UFC Featherweight Matt Bessette has been in the fight game for quite some time. After nearly a decade of competing as a professional and not getting that call to the big leagues, Matt was the verge of hanging up the gloves forever. And just after having that heartbreaking conversation with his wife, as if fate was waiting for that exact moment, he got the call to fight Enrique Barzola at UFC 220 in Boston.
The fight was on short notice and he fought hard, but ultimately came up short. But as with most short-notice call-ups, the opportunity is simply a much-needed foot in the door. The TUF 27 Finale – held this past Friday, just one day before the stacked UFC 226 – was to mark Matt’s sophomore Octagon appearance, this time with a full training camp under his belt. By the time the third buzzer sounded, many felt as if Matt had done enough to earn his first UFC victory.
I personally had it 29-28 with the first two rounds going to Bessette. For what it’s worth, the numbers seem to back that up. Looking at the head strikes throughout the fight, Bessette outlanded his opponent 28-11 in the first round and 32 to 24 in the second. The third was spent mostly on the ground but Steven Peterson out-landed Bessette 22-16 and likely won the round with ground control.
When the results were in, only one judge agreed with my assessment. The other two gave Peterson the 29-28 nod and, ultimately, the split-decision victory. Adding to the baffling decision, the two judges who scored the fight in favor of Peterson failed to agree on which two rounds he won. All three judges gave Peterson the third round, but the first and second were split. Junichiro Kamijo gave Peterson a 10-9 edge in the second round and Glenn Trowbridge (somehow) gave Peterson a 10-9 edge in the first.
Understandably frustrated, Bessette took to social media to voice his complaints and thank his family, friends and fans for their undying support. His comments can be found below.
Matt Bessette has one fight left on his current UFC contract and in a sport where every win or loss drastically changes the trajectory of one’s career, decisions like this can have far-reaching consequences on a fighter’s life.
It’s a thankless and unforgiving sport. Judges shouldn’t be adding to the unpredictability.