Company president Dana White always warns his fighters to never leave the outcome of a fight in the unpredictable hands of the judges. And the co-main at UFC Fight Night 73 is the reason that expression exists.
In the biggest upset of the evening, No. 12-ranked Beneil Dariush earned a puzzling split decision victory over Michael Johnson earlier tonight (Sat., Aug. 8, 2015) inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Two judges scored it 29-28 for Dariush, and the other had it 29-28 in favor of Johnson.
Johnson, 29, didn't outclass Dariush by any means, but it appeared he was just too quick and explosive for the Kings MMA-trained fighter.
The first round started off even with both fighters finding their range and Johnson sprawling on a takedown attempt from Dariush. With about a minute left, Johnson connected on a counter left hand that dropped Dariush. The Assyrian fighter bounced back up, but ate a few more good ones from "The Menace" before the round ended.
Johnson continued to find his range and rhythm -- and a home for his left hand -- in the second, and got the better of the exchanges while continuing to sprawl successfully on Dariush's takedown attempts.
Dariush, 26, had his best round in the third round. having some success with his jab and landing a jumping knee, but Johnson never allowed him to seize control of the fight and continued to dictate the pace and the terms of the bout until it ended.
However, as evidenced by the judges decision, his performance was not enough to convince all three of them.
It's a huge win for Dariush, who improves to 12-1 and has now won five in a row. A hugely disappointing loss for Johnson, but he shouldn't lose much stock in the division and may even be awarded his win bonus from the promotion, which will assuredly address the controversial decision at the post-fight press conference. Johnson falls to 16-9 overall.
For complete UFC Fight Night 73: "Teixeira vs. Saint Preux" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.