UFC Fight Night “Mendes vs. Lamas”
Saturday, April 4
Patriot Center | Fairfax, Virginia
Perhaps no fight this year better embodied the all-around bitterness of a controversial split decision than that between UFC lightweights Al Iaquinta and Jorge Masvidal. When judges make the wrong call, the loser feels cheated, the fans get outraged and, in this case, even the winner walks away angry.
Masvidal got off to a strong start by rocking Iaquinta multiple times in the first round, laying some heavy right hooks on the New Yorker’s temple before opening a cut on his face with a lovely flying knee. By the end of the period, Masvidal was on top of the downed Iaquinta, unloading with elbows and punches so heavy that they drew an “Oh!” from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who was seated cageside. It was by any standard Masvidal’s round, feasibly by a margin greater than 10-9.
Round two saw Iaquinta begin to climb back into the fight, though Masvidal continued to get the better of the striking exchanges with a stout jab and check hooks. Iaquinta never hit the deck like he did in the first, but he did absorb 44 head strikes while failing on four takedown attempts; Masvidal would pitch a shutout in that department, denying a total of nine takedowns.
Iaquinta’s best work came in the form of leg kicks, and that carried over to the final frame. The final five minutes of the fight were Iaquinta’s best, as he landed nearly as many significant strikes in the third as he had in the previous two rounds combined. It was the one round many online scorers gave to Iaquinta, and still he was outstruck by a margin of 34 to 26.
Thirteen out of 15 media outlets tracked on MMADecisions.com scored the contest in favor of Masvidal, with many giving “Gamebred” a clean sweep of 30-27 and one scoring it as wide as 30-26. The judges appointed by the state of Virginia -- who famously gave us the 2009 “Robbery of the Year” -- did not agree.
It seemed as if Masvidal saw the writing on the wall almost as soon as announcer Bruce Buffer began to speak. Judge Douglas Crosby scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Masvidal, but he was overruled by judges Dave Tirelli and Cardo Urso, both of whom scored the fight 29-28 Iaquinta, resulting in one of the year’s most debated verdicts. Masvidal simply laughed and dashed out of the cage, leaving Iaquinta to be interviewed amidst a shower of boos from fans at the Patriot Center.
“Are you guys booing me?” Iaquinta asked. “You better not boo me! I [expletive] fought my ass off! [Expletive] you! I fought my ass off tonight.”
Of course, what the fans were really booing was the judges’ decision, but Iaquinta’s outburst only served to exacerbate matters. The fans jeered even louder, causing Iaquinta to cut short his live post-fight interview without ever answering a question. It truly was a quintessential bad decision, one in which nobody walks away happy.
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