Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges. It’s a phrase that’s been repeated so often as to become cliche in the MMA world. In a sport with few rules and many, many options for generating offense, traditional scoring methods have a way of feeling even more subjective than they do in other combat sports. Even what seem to be clear decision wins have a way of getting confused and becoming split decision losses.
The latest point of controversy to darken the UFC’s Octagon came last Saturday, October 22nd in Abu Dhabi, when top-ranked bantamweight contender Petr Yan took on rising star Sean O’Malley. Both men traded serious blows over three close rounds, with many feeling that Petr Yan’s wrestling and control were enough to sway the cards in his favor. Only, when the scores were read, judges didn’t see it that way. Sean O’Malley walked out with the biggest win of his career to date, and the Russian was left with yet another controversial disappointment.
After the bout, Yan took to Twitter to air his frustrations with officials, the message couldn’t have been more simple: “F-ck the judges.” It turns out, however, that Yan’s displeasure may run deeper than a single social media outburst. In a recent episode of his DC & RC show for ESPN, former UFC champion and current commentary member Daniel Cormier revealed some inside info that he’s been privy to.
“A little ‘inside baseball’,” Cormier said, prefacing the rumor he’d heard. “Petr Yan is so disappointed in this decision—Petr Yan is so disappointed in the decision against Aljo, that I’m hearing word that this guy may want to look at something different down the line in terms of his career. Because he just does not feel like, maybe, the organization doesn’t have his back. It’s crazy.”
Well, I found the source of the rumor and I have to say... these MMA Instagram pages sure do quite a great job of masking their posts to make themselves look really credible by sourcing, in this case, ESPN. Technically they're not wrong, but it's fucking annoying. It was DC. https://t.co/Uz4ACXmpuI pic.twitter.com/G22f8fYGEg— Drake Riggs (@DrakeRiggs_) October 26, 2022
How exactly Yan might go about exiting the UFC remains to be seen. Back in January, following his decision win over Cory Sandhagen to capture the interim bantamweight title, Yan revealed that he had just signed a new six-fight contract extension with the world’s largest MMA organization. Since making that deal, Yan has competed twice, losing his title unification bid against Aljamain Sterling before this latest setback against O’Malley.
That’s not to say the UFC absolutely wouldn’t let Yan go, they’ve come to deals before with the likes of Kyoji Horiguchi, Nikita Krylov, and their infamous trade of Demetrious Johnson for Ben Askren. But it seems like a long shot that the Endeavor-owned company would be all that willing to part with a talent of Yan’s caliber in the prime of his career.