The UFC CEO was on vacation this past weekend but still tuned into Saturday’s main event, which featured a dazzling rematch between UFC flyweight champion Alexa Grasso and former titleholder Valentina Shevchenko. While the matchup played out as one of the best fights of 2023, it also was mired in controversy, as judge Mike Bell scored an inexplicable 10-8 in Round 5 in favor of Grasso. That one scorecard proved to be the deciding factor that left the bout as a split draw, which allowed Grasso to retain her title.
And White couldn’t believe his eyes.
“When I found out that one of the judges scored 10-8, I’m like, this guy should be f****** investigated for this. This is the craziest s*** I’ve ever seen in my life,” White said Tuesday.
“I started to talk to people, I guess there’s a seminar tomorrow with the [Nevada] athletic commission on 10-8s, so hopefully they can get this cleared up. Especially in title [fights] — there’s so much at stake in a title fight. More than just money, show and win, and pay-per-view and championships and legacies — it’s just, you have to have the best of the best in title fights. So they’ve assured me that this guy isn’t a bad guy, he just f***** up and made a mistake, and it’s unfortunate, and there’s no way in hell that was a 10-8 round.”
White is not alone in his criticism. The MMA world has almost unanimously torched Bell for his baffling 10-8 scorecard in the days since Noche UFC. Even cageside commentators Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz couldn’t help but express their bewilderment and disgust on Saturday’s broadcast once Bell’s scorecard came to light.
Yet because of the shroud of secrecy judges are afforded by state athletic commissions, even White remains unclear on why exactly Bell turned in the scorecard that he did.
“Unfortunately, you’ll probably never have the opportunity to have him sitting somewhere like this and ask him that question, because only he knows the answer to that question,” White said. “Valentina gets dropped in [Round 2] — that’s not a 10-8 but the fifth round is a 10-8? It literally makes no sense.
“I get it, why the athletic commission wouldn’t want to put their guys out in front of the media and deal with the fans and all the bulls***, but you just don’t throw 10-8s around. The third round tonight [for Stephanie Luciano vs. Talita Alencar] was a 10-8. When there is an absolute ass-whooping and the fight could be stopped at any moment, and one fighter absolutely dominates from bell to bell, you can score it a 10-8. This whole [criteria of] domination, control, and all this other bulls***, it’s just the biggest crock of s*** of all-time for a 10-8. A 10-8 is an absolute ass-whooping, period.
“These people are human, they make mistakes, but this one’s total bulls***,” White continued. “For that to be a 10-8 round, there is no excuse for that. There is no excuse for that 10-8.”
If nothing else, Saturday’s controversy made the next step an obvious one for White.
The UFC boss said Tuesday that he fully intends to give Shevchenko the opportunity for an immediate trilogy fight. White stated that the UFC is comfortable with Shevchenko’s timeline to return from surgery on a broken thumb, and added that Erin Blanchfield vs. Manon Fiorot “makes sense” as a No. 1 contender fight while the rest of the division waits.
“They have to rematch. You have do the rematch. We will rematch them. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the fight that needs to happen,” White said.
“We’re comfortable with where [Shevchenko] is at as far as her injury. We’re comfortable with it. She probably starts striking again in three months or a little less.”