Holding Kevin Mulhall’s hand in the centre of the Octagon while awaiting the judges’ decision must have been an emotionally gruelling experience for Diego Sanchez on Saturday night. The Dream was comprehensively beaten for three rounds in the co-main event of the first UFC card in his home town. He was staring down the barrel of a three-fight losing streak which would have likely resulted in him being cut from the promotion.
“The judges score the contest 30-27 Pearson”, Bruce Buffer bellowed.
Sanchez was on the verge of losing his job after yet another lacklustre performance in which he was outclassed in the striking department yet again.
“30-27 Sanchez.” A perplexed Pearson shakes his head in disbelief.
The general consensus on social media by the MMA cognoscenti was that he lost every round. He desperately needed a miracle to win this fight and keep his place in the UFC.
“…and 29-28 for the winner by split decision Diego ‘The Nightmare’ Sanchez!” Pearson’s arms dropped to his side as he turned away from the camera, visibly disappointed. In contrast, Sanchez fell to his knees crying in cathartic release. Overjoyed, overwhelmed, relieved. Sanchez got his miracle. He lived to fight another day.
— Yancy Medeiros (@ymedeiros) June 8, 2014
That is criminal. Literally, the worst decision I’ve ever seen. Clear 30-27 Mma judging is a joke. @RossTheRealDeal, u were robbed
— TJ Grant (@TJ_Grant) June 8, 2014
Omg how did 2 judges score that fight 30-27 Sanchez? That’s insane and one of the worst robberies. Poor Pearson #ufcfightnight
— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) June 8, 2014
“Never leave it in the hands of the judges”
That MMA adage that has become hackneyed through overuse by Dana White and Joe Rogan must have been echoing through Ross Pearson’s head after the farcical decision. The Sunderland native can have no regrets about his performance though, and he rightfully posed the question “how do you finish Diego Sanchez” in the post-fight press conference.
How does one finish Diego Sanchez? The man has never been stopped in his career bar a doctor stoppage against BJ Penn. His proficiency at eating blows to the head while remaining conscious is unparalleled in the sport. This trait was best exemplified during his fight against Gilbert Melendez last year. “The Dream” may have shown a slight decline in his recent bouts but the strength of his chin has held up.
Pearson did all he could to win the fight. He executed a similar game plan to Myles Jury, when he defeated Sanchez via unanimous decision earlier this year. The Real Deal dodged and weaved to avoid the forward advances of Sanchez while landing flush with body kicks and heavy counter punches. The TUF 9 winner was superb and barely put a foot wrong for 15 minutes.
Sanchez finished every round strong, but this came after extended periods of eating a large quantity of strikes and being outpointed. Not only that, he took a great deal more damage than his opponent. The only reason for the judges awarding him the victory appears to be the fact that he was fighting in front of a home crowd. If this is true, it reflects poorly on the promotion and shows that the judging ability has failed to progress since the inception of modern MMA.
I told everyone that this was going to happen. But wow….. I’m still blown away. Ross won all 3 rounds. Period.
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) June 8, 2014
I’m never one to talk about bad judging, but that was the worst of all time. Keep your head up @RossTheRealDeal !
— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) June 8, 2014
I dunno what those judges were watching? #wtf 30-27 really? He got dropped in the 2nd? How does he win that round ?
— Louis Gaudinot (@LouGaudinotUFC) June 8, 2014
Urijah Faber made a thought-provoking revelation about losing in his book The Laws of the Ring which seems very appropriate for the Albuquerque judging debacle.
“Wins and losses are not the ultimate proof of your effort or ability. The scoreboard is not God, and nobody should worship it.”
Sanchez may have won the battle but Pearson definitely won the war. It has almost been universally accepted that the Brit won this fight, despite what the scorecards read. He will undoubtedly have learned a lot from this bout and will come back as a stronger fighter as a result.
Expect Pearson to fight with a greater intensity in his next trip to the Octagon. Unlike Sanchez, the fire will not be attributed to desperation, frustration or seeking validation. Pearson proved his mettle on Saturday and in his next fight he will be seeking retribution.
Photo Credit: ufc.com