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Michael Johnson on UFC Fight Night 73 controversy: ‘Everybody knows I won that fight’

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Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Johnson's run to contendership hit a snag at UFC Fight Night 73, but not without some controversy. Cries of a robbery bombarded social media Saturday night after two judges inexplicably scored Johnson's co-main event match for his opponent, Beneil Dariush, giving Dariush a split decision that seemed to surprise even the winning side.

And Johnson wasn't happy about it.

"I definitely think I deserve a big fight after this. Everybody knows I won that fight," Johnson said at UFC Fight Night 73's post-fight press conference.

Judges Richard Bertrand and Douglas Crosby were the swing votes, each awarding Dariush the second and third rounds on matching 29-28 Dairiush scorecards. Veteran judge Sal D'Amato was the lone dissenter, awarding Johnson the first and second.

The fight itself was back-and-forth, and though Dariush came on strong in the third, Johnson largely set the pace of the contest. He knocked down Dariush in the opening round, outstruck him by a margin of 35-22 in the second, and rebuffed all seven of Dariush's takedown attempts throughout, forcing the decorated grappler to fight on the feet.

Johnson ended up claiming a 85-75 edge in total strikes landed, according to FightMetric. But it wasn't enough to secure the win.

"I definitely thought I pushed the pace a lot more the whole fight," Johnson said. "I stuffed every one of his takedowns and I think I landed more, so I don't see how they could've given him the win. Not taking anything away from Beneil, he fought a very good fight, but at the same time I controlled the whole fight. It is what it is. That's why you don't leave anything to the judges.

"It's a little frustrating, and I apologize for the way I reacted, but you know how it is," Johnson continued. "I set out to get in there and get a job well done, get my goal of getting up to a title shot, and this kind of stops that. So I've just gotta get back in there."

The loss snapped an otherwise scorching run of four straight wins that had propelled Johnson into title contention. Johnson entered the contest with a No. 5 ranking among active UFC lightweights, and was effectively in a no-win situation having to defend his placement against the No. 12 ranked Dariush.

Countless fighters expressed outrage over the decision after it was read, as did UFC President Dana White. A furious White called the split scorecards "horrible," yet even if the result stands -- and it almost assuredly will -- Johnson hopes the controversy won't take away from the momentum he's built with a string of destructive performances over the last two years.

"It is what it is, like I said, but at the same time, I'm at the top of this division," Johnson said. "Everybody knows the way I fight, and I'm going to compete and challenge anybody I step in there with. So hopefully something good comes from this. If not, I'm still in the gym working, and I've just gotta keep going. But as far as a step back, this absolutely is, because it is a loss on my record. So I've just got to redeem myself."