Instead, he’ll enter the PFL playoffs coming off a highly controversial split decision loss after falling to Gleison Tibau in a three-round fight that seemed like a guaranteed victory until the judges’ scorecards were announced.
“I’m very disappointed,” MacDonald said at the PFL 5 post-fight press conference. “I believe and everyone I talked to, everyone online, scored the fight for me, even three rounds to zero. I think it was a clear robbery. I thought I was dominant in this fight.
“It was a hard fight. Gleison brought it and respect to him, but I believe that I clearly won that fight. I think this should be looked into.”
Over the course of three rounds, MacDonald was constantly sticking his jab in Tibau’s face, using a considerable reach advantage to help him score with striking combinations. While Tibau refused to go away and he continued to swing with big power behind his punches, he was taking far more shots than he was delivering during the course of the fight.
When the decision was read, MacDonald was visibly dejected by the scorecards. He carried that same demeanor into the press conference, where he was understandably upset with the loss being added to his resume.
“I was totally sure [I won],” MacDonald said. “I was so surprised when the first judge they announced scored it for him. I was shocked. But when I heard the split decision that he got, I was blown away. I mean, what do you say? I didn’t see it that way at all.”
Controversial calls being handed down by judges in mixed martial arts is certainly nothing new but MacDonald appears to be the latest victim to the constant trend of puzzling scores, especially when breaking it down round-by-round.
The biggest difference on Thursday night came down to judges Cardo Urso and Dave Tirelli giving the first round to Tibau despite MacDonald landing the cleaner combinations, scoring numerous shots to the body, as well as nearly securing a rear-naked choke submission after MacDonald took his opponent’s back during a grappling exchange.
Only judge Eric Colon gave MacDonald the first round on his scorecard, and ultimately Colon was the only one giving MacDonald the nod when the fight was over.
Despite the result in this particular matchup, MacDonald will still move forward into the PFL playoffs. But that doesn’t negate his opinion on the poor judging that cost him a second consecutive win in 2021.
“We shouldn’t have to [worry] as fighters, as competitors,” MacDonald said about the scoring in his fight. “We should be able to fight and rest easy that we have competent, fair, truthful judging in our sport. It shouldn’t be something that we have to worry about and stick our necks out on the line and our health to do something stupid. It’s just crazy.
“We don’t have this in any other major sporting event. It just seems like over and over and over again we’re getting this in our sport and it’s just a real shame.”