Barboza’s camp today told MMA Junkie that they plan on appealing the result in hopes it can be changed.
“It’s a question of principle,” Barboza’s manager, Alex Davis, told MMA Junkie. “There’s something called motivated reasoning, and as human beings, we are incapable of giving a fair evaluation of something we have an emotional attachment to. I understand that, and I’m really careful about what I say after fights until I watch them again, until I calm down and look at it. In this case, not only myself but it seems the whole world sees this in the same way I do.
“Now, I do not mean any disrespect for Paul Felder, who I love as a person and a fighter, or his camp. They’re great guys, but the truth is that the world saw Edson winning, and what really makes it obvious that something’s wrong is when you have the situation – and even Paul Felder’s camp agrees with this point – when you have one judge scoring it 30-27 for one fighter, and another judge scores it 30-27 for the other fighter, something is obviously wrong.”
Felder (17-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and Barboza (20-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC) met in the co-main event of Saturday’s UFC 242, which took place at The Arena and aired on pay-per-view.
MMA Junkie scored the fight 29-28 in Barboza’s favor, giving him rounds 1 and 2. Davis said he scored the fight the same, and he’s spoken with multiple other observers who agree with that assessment. However, the three judges assigned to score the bout came to very different conclusions, with Howie Booth as the only one to favor Barboza, giving him a 30-27 scores.
Maria Makhmutova saw the exact opposite, giving Felder the 30-27 clean sweep. Meanwhile, David Lethaby had it 29-28 Felder, giving him rounds 2 and 3, and earning “The Irish Dragon” a split-decision win.
Getting commissions to overturn a result is typically quite the difficult task. In Abu Dhabi, the UFC self-regulated the event due to the lack of an athletic commission in place to oversee the sport, which could make the appeal even more challenging, but Davis believes it’s a worthwhile effort, not only in terms of getting what he considers the proper result issued for this fight but also to open the door for future discussions, as well, and perhaps helping to build a system that is more open to reviewing scorecards.
“This really has a negative impact on Edson’s career,” Davis said. “That’s the big issue. Think about what happens to Edson’s career now when he takes a loss that he didn’t deserve. That turn is really, really dramatic.
“We need to make an effort to get better. We need to make an effort to change. We need to make an effort to discuss. We’re in a medium that does not discuss. All way do is trashtalk, and all we’re looking at is promoting. We’re not looking at evolving the structure of the sport.”
Davis said he will reach out to UFC officials this week and realizes that seeing scores overturned is not a common occurrence in the sport. Still, it’s not completely unheard of, and Davis has some experience with the process, previously seeing Fabio Maldonado’s 2016 loss to Fedor Emelianenko subsequently ruled a draw by the World MMA Association, though the Russian MMA Union refused to recognize the decision.
Still, Davis believes he’s acting not only in his client’s best efforts, but also that of the sport, and he hopes Barboza’s appeal will be met with an open mind.
“We will do this,” Davis said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s difficult or if it seems that we’re not going to get anywhere. We’re going to do it by a question of principle. It has to be done.”