It's no secret, fighters are often the worst judges of their own efforts when it comes to who won or lost a bout on the scorecards. The memory of Forrest Griffin running out of the cage, eager to rid himself of a loss to Tito Ortiz, only to find out he'd actually won the fight, still stands as a great reminder that being there isn't necessarily the best metric for judging.
That seems to be the problem Corey Anderson is grappling with after UFC 198, when he was pretty well resigned to the fact that he lost his fight with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Anderson pressed the majority of the action in each and every round of the fight, but got dropped twice in the first two rounds and never quite managed to create his own fight changing offense against Shogun. Here's what he told MMA Junkie Radio about his thoughts as the scores were being read:
"I mean, in the cage, when it happened, I was talking to (UFC ring announcer) Bruce (Buffer)," Anderson told MMAjunkie Radio. "I said, ‘Tell me, Bruce. Tell me now before you say it on TV, I didn't get it, did I?' I knew I didn't do enough in Brazil to get it in the judges' eyes. He said, ‘I can't say anything.' My coach was saying, ‘What are you talking about? You did. You pulled it out; you won that fight.' I was like, ‘Coach, we're in Brazil. We didn't win that fight. I'm not putting my hands up.' ... I just knew, in my mind, they weren't going to give it to me. Not in Brazil."
And, as expected, they didn't, with Shogun pulling out a split decision victory. Perhaps because he's so firmly a member of the old guard, or perhaps because he did so much better than expected, the backlash to those scores wasn't as extreme as it might have been. Still, most people had it scored 29-28 Anderson. And after going back and watching the fight himself, Anderson seems a lot less at peace with the result:
"I wasn't upset," Anderson said. "We got in the locker room and my coach was furious and kept bringing it up. I was like, ‘Man, I got my health and I'm healthy enough to get back in the gym. We go back to the drawing board. I did my best and we came up short. It's not that big of a deal to be upset about.' I grabbed my phone and started seeing all the stuff people put on social media. I read through it for about 30 minutes and that's when it started getting to me. I got back to the hotel and took it on my own to find an illegal copy of my fight and I watched it. That's the point where I was hurt and felt like I really got robbed."
The loss snapped a 3 fight win streak for the 26-year-old, only his second career loss (and only since getting TKO'd by Gian Villante last year). As one of the few young faces in the light heavyweight division, Anderson seems to be running into some of the same problems that so many prospects at 205 have encountered. Most notably, he's having to do all his career development on the big stage against seasoned, crafty veteran fighters. That's a tough place to be, especially for a fighter not known for his finishing power.