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Michael Bisping explains why Sean O’Malley won at UFC 280: “That was a close fight”

Sean O’Malley won a controversial split-decision over Petr Yan at UFC280. And while Michael Bisping had Yan winning the fight, he understands why the judges scored the fight the way they did.

O’Malley won the first and third rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards. That shocked a lot of fans and fighters, some of whom gave Yan all three rounds. But Michael Bisping didn’t see it as that one sided.

“That was a close fight, a very, very close fight,” he said on his UFC280 post-fight show (via Sportskeeda). “I thought Sugar Sean won the first round because Yan is a slow starter… I do recall at the end of the fight that I thought Petr Yan won, but I don’t think it was a robbery.”

“It was a very close fight,” he reiterated. “The number one criteria in judging a fight is damage. I think if you looked at Yan, he had absorbed the most damage.”

Once again, it’s worth going back and looking at how fights are judged under the Unified Rules of MMA. As Bisping said, judges base each round off of damage. Only if the amount of damage dealt is relatively equal do they consider other factors like takedowns or control time.

In the past, fighters used to be able to win rounds based on takedowns and control time. But it’s not the case any more. Grappling only comes into play if a fighter follows it up with damage, either in the form of strikes or near-submissions. That’s in contrast to remarks from commentator Paul Felder during the fight that a takedown or top control near the end of a round could decide the fight.

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That’s not to imply O’Malley definitely won the fight based on a correct reading of the judging criteria. All 25 press members providing their own scores to MMADecisions.com called the fight for Petr Yan. Over 30 UFC fighters went on the record via Twitter to declare Yan the winner over O’Malley. Surely some of these people are knowledgeable about scoring criteria and took that into consideration.

Then again, when it comes to Sean O’Malley, are people letting their dislike for the unorthodox young star get in the way of their ability to impartially judge his fights? It’s something to consider.

Did Sean O’Malley win his fight against Petr Yan, given this understanding of the Unified Rules judging criteria? Or was Yan still robbed? Let us know what you think in the comments, PENN Nation!

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM