After a strong showing through the first two rounds, Gordon opted to press Pimblett against the cage, work from the clinch and look for takedowns rather than attempt to outstrike his opponent as he done for the biggest part of the fight.
It turns out Gordon was nursing a painful injured ankle that restricted his ability to move in the third round. So he decided to alter his approach during those final five minutes. That strategy led to UFC President Dana White to say Gordon had a “horrible game plan” and that he “threw the fight away” in the third round; Gordon ultimately lost a very controversial unanimous decision.
“I was upset, but you know what, that was one of the things that I regretted — not going for it a little more,” Gordon said of White’s comments in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I was winning on the feet, so I should have just stayed there, and maybe my ankle would have been all right moving around. But it started really stiffening up on me and hurting.
“I was like all right, I’ve got him against the cage, I’m winning here, I’m going to get the takedown, and I went for it. It was tough, he was doing a decent job of defending it. I think if I went for it on the feet more, maybe I would have got the win.”
White didn’t offer much of an opinion on Pimblett’s performance that night. But Gordon certainly heard plenty about his decision to slow down the pace while attempting to grind out the win.
As much as it stings to hear that his boss was unhappy with how the fight played out, Gordon understands White’s position after a back-and-forth striking battle through the first two rounds.
“I don’t blame Dana for saying that, because I was doing great the first two rounds on the feet, and if I had the same kind of round in the third round, as the first two, then maybe I would squeak out a split decision,” Gordon said. “It is one of the things I regret, so I don’t blame him for saying that.
“It does suck to hear Dana say that, obviously, but I can’t be mad at him for saying that, because I think he’s partially right for sure. I’m not mad.”
Perhaps the oddest part about White’s issue with Gordon’s strategy was that two of the judges — Doug Crosby and Ron McCarthy — actually had him winning the third round. It was the scoring through the first two rounds that cost Gordon the fight.
Regardless, Gordon doesn’t really see how anyone could give Pimblett the third round based on the very little offense he produced while spending the majority of the time with his back against the cage.
“None of it really makes sense when you look at it from either perspective,” Gordon said. “The one thing that is annoying, ‘Well, Jared threw the third round.’ Paddy did nothing in the third round besides the last 20 seconds he got a decent position. So that first four minutes and 30 seconds of me holding him against the fence and beating him up and looking for a takedown — he just sat on the fence and did a couple maybe elbows and hammer fists.
“So he did nothing either in the third round. If anything, I did a lot more in the third round than he did – but can’t change the past.”
Gordon is holding out hope that perhaps the UFC will let him run it back with Pimblett in an immediate rematch considering the overwhelming backlash on the decision. For now, he just has to try and put the fight behind him, as difficult as that might seem.
“Unfortunately, I’ve got to accept the things I can’t change and move forward,” Gordon said. “It’s just really hard for me to do right now. It’s super fresh, and maybe in like a week or two I’ll feel different.”