PIERCE: Last Jacksonville Series UFC Event In The Hands Of The Judges
UFC Fight Night main card poster (UFC)
Of the five fights on the main card during the UFC Fight Night in Jacksonville on Saturday, four went to the judge's scorecards for a decision. Of the four decisions, three were extremely close and have received criticism from many people.
Only the main event harbored a finish when No. 8 Alistair Overeem defeated No. 9 Walt Harris in the heavyweight division. In October, his stepdaughter was found dead. Harris stepped into the octagon for the first time on Saturday as he held his emotions in check. Although the feel-good victory did not come for Harris, the entire sports world, including Overeem, felt for him and wished him the best.
Despite not adding to his win column, Harris knows that he will be back and better than ever.
"Tonight, wasn't my night, but you best believe I will be back better!" Harris said on Instagram.
In the first round, Harris was on the attack and nearly put away Overeem. However, he ran out of time and ended up being TKO'ed in the second round.
The highest-profile controversy regarding this Fight Night happened following the decision in the first fight of the main card. The featherweight matchup between Song Yadong and Marlon Vera sparking an outcry of criticism on the internet.
After three rounds of even fighting, the judges sided with Yadong. Immediately following the decision, Twitter blew up Vera's support and how he should have taken the victory. Fighters like Jimi Manuwa, Ben Askren, and more took to the internet to show how the judges got it wrong.
What makes matters worse is that Yadong won in a unanimous decision. The judges did not even split the scorecard. Although Yadong barely out-struck Vera, he did notch two takedowns and used big knees to the body to try and keep in control.
I am not 100% sure that Vera won, but to give Yadong a unanimous decision win seems like it stretches too far.
Another close fight that could have gone the other way was the matchup between No. 15 Dan Ige and Edson Barboza at featherweight. Ige won by a narrow-split decision that UFC President Dana White says may not have been the correct decision.
"I had Barboza winning that fight," and then White said, "He looked good. He looked strong,…especially for a guy that cut that a lot of weight."
On Saturday, Barboza made his featherweight debut after being a lightweight for his entire career. His body mass jump is significant, especially when it is the first time trying to fight at a lighter weight. Nonetheless, he looked fantastic!
I think that the reason Ige was able to come out on top was that he is a natural featherweight, and Barboza hasn't had enough experience at that weight to edge Ige.
The co-main event of the evening was yet another controversial decision that sparked some dialogue on the internet.
No. 6 Claudia Gadelha and veteran Angela Hill duked it out in the strawweight division and went the distance. The 15-minute bout put the decision in front of the judges for the fourth time of the night. I scored the first round to be in Gadelha's favor, but Hill flipped the script and took the second round. With it coming down to the final round, Hill out struck her opponent 43-34.
Although I, along with many personalities in the MMA space, gave Hill the decision victory, the judges sided with Gadelha by split decision. In my opinion, this was the worst decision of the night. Although it was a close, hard-fought bout on both sides of the octagon, it was clear that Hill had a complete reversal after the first round.
With the UFC Fight Night on Saturday evening, the company has wrapped up the three-event run in Jacksonville. White says that if they are not allowed to fight in Las Vegas, Arizona will most likely be the next fight location.
Written by: Drew Pierce