Sakai Disputes Split Decision, Says Fence Grab Didn’t Alter Complexion of Win Over Ivanov

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Augusto Sakai is gaining momentum in the UFC’s heavyweight division, but his latest triumph didn’t come without controversy.

Sakai defeated Blagoy Ivanov via split decision in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 9 on Saturday night in Las Vegas. In a competitive bout, Sakai appeared to be aided by a fence grab that prevented him from being taken down in the Round 3. After an otherwise strong final 10 minutes from Sakai, judges Junichiro Kamijo and Ron McCarthy scored the fight 29-28 for the Brazilian, while Michael Bell submitted a 30-27 tally in favor of Ivanov.

Although a takedown at that juncture of the fight might have allowed Ivanov to sway the scorecards in his favor, Sakai claims the move was unintentional and didn’t alter the trajectory of the fight.

“It was something completely subconscious. It was involuntary, I didn’t really plan on it,” Sakai said through a translator at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “It’s something I would never do on purpose. It wouldn’t change the result of the fight. I won the fight.”

In fact, Sakai doesn’t believe the outcome should have been in doubt at all.

“I absolutely do not think it was a split decision. I clearly won two rounds, and I think it was a mistake by the judges,” Sakai said.

Even with a slight tinge of controversy, the former Bellator competitor is currently on a six-bout winning streak. Four of those are in UFC competition, tying him with Francis Ngannou for the longest active winning streak in the division. The 29-year-old hopes his efforts will earn him a Top 10 opponent in his next Octagon appearance.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for, to be ranked Top 10, and now I’m ready to move forward,” he said. “It was extremely hard training during this pandemic but I made the adjustments. I’m very dedicated and my will power is second to none. I knew I could get the job done.

“I’m not sure who I want to fight next, that’s not my job. I’m going to go home and rest but I will fight anybody in the Top 10.”

This article first appeared at Recent News on

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