The final of the UFC’s Japanese version of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which goes by the moniker “Road to UFC,” took place as part of UFC Fight Night 75: Barnett vs. Nelson on Saturday night, but left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth when it ended in a split draw.
That’s not something that happens under the rules of The Ultimate Fighter, and it’s something that shouldn’t have happened under the rules of Road to UFC. When the final of either tournament-based reality series ends in a draw, there is supposed to be an additional sudden-victory round to declare a definitive victor.
Teruto Ishihara sent Mizuto Hirota to the canvas twice in the Road to UFC final, but Hirota fought his way back into the fight to where one judge scored the fight 29-28 for Hirota. Another judge had it 29-28 for Ishihara. The third and final judge scored the bout 29-29, which equals a split draw.
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When that happened, as UFC president Dana White later tweeted, Ishihara and Hirota should have fought one more round to declare a winner.
So what happened?
According to UFC Vice President of International Business Development Joe Carr, they just got caught up in the surprise of the decision and made a mistake for which he accepted responsibility.
“That should have been treated like a TUF Finale. There should have been a fourth round, sudden victory,” he said at the post-fight press conference. “I think we were kind of surprised by the decision and announced that prematurely, so that’s on me.”
Although no one is ever satisfied with a draw, Ishihara and Mizuto have little else to complain about. They are both going to continue fighting for the UFC, as the promotion deemed it appropriate to award each a UFC contract, the prize for winning the Road to UFC final.
“The good news is both of these guys fought their hearts out and both deserve to be in the UFC,” said Carr. “So they’re both getting UFC contracts, they’re both getting their win bonuses, and they’re both being treated as winners of the show.”
As you can imagine, neither fighter was distraught by the UFC’s resolution, and we’ll be seeing both men in the Octagon again in the near future.