Rory MacDonald was confident he had done enough to defeat Gleison Tibau after a three-round fight at 2021 PFL 5 on Thursday night. That confidence was shattered after MacDonald heard the first judges’ scorecard read.
MacDonald controlled the fight with his technical striking and kept Tibau from doing significant damage over the course of 15 minutes. Tibau was game though, and tried his best to get a finish — something he needed to clinch a spot in the playoffs — but it appeared as though it would not be enough as the fight went to the judges.
Prior to the scorecards being read, PFL color commentator Sean O’Connell revealed how everyone scored the fight. Him and fellow color commentators Randy Couture and Kenny Florian saw it for MacDonald. The fan vote saw it for MacDonald. The Fighter Performance Rating saw it for MacDonald.
The judges, however, did not see it for MacDonald. The fight was declared a split decision win for Tibau, which visibly and audibly shocked just about everyone in the Ocean Casino Resort. MacDonald left the cage in complete disbelief and shared his thoughts about the decision during the 2021 PFL 5 post-fight press conference.
“I’m very disappointed,” said MacDonald (video via MMA Junkie). “I believe and everyone I talked to, everybody online scored the fight for me, even three rounds to zero. So, I think it was a clear robbery. I thought I was dominant in this fight. It was a hard fight. Gleison brought it and respect to him, but I believe I clearly won that fight and I think this should be looked into.”
MacDonald went on to say that he was under the impression that the fight was his to win considering how well he did, so it came as quite a shock to see it end in a split decision.
“I was totally sure [I won],” said MacDonald. “I was so surprised when the first judge they announced scored it for him. I was shocked, but when I heard the split decision that he got I was just blown away. I mean, what do you say? I just didn’t see it that way at all.”
The split decision stirred up a lot of controversy and forced people to revisit the conversation surrounding bad judging in mixed martial arts. It obviously plays a huge role in the livelihood of fighters, especially when a good portion of their paycheck is on the line.
MacDonald believes fighters should not have to worry about bad judging when they fight, but acknowledges that it is something that seriously needs to be worked on.
“We shouldn’t have to as fighters, as competitors,” said MacDonald. “We should be able to fight and rest easy knowing that we have competent, fair [and] truthful judging in our sport. It shouldn’t be something we have to worry about and stick our necks out on the line and our health to do something stupid. It’s just crazy.
“We don’t have this in any other major sporting event,” MacDonald continued. “It just seems like over and over and over again we’re getting this in our sport and it’s just a real shame.”
Also on last night’s card Ray Cooper III scored a non-controversial unanimous decision win over Nikolay Aleksakhin. Also in the welterweight bracket, Joao Zeferino beat Jason Ponet with an arm triangle and Magomed Magomedkerimov beat Curtis Millender with the rare ezekiel choke. Sadibou Sy also got a unanimous decision with over Alexy Kunchenko.
Those results settled the play-off picture for the season, with Zeferenio, MacDonald, Cooper and Magomedkerimov progressing on points.
MacDonald will now meet Cooper in the play-offs. Zeferino will face Magomedkerimov.
Last night’s light heavyweight action was punctuated with some weirdness. UFC vets Carlos Antonio Junior and Vinny Magalhaes fought to a no contest after a groin shot rendered Magalhaes unable to continue in the first round.
The other light heavyweight bouts resulted in a draw between Emiliano Sordi and Dan Spohn, a unanimous decision win for Chris Camozzi over Cezar Ferreira and wins for Tom Lawlor (over Jordan Young) and Cory Hendricks (over Marthin Hamlet).
Those results settled things in the light heavyweight play-off picture with Carlos Junior, Ferreira, Hamlet and Sordi all advancing. Carlos Junior vs. Ferreira and Hamlet vs. Sordi are your match-ups there.
Welterweight: Gleison Tibau def. Rory MacDonald via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Welterweight: Ray Cooper III def. Nikolay Aleksakhin via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Light heavyweight: Emiliano Sordi vs. Dan Spohn ends in a draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Light heavyweight: Chris Camozzi def. Cezar Ferreira via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Light heavyweight: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Vinny Magalhaes ends in No Contest (groin strike) at 2:45 of R1
Light heavyweight: Cory Hendricks def. Marthin Hamlet via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:09 of R3
Welterweight: Joao Zeferino def. Jason Ponet via submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:16 of R2
Welterweight: Magomed Magomedkerimov def. Curtis Millender via submission (ezekiel choke) at 1:57 of R1
Light heavyweight: Tom Lawlor def. Jordan Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Welterweight: Sadibou Sy def. Alexey Kunchenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
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