If you thought Quinton Jackson was surprised to get the judges' nod at UFC 123 over Lyoto Machida, you won't believe the reaction from Leonard Garcia.
When Bruce Buffer announced Garcia as a split decision winner over Nam Phan at "The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale," it seemed like the only two people in the building who agreed were the two judges. Even Garcia was amazed.
Garcia got the victory, 29-28, 29-28 and 27-30, in front of a shocked crowd at the Pearl inside the Palms in Las Vegas.
"All I can say is I scored some takedowns in this fight. I feel like Nam beat me standing up. I gotta say it was a great fight," Garcia screamed over the crowd chanting an expletive.
"Look, I'm saying it on national television, the next fight I'll come back to fight Nam. That's all I can say. I'm sorry Joe. I'm sorry. I called it the same thing,"
Cagewriter scored it 30-27 for Phan. Adalaide Byrd and Tony Weeks, both veteran judges, handed Garcia the 29-28 decision.
Update - FightMetric, one of the two major fight stat analysis companies, called it 30-27 for Phan. Phan outlanded Garcia 116-70. That includes the third round where Phan outpaced Garcia 38-22 in strikes.
Update II: At least Phan got paid. He and Garcia earned the Fight of the Night bonus good for $30,000 each.
Initially, UFC color analyst Joe Rogan tried to calm down the crowd, but even he got in on the act of ripping the decision.
During the next fight, Rogan called the scoring gross and said most of the judges used by the Nevada State Athletic Commission are incompetent. He called out Keith Kizer, the executive director of the NSAC.
The strange decision, made for a memorable televised debut of the featherweight division in the UFC. The promotion recently announced it would fold in the WEC's 145 and 135 pound divisions. Garcia, once a UFC fighter at 155, was making his return while Phan, a semifinalist from Season 12 of "The Ultimate Fighter," was making his debut.
The first round was the only competitive stanza, but Phan came on strongly in the final two minutes. The second round was clearly Phan's. He dropped Garcia (14-7, 2-2 UFC) with a flurry of shots and controlled him, even taking his back for two minutes. In the third, Garcia walked around the Octagon like an exhausted zombie, throwing wild shots with his mouth open. Phan fought at a measured pace and picked apart Garcia.
Phan (16-7, 0-1 UFC) was a unique fighter for the reality show. The Vietnamese-American fighter came in with an unusual amount of professional experience around the world, so it was no surprise to see him reach the semis. Tonight, it was no surprise again to see him outsmart the reckless UFC/WEC veteran. The surprise came when the judges botched the decision. With 2010 coming to a close, Byrd and Weeks, are in the running for worst decision of the year.
TUF 12 undercard results:
Dave Branch def. Rich Attonito via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Pablo Garza def. Fredson Paixao via knockout (knee) - Round 1, 0:51.
Nick Pace def. Will Campuzano via submission (Pace choke) - Round 3, 4:27.
Kyle Watson def. Sako Chivitchian via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Ian Loveland def. Tyler Toner via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-26).
Cody McKenzie def. Aaron Wilkinson via submission (guillotine choke) - Round 1, 2:03.