The scorecards might have labeled this a separate decision, but Rafael Dos Anjos left little doubt about the winner in his dominant win over Paul Felder in Las Vegas, but an dissenting judge was heavily criticized.
Dos Anjos, a former 155 pound champion, put on a vintage performance in the UFC Vegas 14 main event late Saturday by slightly bypassing the short-term fighter Felder, but it was not without controversy.
After 25 minutes of action in which Dos Anjos was absolutely dominant, it seemed little more than a formality when the scorecards were announced. Two judges rightly called the fight for the Brazilian 50-45, but the third, Chris Lee, who was involved in separate decisions that year, inexplicably awarded the fight to Felder with a score of 48-47.
While the scorecard suggests the fight was close, it certainly was not. Starting the fight just five days in advance to replace original headliner Islam Makhachev, Felder was second-best after the former lightweight champion who returned to the division he once ruled after an eight-fight welterweight stint .
And when the fight ended, there appeared to be only one man at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, including Felder, who believed the American had done enough to win the fight.
Judge Chris Lee, who scored the main event for Paul Felder, was involved in 10 UFC / Bellator split decisions in 2020 and was the dissenting judge in 7 cases.
– Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) November 15, 2020
Official: Rafael dos Anjos defeated Paul Felder via SD (47-48, 50-45 x 2). The judge who scored it 48-47 should not be judging another UFC fight for a very long time.
– Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 15, 2020
The judge who scored these 48-47 for Paul Felder was never to judge a fight again. It’s a cruel scorecard. # UFCVegas14
– Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) November 15, 2020
“I’m not too happy with my performance,” said Dos Anjos when assessing his win. “It was my first fight in the lightweight division. I think I have to make further adjustments.
“I think if Khabib really retires the division will remain wide open,” added Dos Anjos. “When you look at the competition, I just think of myself and Conor [McGregor]We are the only real champions in this division. All others are interim champions. I think if the division is open then me and Conor will have to fight. “
Dos Anjos and McGregor were supposed to meet before, but a foot injury decided the then master Dos Anjos from a slight title defense against the Irishman. Nate Diaz took the fight instead and the rest is history.
Respect to both men who made this fight and event this evening possible. Good fight! I’m definitely there.
– Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 15, 2020
McGregor, watching the program, noted it was a “good fight” and responded to Dos Anjos’ challenge to say that he was “safe” but “Dustin is first”.
Felder, meanwhile, admitted after the fight that he hadn’t been to the MMA gym for about four months, but accepted the fight after Makhachev’s retirement due to its high profile and also because it kept himself in pristine condition due to the current situation in training to participate in a triathlon.
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‘The Irish Dragon’ later confirmed that this would not be his last fight at the Octagon after suggesting that his time as an active competitor was coming to an end after losing to Dan Hooker in February.
“I’m not going anywhere right now,” Felder said afterwards. “I can tell you that I’m not done yet. I could lose my ranking a little, but what I’ve learned in this sport is none of that. What matters is getting out there, showing up, showing who you are inside, what determination you have. “