The scoring of UFC 204's rematch between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson has generated its fair share of discussion among the MMA community since the fight went down in Manchester, England earlier this month.
Bisping defeated Henderson via unanimous decision to retain his UFC middleweight title in the bout, sweeping all three judges' scorecards with a pair of 48-47s and one 49-46, and in the process avenging his memorable UFC 100 loss to Henderson.
Still, the subjective nature of MMA judging has led many within the fight game to question that result, including Henderson himself, who said he believed he won the contest after dropping Bisping twice and inflicting heavy damage in the opening two rounds.
Not surprisingly, Bisping sees things differently, and on Monday, the reigning UFC middleweight champion laid out the methodology to his own 49-46 scorecard.
"The first round, I was in control," Bisping explained on The MMA Hour. "And then, of course, he landed that good shot and got some great ground and pound, so that round was a 10-9 for ‘Hendo.' Anyone that says a 10-8 are absolutely ridiculous, because for a 10-8 you've got to beat the guy from pillar to post, for the entire five minutes. And he had a good 45 seconds in that round.
"Round two, I dominated, I picked him apart. He dropped me with a right hand but then that was it. I wasn't hurt and he didn't get any ground-and-pound off, so I'd say I still won that round. It was a 10-9. (Rounds) three, four, and five, they were all 10-9s for me as well. So really, there is no controversy. One judge scored it 49-46. I believe that judge was an American as well, so for anybody talking about ‘hometown fighter,' they are ridiculous. The fact of the matter is, ‘Hendo' is a tough son of a bitch, tough as old boots, but I won that fight. Very simple."
A majority of the discussion surrounding the bout revolved around rounds one, two, and five, with Bisping almost universally taking rounds three and four.
Round one was Henderson's best round, as he dropped Bisping with his feared right hand and split Bisping's face wide open with heavy ground and pound, opening the door for a potential 10-8 round in Henderson's favor. Similarly, Henderson dropped Bisping again in round two, but was unable to capitalize and otherwise spent most of the round eating light shots from Bisping. Round five was extremely close, with Bisping gaining the striking edge but Henderson landing a takedown.
But in the end, all three judges saw the fight for the Brit -- much to the displeasure of many within the MMA space.
"There's people out there saying ‘Hendo' was robbed and this and that, but ‘Hendo' has a lot of hardcore fans, and hardcore fans don't watch the fight impartially," Bisping said. "There are professional judges who are paid to judge fights, they scored it correctly. It wasn't a split decision. It was unanimous on all fronts. Listen, ‘Hendo' has been around a long time, he's a national treasure if you will, he has a lot of fans and they're (not) looking at the fight completely impartially. It's hard for them to be objective, just like some other people in the UFC like Chris Weidman, people like that. They don't look at it from a fair perspective.
"They want me to lose and they want ‘Hendo' to win, so it's impossible for them to give an honest, unbiased on the judging of the fight. So, yes, I won the fight. I got my revenge. It would've been nice to finish him, but I took his best shots and I came walking right back. I didn't take a backwards step in that fight. I stayed in his face, I pressured him, punched him, I kicked him, I beat him to the punch every time. Two shots. Two shots is all he landed. He can say what he wants after that fight, he was robbed and this and that, but the story of the fight is that he was backing up the whole time, getting picked apart, and he landed two good shots."
The win against Henderson marked the second time that Bisping has been on the receiving end of good news from the judges in 2016, as his UFC Fight Night 84 split decision victory over Anderson Silva was similarly polarizing. And Bisping admitted he was more than a little nervous while he waited to hear the official word from UFC announcer Bruce Buffer.
"There's always a little trepidation because you never know until they say, because listen, he had a couple of big moments and of course my face told a tale," Bisping said. "But like my boxing coach said, like (Jason) Parillo said, you don't win a 25-minute fight by winning two minutes of the fight. And that's essentially all he did.
"For the rest of the time, he was backing up. He was cowering almost. He almost turned his back on a couple of occasions when I had him hurt. So just to reiterate that, you don't win a 25-minute fight by winning two minutes of the action. So yes, I was confident, but until Buffer actually says ‘and still,' you never know."
If nothing else, the fight stood as a testament to the incredible staying power of Henderson, who at age 46 nearly had the chance to walk away from MMA as the reigning UFC middleweight champion.
Henderson made his retirement official in the aftermath of the bout, ending a legendary career that spanned almost two decades. But even though Bisping was pegged as the heavy favorite to defeat Henderson going in, Bisping admitted that the lead-up to the fight was filled with more anxiety than he expected due to the history the two share.
"This is a person who has knocked me out cold in the past, and that is a very, very real thing," Bisping said. "It's a very real psychological trauma to get through. You relive that. And the day of the fight, I'm in my room, I'm taking a nap, and all these negative thoughts, these inner demons that all fighters were running through my mind, and had been throughout the entire training camp.
"So, no, never for one minute did I underestimate this guy. As I said, this is a person who's truly capable of ending a fight with one punch. A lot of people don't have that, and I knew he still had the timing and things like that. Yes, he slowed down a little bit, for sure. You can't deny that. But that right hand is real, and going into that fight in my hometown, you want to be victorious. I don't want to lose my belt on the first shot, certainly against somebody that knocked me out before."
While Bisping may not have put together the sort of statement performance that he hoped for at UFC 204, the victory still closed out his stunning 2016 campaign on a positive note.
Over the course of the past 10 months, Bisping flipped the narrative to his career on its head, shifting from a fighter who could never win the big one to someone who will always be remembered as a legitimate UFC champion. And when he looks back, Bisping views his battle with Henderson as the crowning moment of his decorated MMA career.
"Winning the belt was fantastic, it really was. But to do it in Manchester, winning the belt again, defending the belt, I think that tops it. That was the highlight of my career," Bisping said.
"It was amazing. The crowd were absolutely exceptional. The fight happened at 5:30 a.m. and the energy that everybody in attendance showed was just amazing. The crowd was absolutely deafening, ... it was absolutely incredible. Thanks to everybody who showed so much energy. Thanks to Henderson, it was a great fight. Everybody enjoyed it and (it was) a legendary night for me."