Nobody gave Taila Santos much of a chance to beat Valentina Shevchenko coming into UFC 275, which is why it’s so gut-wrenching for many fans to see her seemingly robbed of a winning performance in their women’s strawweight title fight.
Santos controlled Shevchenko through the majority of their five round title fight, taking her back multiple times, locking in a body triangle, and nearly submitting the dominant champ with a rear naked choke (watch the highlights here). None of that mattered in the end to the third and deciding judge in Kallang, Singapore.
Judges one and two had the fight split 48-47 between Santos and Shevchenko. The third judge, Clemens Werner, handed in a 49-46 scorecard for Valentina Shevchenko.
The outrage and confusion was widespread across MMA Twitter, with UFC fighters reacting just as strongly. Henry Cejudo uploaded a video of him watching the decision, and he captured our reaction when the 49-46 scorecard went Shevchenko’s way.
“What?” Cejudo whispered. “49-46. 49-46? 49-46? That’s crazy. That’s robbery, man. That’s not cool, man. Look, they’re booing. They’re booing.”
Take a look at some of the other fighters that chimed in on the dubious scorecard following Shevchenko’s split-decision win.
49-46 … damn did they send their cards in before the fight Damnnn . Good fight #UFC275
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) June 12, 2022
That was an absolute robbery. And everyone in the world knows it. Taila Santos is champ.
— Lando Vannata (@GroovyLando) June 12, 2022
Booooooooo!!! (The judges not the fighters, that fight was amazing)
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) June 12, 2022
As usual when we discuss judging and scoring, there are two sides to the argument. There are those that say the judges are finally following the Unified Rules of MMA scoring criteria as written and assessing fights on damage and not control. And then there are those that argue the first and main scoring criteria is effective striking / grappling, and these days it seems like effective grappling has been tossed in the trash.
Whichever way you see it, there’s no doubt Taila Santos gave Valentina Shevchenko the toughest fight of her championship run (which now sits at seven title defenses, a new record in women’s MMA). And if the scoring criteria was properly applied, then there’s still a lot of people — UFC fighters included — who are applying it wrong.
Take note, everyone: dominant positions and submission attempts aren’t going to win you a fight, unless you apply some violence along with it.