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Elizeu Zaleski rips UFC 251 judges, hopes UFC does ‘something’ about his controversial loss

Elizeu Zaleski lost a decision to Muslim Salikhov in the preliminary portion of UFC 251.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

ABU DHABI — Add Elizeu Zaleski to the list of people unhappy with the judges following UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi.

“Capoeira” met Muslim Salikhov in a highly-anticipated battle of strikers Saturday night in the United Arab Emirates and scored the bout 30-26 in his favor. When the official scorecards were read by Bruce Buffer, however, Zaleski found out that David Lethaby was the only judge who gave him a 29-28 victory.

“What can I say? The judges’ decision unfortunately contradicts everything we showed in the fight,” Zaleski told MMA Fighting. “In my opinion, I won all three rounds. I almost knocked him out in the first round, so it could have been a 10-8. And I dropped him in the second, but I guess they had it the other way around.

“To see a judge give (Salikhov) a 30-27 after he basically did nothing while I was moving and attacking, I honestly don’t understand how that’s possible.”

Zaleski returned to the losing column four months after defeating Alexey Kunchenko in Brasilia, and says it’s “very frustrating and disappointing” to fly back home empty-handed.

UFC president Dana White agreed that UFC 251 featured some controversial decisions, including the championship rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway. Judge Clemens Werner was also cageside for the co-main event, scoring the title bout 48-47 for Volkanovski.

“Looks like we’ve got to tighten up our refs and judges here on ‘Fight Island,’” White said at the post-fight press conference.

Even though decisions almost never get overturned in the sport, “Capoeira” is hopeful that “something” can be done in his case.

“We’re waiting to see what if the UFC will do something because I’m very disappointed with the result, disappointed with the lack of professionalism of the judges,” Zaleski said. “But one thing I can say, I keep my head high. I won the fight, my team and I are the winners. The media speaks for themselves, everyone gave me the win. I’m just waiting for the UFC to do something.”

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