One of the fights fans were looking forward to seeing most on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 7 was a bantamweight fight between Cody Stamann and Song Yadong. While the fight featured a solid game plan from Stamann against a 2-1 favored opponent in the dangerous Yadong, it was mired in controversy following the reading of the judges score cards.
Stamann, along with many members of the MMA community, believed he had done enough to get the nod against Yadong. However, one judge scored it for Stamann, while the others scored it an even 28-28 to lead to a majority draw — the first of two draws on the night.
On Monday, Stamann’s manager Jason House sent out a Tweet that laid out the lack of experience amongst two of the judges who scored the bout.
Being told that the 2 judges, Steve Rados & Dave Braslow, that scored Stamann’s fight 28-28, have never judged a UFC event before, & are boxing judges. Looks like Braslow judged 1 MMA event regionally in 2014. @arielhelwani @MMAjunkieJohn @MikeBohnMMA @marc_raimondi @DamonMartin
— Jason House (@IridiumSports) December 9, 2019
“Being told that the 2 judges, Steve Rados & Dave Braslow, that scored Stamann’s fight 28-28, have never judged a UFC event before, & are boxing judges. Looks like Braslow judged 1 MMA event regionally in 2014,” read the Tweet.
In the first round, Yadong landed an illegal knee to a grounded Stamann which lead to a point deduction and, in the eyes of most, a Stamann-won round. The second round was a bit closer, while the third round was all Stamann. The decision left a lot of people confused, including the 30-year-old Michigan native who is hoping to get the decision overturned to a win.
“Yes, we are appealing [the decision],” Cody Stamann told BJPENN.com.
“I’ve watched it several times now and I don’t even see how you could’ve given him one round, honestly. I felt like I won every round because there wasn’t anything significant that happened on the feet: he’d hit me, I’d hit him. He’d march me down, I’d march him down and take him down. The best thing he did in that whole entire fight was hold me in a couple of spots where he was holding onto a choke and threatening. We were kind of at a standstill, he got a reversal towards the end of the second.
“For the most part, I dominated a guy that I was a 2-1 underdog against, again. Another guy that’s up and coming, that was supposed to kick my ass, we go out there and I put my hands on him, s**t doesn’t go the way he wanted it to and I win. It’s sad that the judges and the decision have overshadowed the fact that I went out and beat a guy that no one has been able to touch in the UFC. This guy has starched everyone. I completely shut this guy down and all everyone is talking about is the decision. I think the focus needs to be that I’m a bad motherf****r.”
Most fighters are not going to go out and say, “after going back and watching fight, I didn’t deserve to win”, regardless of what happens in the future viewings. Following multiple times watching the fight with Yadong back, Stamann believes he could’ve done more, but also believes his performance was even more dominant than he anticipated.
To add to that, the thousands of messages he received from fans and supporters only added additional fuel to that fiery victorious feeling.
“I look at things subjectively. I felt like I could’ve done a lot more,” Stamann said. “I could’ve made that gap a lot bigger, but I fought very, very smart. I didn’t get hit by any big right hands, or any big shots period. I did my job and I did it well. What else can I say? There’s always more to do, there’s always finding a better version of myself. But there was no question after I watched it that I won. I’ll never in my life go back and say, ‘I think he won Round 2, or I think he won Round 1.’ I won every round. It’s a fact and I think the 3,000 messages I’ve gotten of people saying that was the worst s**t they’ve ever seen makes it overwhelming. It’s 1,000 people saying they’re so sorry for what’s happening, and one person saying, ‘I’ll choke you out, you’re a p***y.’ That’s what’s happening on Twitter right now.
“I guess I have to use this to my advantage. I’m healthy and I’ll get back in there, super early in 2020.”
Stamann will appeal the decision, but from a mental perspective, he’s already moving on to what is next. With eyes on a return as soon as possible in 2020, “The Spartan” does not plan on letting the judges have any say on how the winner is decided.
As frustrating as the situation has been, Stamann is ready to create some highlight reels moving forward.
“It’s more frustrating to win a fight and not get the credit,” Stamann explained. “I am frustrated and I’ll be frustrated about this until the day I die. I’ve been in spots like this before. I’ve been in spots where I’ve won all three rounds and still lost the fight. That stung a lot worse than this. I’ll get over this. It’s gonna get me better as an athlete and this will all be irrelevant in a few months because I’m gonna go starch another dude. I’m pissed!
“It’s the age old saying to not leave it in the hands of the judges and I had every tool to finish Song Yadong. I think I bought into the hype of how hard he hit and the kid does hit hard. He would hit me in the shoulder and you could just tell… he’s the hardest hitting guy I’ve ever seen at 135 pounds, that I’ve shared the cage with. The kid has special power. I knew that going into this fight and I knew I had to fight him a certain way. I went out and did what I had to do to win this fight, and I’m proud of myself. Moving forward, I’m gonna knock the f**k out of the next guy that I fight. I promise you, I’ll bet my entire fight purse, my house, I’ll bet everything that I own on that. I’m gonna kill somebody in 2020 and people will talk about that.”
Following the fight, Stamann said he spoke with UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby and, while he didn’t outright say the words, the UFC brass seems to side with the majority. So much so that Stamann believes he and his management team will have a bit more sway in who will be standing across the Octagon from him next.
“I talked to Shelby and I think he told me the best thing he could’ve told me,” Stamann said. “He told me, ‘I know you could’ve done more.’ Nobody could give me a definitive answer about how it would shake out but I think everyone knows that I won and now I’m in the driver’s seat to be able to choose my next fight. I think people in the MMA community, they need to understand this isn’t the UFC’s fault. This isn’t Dana White’s fault, this isn’t Sean Shelby’s fault. This has nothing to do with them. This is judges that made a bad call. They know what I’m capable of and for me to kind of have a s****y performance and not pull the trigger as much, I guess I need to get back on the wagon and go kill somebody.”
In terms of what will be next, the options are aplenty in a loaded bantamweight division. Of course, there’s the looming question about who will ultimately face Cory Sandhagen at UFC Raleigh next month now that Frankie Edgar is fighting Chan Sung Jung in the main event of next weekend’s UFC Busan event.
A name that has been tied to Stamann for quite some time is Rob Font, who defeated Ricky Simon via unanimous decision on Saturday night. The two were set to fight at June’s UFC Greenville event before Stamann was forced to withdraw with an injury.
Stamann would take a fight with Font if he needed to, but let’s just say Font isn’t anywhere near the top of his list.
“My manager and I are gonna meet this week,” Cody Stamann said. “Font, still kind of in the same place. Yeah, I’ll fight Rob Font but I wasn’t impressed with what he did on Saturday night. I thought he was exactly the same guy that I’ve seen him be, and I honestly fought a much tougher guy than he did. I fought a guy who can turn the lights off with one shot. Font’s not that guy. He can pick guys apart from range but I won’t be there for him to hit me. He’s irrelevant and there are bigger fish to fry.”
Yadong remains unblemished in his five-fight UFC run, which includes finishes of Bharat Khandare, Felipe Arantes and Alejandro Perez. Stamann would love to share the cage once more with the 22-year-old Chinese phenom — just not right away.
“Not now,” Stamann said. “Look, Song Yadong is tough. The kid can scrap. I’m gonna see him again because we’re both gonna do well and we’re both gonna end up at the top. He’s 22, I’m 30. That’s a young killer. He’ll be around long after I’m done. I’ll definitely see him again but there’s no need for an immediate rematch. Let him go knock a couple of dudes out, let me go knock a couple of dudes out and then maybe a few years down the road, I’ll see him again.
“He’s a good kid, he’s got a bright future, but I have no interest in an immediate rematch. There’s 20 good guys I could fight at bantamweight. Why run it right back with him?”
Judging in MMA needs a lot of work and the complexities surrounding it are not something that can be fixed right away. Stamann feels he was wronged on Saturday night and it’s not the first time it has happened in his career.
While there isn’t much anybody can do with the current structure in the MMA judging system, Stamann hopes that the people involved with making the all-important calls can take a long look in the mirror — and hopefully many hours of UFC Fight Pass — to better prepare them for making these consequential decisions.
“When you go to some of these different places, like, how many fights to they really judge,” Stamann asked. “When we’re talking about guys in the UFC — guys like me — you’ve got some guy that’s literally judged 50 fights, 20 fights, 30 fights, not enough fights to be judging fights at this level. That’s not anyone’s fault but the individual athletic commissions. They just don’t have the people there that have the experience to judge an actual MMA fight. They don’t even know what the hell they are watching. They have a very skewed and amateur perspective of what MMA is. They’re looking at it from a PG-13 filter but this is an X-rated film. They don’t know what the hell is going on.
“But how do you change that? There’s not gonna be MMA experts in every state that want to be judges. It’s a really, really complicated problem with no real easy solution. I guess fight more in Las Vegas, fight more in places that you’ll have better judging and more experienced people. I’m sure the UFC has thought about this a million times, asking who the hell are judging these fights? This is making us look bad. It’s not the UFC’s fault. They pick the venues somewhere and the commission is the governing body. They don’t have control over who they use. There’s no easy solution.”
Do you think the majority draw should be overturned to a win for Cody Stamann?