Judging controversies seem to follow the UFC everywhere it goes, but Saturday's victory by Phil Davis over former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, raised more than a few eyebrows.
After the second round of the three-round bout, Davis' corner urged him to go hard, believing it would be difficult to beat Machida, a Brazilian, by decision in Brazil.
But though Machida seemed to control the third round, it didn't matter. Davis won by scores of 29-28 on all three judges' cards and won a unanimous decision over the division's No. 1 contender.
Sal D'Amato and Rick Winter each gave Rounds 1 and 2 to Davis and Round 3 to Machida. Chris Watts gave Round 1 to Machida and Rounds 2 and 3 to Davis. Cagewriter had it 30-27 for Machida, giving him all three rounds.
Machida seemed shocked when the call went against him.
"I really don't know what they are judging," Machida said in the cage. "Just listen to the crowd. They're telling you what is happening."
UFC president Dana White was shocked, too.
Wow!!! I had Machida winning all 3 rds but that's what happens when u leave it up to the judges!
— Dana White (@danawhite) August 4, 2013
In a telephone interview with Cagewriter once the show ended, White said he was not pleased with the way Machida fought.
"Machida definitely won that fight, definitely," White told Yahoo! Sports. "But that's his fault. He knows MMA judging sucks. It's terrible, it's [expletive], but he went out there and let him do it. I can't remember whether it was the first or the second, but Machida had that combination where he threw all those punches and ran across the cage and ended with that knee. That's when he's really good. But he wants to stay back and be a counter puncher and wait and fight cautiously.
"He's got the abilities, but he just doesn't bring it. He loves the counter and he got taken down at the end of both rounds."
Davis took Machida down near the end of each of the first two rounds, but Machida seemed to control the pace of the fight and stuffed numerous takedowns. Fight Metric gave Machida a 17-16 edge in significant strikes landed.
Davis, who was ranked seventh by the UFC prior to the fight, was ecstatic.
"The late takedowns help, but that's part of my strategy," Davis said. "I get takedowns and work all the time. It's part of what I do."
Machida said he had an injured foot that hampered him a bit, but he couldn't imagine how he lost.
"I believe Phil was not looking to attack, was not going forward and was trying to score points at the end of rounds," Machida said. "But this is not a wrestling match, this is MMA, and I think that the judges need to be more attentive to details. They need to look for who is going forward the most. By the end of the fight he was hurt and bleeding, I managed to land several strikes. I had strained my foot 10 days ago and I felt it a little bit at some point, but other than that I wasn't thrown by his game plan at all."