atmosphere of the 3 Arena and having Conor McGregor show up for his fights in the venue.

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James Gallagher vs. Cal Ellenor to Headline Upcoming Bellator London Event

Bellator MMA has scheduled a trip to London this year, and will be bringing with it a fight months in the making. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Brad Riddell Always Shows Up

Following his Fight of the Night debut, Brad Riddell is eager to make his stamp on the lightweight division.

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Chris Weidman vs. Jack Hermansson verbally agree to fight at UFC Oklahoma City

The UFC Oklahoma City main event is close to fruition.

A five-round middleweight fight pinning former UFC champ Chris Weidman against top contender Jack Hermansson has been verbally agreed to, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to MMA Junkie on Thursday.

The person asked to remain anonymous as the bout is not set and the promotion has yet to make an announcement. The news was first reported by ESPN.

UFC Oklahoma City takes place Saturday, May 2 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The event does not have an official numerical designation, though it is expected to stream on ESPN+.

Weidman (14-5 MMA, 10-5 UFC) moves back to middleweight after an unsuccessful attempt at the UFC’s light heavyweight division. At UFC on ESPN 6 in October, Weidman was knocked out in 103 seconds by future title challenger Dominick Reyes.

The former middleweight king has struggled recently, losing five of six fights. All five losses in that stretch came by knockout or TKO.

As for Hermansson (20-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC), the Norwegian fighter also seeks a return into the win column. “The Joker” won four straight fights and surged up the divisional ladder – en route to a September main event against Jared Cannonier. Despite being the hometown and betting favorite, Hermansson was defeated by second-round TKO.

The latest UFC Oklahoma City card now includes:

  • Jack Hermansson vs. Chris Weidman
  • Sarah Alpar vs. Duda Santana
  • Claudia Gadelha vs. Marina Rodriguez

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Retro Robbery Review: Paul Felder vs. Edson Barboza 2 at UFC 242

Paul Felder and Edson Barboza at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7, 2019 | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Few things infuriate MMA fans more than a fight being scored incorrectly, though the term “robbery” tends to be thrown around carelessly and is often steeped in bias. With Robbery Review, we’ll take a look back at controversial fights and determine whether the judges were rightly criticized for their decision or if pundits need to examine their own knee-jerk reactions.

With this past weekend’s UFC event free of controversy, we look ahead to this Saturday where Paul Felder meets Dan Hooker in the lightweight main event of UFC Auckland. Riding a five-fight win streak at 155 pounds (Felder lost once during this streak when he stepped up on short-notice to fight Mike Perry in a welterweight bout), Felder seems poised to earn a title shot. However, his most recent victory was a split nod over Edson Barboza at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi last September and there was room for interpretation after the scores were read.

So let’s give it a proper look-over in this Retro Robbery Review.

What was the official result?

Paul Felder def. Edson Barboza via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)

How did the fight go?

As in most of his fights, Barboza is the quicker man out of the gate. Almost every leg kick he throws lands (an ongoing theme in this one) and he doesn’t seem rushed at all even as Felder initiates most of the offense. Clean counters by Barboza, including one that catches Felder as he comes in to clinch.

Both fighters have great success going to the body (again, this holds true throughout the fight) and Felder’s pressure is starting to yield results as there is some swelling over Barboza’s right eye early. Barboza doesn’t let it distract him and he rips Felder with a kick to the body. Later, we see blood over Felder’s eye, apparently from a headbutt, and he wisely signals to the judges that the cut on his hairline did not come from a scoring strike. Still, Barboza looks to be ahead after consistently beating Felder to the punch through the first five minutes.

Round two is incredibly close as both men continue to punish each other’s bodies. Felder is having a better time of landing strikes to the head, but Barboza always seems to avoid the end of Felder’s combinations. About a minute in, Barboza surprises Felder with a successful double leg takedown and we have a major turning point; however, it’s in favor of Felder, not Barboza. Felder slices Barboza up with elbows from the bottom and even throws up an armbar that is well-defended. The ground exchange has to be scored in Felder’s favor here. Back on the feet, Barboza’s counter game remains strong, but Felder is landing more than he did in the first.

Interesting note: Between rounds, Barboza’s corner tells him that he is up 2-0.

Does this lead to Barboza taking his foot off the gas at all?

One thing that is for certain is that Felder is fighting like he’s behind, coming forward as much as possible. He lands a clean right hand in close, but Barboza doesn’t show signs of being hurt. Felder’s jab is on point in round three. Barboza later lands a whipping spinning backfist right across Felder’s chin. It holds up. Felder’s volume is racking up points, the problem is that Barboza is responding with more visibly powerful punches.

A great fight and the outcome is anything but obvious as they go to the scorecards.

What did the judges say?

Howie Booth scored it 30-27 Barboza.

David Lethaby scored it 29-28 Felder.

Maria Makhmutova scored it 30-27 Felder.

These scorecards were something else.

While the fight was close, you can understand Barboza’s frustration given that somehow one judge saw the fight go entirely his way and another not even give him a single round. As for Lethaby, he gave Barboza round one and scored the last two for Felder.

In speculating on what the judges may have seen, Booth appeared to favor Barboza’s accuracy and the impact of his counters as well as the takedown he scored in round two even though that led to more significant offense for Felder than Barboza. Makhmutova was likely won over by the volume and aggression of Felder as he marched forward for almost the entire fight and threw plenty of combinations.

What did the numbers say?

(Statistics per UFC Stats)

In total strikes, this one was as close as it gets. The final tally was 77 to 75 in Barboza’s favor, with Barboza holding a 60-56 advantage in significant strikes. Breaking the significant strike count down by rounds, Barboza won the first by 11 (24-13) and the second by one (21-20), while Felder won the third by eight (23-15).

Felder was far more active in round three, throwing 57 strikes (including 52 to the head) to Barboza’s 26.

Barboza had the lone takedown of the bout in round two. His late takedown attempt at the end of round three was not scored as successful.

What did the media say?

(Data derived from MMA Decisions and Verdict MMA)

Of the 16 outlets tallied on MMA Decisions, three scored the fight for Felder, 13 for Barboza.

What did the people say?

Per MMA Decisions, 60.8 percent of voters scored the fight 29-28 for Barboza, with the next highest result being 27.7 percent in favor of the 29-28 Felder score.

Verdict MMA’s scoring system, which takes the cumulative total of every submitted score (filtering out aberrant scores like random 10-7s if they comprise less than one percent of the total) in each round divided by the amount of submitted scores, resulted in Barboza winning by a narrow margin of 28.61 to 28.45.

While users felt that Felder edged out rounds two and three, Barboza’s wider margin of victory in round one led to him receiving a higher total Verdict score.

How did I score it?

I’m going rogue.

With respect to Booth, Lethaby, and Makhmutova, I don’t think any of them scored all three rounds correctly. I saw Barboza having the clear striking edge in round one (10-9 Barboza), Felder doing most of the damage from bottom position in round two (10-9 Felder), and Barboza landing the cleaner shots in round three (10-9) despite losing the statistical battle. On that last point, what I mean is that Barboza’s crisp counters registered as more significant in my mind than Felder’s jabs. Incredibly close fight to call though.

Was it a robbery?

Nah.

In a strange way, the wildly diverging trio of scorecards accurately reflects just how difficult this fight was to judge. Even if you’re not giving Felder points for just advancing (which you shouldn’t), he stood in the pocket with Barboza and threw mostly head strikes (he attempted nearly twice as many head strikes as Barboza during the fight, 137-74), which is a tried and true way to positively influence scoring.

Barboza was cut up in round two, but he may have been rewarded for the takedown and on the feet he continued to give Felder problems. His corner did him a disservice by telling him that he was up on the scorecards heading into the final round as their strategy allowed Felder to look like the fresher and more active fighter.

Where Barboza has a legitimate grievance is Makhmutova scoring the fight 30-27 for Felder.

Neither the stats, public opinion, nor my own evaluation found any solid justification for giving Felder round one. So if you want to say that one judge robbed Barboza, that’s fair, but there’s enough tangible evidence for Makhmutova to defend her scores for rounds two and three, which would change her score to a more reasonable 29-28. Still a split decision loss for Barboza.

The final verdict

Not a robbery.

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