The Most Controversial Fights in UFC History

MMA

The 2023 boxing spectacle between Tyson Fury and former UFC star Francis Ngannou went to the judges' decision after going the distance. The result went in favour of heavyweight champion Fury in a split decision from the ringside judges.

The fight, sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) was not a title fight. Had it been, the controversy over the result would have been through the roof. Ngannou in his first professional fight, put on a remarkable display and even sent Fury, who is undefeated in his career, to the canvas.

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But Fury, who was ring-rusty and second-best through large portions of the fight, got the victory. The result was a perfect example of a fine line in sport. For punters at the best betting sites, whose wagers rely on these results and for the fighters themselves, judging decisions can derail things.

Unless there is a clear decision in the ring by something like a submission or a knockout, then leaving things to the judges opens the door to some controversy. More often than not, such controversy is headline-making news.

Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill

Former Ultimate Fighter combatants, Michael Bisping and Matt Hamill went head-to-head at UFC 75. Bisping, who had won a UFC contract through Ultimate Fighter, was awarded the victory, but it was about as controversial of a result as you could ever get.

The fight had been dominated by Hamill, his far superior wrestling ability controlling much of the fight. Everyone watching believed the upset had happened at the end of the match, but the judges somehow thought otherwise.

Jon Jones vs Dominick Reyes

There is no arguing that Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. But he has had some close encounters throughout his career. In a Light Heavyweight title defence at UFC 247, Jones faced Dominick Reyes.

It was Reyes who dominated for most of the fight, avoiding getting into tangles and landing some powerful clean strikes. A desperate Jones tried to turn the bout around at the end, but it looked as if he had fallen short. The judges remarkably scored in favour of Jones, one of them bizarrely giving him all but one round.

Sean O'Malley vs Petr Yan

At UFC 280 the much-anticipated bout between Sean O’Malley and Petr Yan went down. The fight went the distance but it was one in which Yan showed plenty of control and looked to comfortably be picking up the rounds.

There was no hint of an upset anywhere, and Yan looked to have won each round. But the judges somehow came down on a victory for O’Malley, who himself even seemed as shocked by the result as everyone else watching did.

Paddy Pimblett vs Jaren Gordon

There was more controversy to follow at UFC 282 with judges giving a bout between Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett and Jared Gorden to the British fighter. Pimblett is a genuine rising star of the UFC, but his unbeaten run looked to have come to an end at UFC 282.

He wasn't allowed into the fight by Gordon, who showed superior grappling technique and landed the lion’s share of the strikes. The crowd at the PPV event was fully expecting Gordon’s hand to be raised at the end. It wasn’t and to rub salt in his wound, Pimblett was given a unanimous result.

Georges St. Pierre vs. Johnny Hendricks

As a celebration of the UFC’s 20th anniversary Georges St. Pierre vs. Johnny Hendricks was the headline bout at UFC 167. This was one of those fights which could easily have gone the way of the underdog Hendricks.

It was a tight duel all the way. But Hendricks, in the eyes of many, did enough to come up with a victory against the pound-for-pound best in the business. A desperate GSP put in a final flourish in the fifth round, which may have controversially swayed the entire fight.

Hendricks had been scored by FightMetric as the winner of the bout. His team, his fans and most neutrals agreed. But GSP managed to cling on to his title via split decision, which perhaps nicely sums up the adage of ‘To be the champ you have to beat the champ.’

The Most Talked About

We can’t let this article conclude without mention of the most talked about UFC bout for controversy which of course is Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Not a controversial result that was pretty clean-cut as Khabib Nurmagomedov took a victory in the fourth round. But this remains one of the most controversial post-fights in the UFC of all time.

After winning the fight, Khabib scrambled out of the cage and attacked Dillon Danis, a teammate of McGregor. But that was not the end of the drama, however, as McGregor himself was then jumped by a couple of Khabib’s training partners.

It is without question the most bizarre conclusion ever to a UFC fight.

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