The 24-year-old fighter with Scottish and Australian roots showcased a powerful striking game over all three rounds while landing a total of 174 strikes to get the job done. The judges inexplicably scored the fight a split decision despite O’Neill seemingly winning by a comfortable margin as she received a pair of 29-28 scorecards while Modafferi earned a 29-28 score of her own in defeat.
Afterwards, O’Neill unloaded on the Houston faithful who showered her with boos following the win.
“If you want me to be the bad guy then f*ck you, I’ll be the f*cking bad guy,” O’Neill shouted to the crowd. “It’s clear to me and to everyone, Roxanne put everything she had left into that camp. She deserves all the good things after this sport, whatever she wants to do.”
With Modafferi marching forward, O’Neill was measured with her approach to counter striking as she fired away with nasty boxing combinations that were consistently finding a home on the chin. Modafferi refused to back down, however, as she just kept coming after her with an aggressive game plan and she was able to tag the flyweight prospect in several exchanges.
While O’Neill actually started the second round with a bloody nose and a mouse under her left eye, she was still landing the far more effective shots but she had to be careful as Modafferi was consistently throwing out multiple punches in succession.
As time passed, O’Neill began putting more pop behind her punches, which resulted in several stinging strikes twisting Modafferi’s head around. O’Neill remained in control as she stuck behind a lightning quick jab that kept catching Modafferi, who was starting to show the wear and tear on her face.
Through her first three fights in the UFC, O’Neill had been a finishing machine but showcasing her entire arsenal on the feet was very impressive as she continuously made Modafferi pay with a variety of punches and kicks.
According to the broadcast, O’Neill ended the night with the most strikes thrown in a three-round flyweight fight in UFC history.
As for Modafferi, she was still smiling from ear to ear regardless of the result as she called it a career on Saturday night following 45 professional fights.
“I’m OK with that last fight,” Modafferi said. “I gave everything that I had. It’s time for me to pass the torch to the next generation. I’m proud of myself.”