ByThe Naked Gambler, writer at
MMA hierophant. Follow me on Twitter at @NakedGambling for mostly nonsense with some analysis mixed in.
The Naked Gambler

Few results elicit as much controversy as a draw.

To declare two fighters evenly matched after fifteen or twenty-five minutes of action can leave viewers without a sense of resolution. In a sport where rounds have almost exclusively been scored 10-9 in the past, MMA’s odd number of rounds ensures that a score of 10-10 or 10-8 is necessary for a draw to be declared.

As judges have begun to more accurately appraise significant offense, eight-point scores have seen a sharp increase in usage, with many fans left perplexed, either unfamiliar with the criteria or unaccustomed to the more generous application of non-9 scores.

As unpopular as draws often are, sometimes they feel like the only deserved outcome. Here are a few examples appropriate draws in recent years.

UFC 205 - Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson

The first of two entries on this list in which the scores were originally read incorrectly, the majority draw that decided the fate of the UFC's welterweight championship was a controversial one. Regardless, with one 10-9 round for and another clearly warranting a 10-8, 's three rounds of activity were enough to rally and secure a deserved draw, but not a win.

A rematch seems to be in both men's immediate futures, as publicly supported the idea.

UFC on FX 2 - Ian McCall vs. Demetrious Johnson

A draw controversial not for its score, but for the circumstances under which it occurred, the semifinal of the UFC's inaugural flyweight tournament was one of the biggest disasters in promotional history.

With a title shot on the line, the rules explicitly stated that in the event of a draw, a fourth, and deciding, round would take place in order to name a conclusive winner. And due to an incorrect tallying of the scorecards, was erroneously announced the winner before the mistake was realized, all too late.

In a vacuum, a draw felt like the correct decision, and there were multiple ways to come to such a scorecard. The first round was razor thin, while the second was a clear, but not dominant Johnson round, and the third was dominant for McCall, who drubbed Johnson from back mount as the round came to a close. Judge Anthony Dimitriou scored the first round 10-10, while Sal D'Amato scored the third 10-8 McCall.

Johnson and rematched three months later, with "Mighty Mouse" going on to win the second bout. Johnson went on to win the flyweight title, and has defended the belt eight times since. McCall's career never quite rebounded; he has a 2-3-1 career mark inside the and has never fought for the title.

UFC 127 - Jon Fitch vs. B.J. Penn

When was the undisputed second-best at welterweight and a top pound-for-pound fighter, many expected him to run through . "The Prodigy" had other ideas, and surprised Fitch by immediately taking down the man known for his takedown-heavy grinding attack, controlling him throughout the first round.

After a close second round which was eventually awarded to Penn, Fitch retaliated, dragging the former two-division champion to the ground and mauling him with an incredible volume of strikes from top position.

A clear 10-8 round for Fitch failed to earn him a win, but did result in a draw. Both men's careers experienced declines soon after, with Fitch losing by knockout to in his next bout, before a loss to saw him cut from the UFC, while Penn has remained winless since, dropping his last three contest.

UFC Fight Night 33 - Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva

One of the greatest fights in the history of the heavyweight division, and beat and bloodied each other for five rounds in a monumental battle of will and endurance. Multiple rounds were arguable 10-8s, with "Bigfoot" mounting Hunt and raining down strikes in the fourth, before barely hanging on and surviving a tremendous Hunt rally in the fifth.

Dana White referred to the fight as one of the few in which a draw was deserved, and this is a sentiment shared by many who witnessed it. Their do-over at provided closure, as Hunt stopped Silva with strikes in the very first round.

UFC 125 - Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard

Perhaps no performance in MMA's history embodies will and perseverance as much as the one put forth by former UFC lightweight champion at UFC 125. Having lost to once before, many picked the much larger and stronger wrestler to claim the lightweight belt from Edgar.

Few predicted how the fight would turn out.

From the opening minutes, Edgar was bloodied and staggered, desperately hanging on to consciousness as Maynard rocked him with right hooks and uppercuts, chasing him across the Octagon and almost finishing him on several occasions in the first round. Arguably a 10-7 round, at least a 10-8 was justified, and the remaining rounds were remarkably competitive considering the damage Edgar had endured.

With the champion likely winning the second, fourth and fifth rounds, a 10-8 in the first left these two evenly matched. Their rematch at UFC 136 saw Maynard again stagger Edgar in round one, before Edgar would eventually knock Maynard unconscious in the fourth round, putting a decisive end to their rivalry.

Notable UFC Draws

  • Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson - UFC 205, Majority Draw (48–47, 47–47, 47–47)
  • Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva - UFC Fight Night 33, Majority Draw (48–47, 47–47, 47–47)
  • Demetrius Johnson vs. Ian McCall - UFC on FX 2, Majority Draw (29–28, 29–29, 28–28)
  • B.J. Penn vs. John Fitch - UFC 127, Majority Draw (28–29, 28–28, 28–28)
  • Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard - UFC 125, Split Draw (46–48, 48–46, 47–47)
  • Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz - UFC 73, Unanimous Draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
  • B.J. Penn vs. Caol Uno - UFC 41, Split Draw (48–46, 47–48, 48–48)
  • Levan Makashvili vs. Damon Jackson - UFC on FOX 18, Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
  • Michael Graves vs. Bojan Veličković - , Draw (majority) (30-27, 28-28, 28-28)


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