Former three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen is more than willing to hear out embattled MMA judge Mike Bell after he delivered an inexplicable 10-8 scorecard in the final round of the Noche UFC headliner.
Fans were treated to a spectacular night of fights to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, all capped off by a flyweight title rematch pitting reigning world champion Alexa Grasso against Valentina Shevchenko in a long-awaited rematch. After 25 minutes of intense action, we went to the scorecards to find out the winner.
Unfortunately, we would never find out.
— Mansoor Mohammad (@MansoorMohdK) September 17, 2023
With two judges split on the winner, it came down to Mike Bell to tip the scales in favor of one fighter or the other. Instead, Bell delivered a completely illogical 10-8 score in favor of Grasso in the fifth round, making the bout an even 47-47 on his scorecard, thus ruling the fight a split draw.
Fans, fighters, and even the Noche UFC commentary team were left fuming, but it was nowhere near the level of frustration that Shevchenko exuded in her post-fight comments.
72 hours later, the world is still trying to make sense of Mike Bell’s controversial score, including Ryan Clark who joined UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier on a recent episode of DC&RC and absolutely shredded Bell’s decision in an impassioned rant.
“It’s so anti-climactic. These are two excellent fighters. Both worthy of being champions and you don’t give them that finality. You don’t give them that opportunity to say that I was the best tonight or I wasn’t,” Clark said. “I think when judges make these sorts of calls that are inexplicable, you put people in the position of not knowing. It’s six weeks of training, or however long training camp is. You go out there and put your heart and all that you have into what you have to do in the Octagon. Both of them with their hand raised, they wanted a winner. They wanted a loser.
“And when Alexa Grasso says, ‘I got the win,’ but you didn’t because she didn’t. Nobody walked out of that Octagon and gets to say they were the better fighter that night. Nobody gets to walk out of the Octagon and gets to say it was a successful training camp because the judges stole that from them. And when I think 10-8 round, this is what I think.
“The layman. The drunk dude at the bar should be able to watch a round of UFC and say, ‘Oh my goodness. He or she got dominated so badly, it wasn’t even competitive. These two humans should not be inside the cage together. It was such a mismatch in that round that I have to give them a 10-8. I would stop the fight if I could. It was so bad. But that wasn’t what that was. Valentina Shevchenko did land some strikes and obviously, Alexa Grasso wins the round. I’m not taking that away from her, but it wasn’t that sort of dominant. It wasn’t that type of duration. It wasn’t that level of punishment opposed to what Valentina Shevchenko did.”
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 19, 2023
Chael Sonnen Offers His Take on the 10-8 Score Heard Round the World
Inviting Chael Sonnen onto the show, ‘The American Gangster’ offered up a counter-point, suggesting that Mike Bell may have had justification in scoring a 10-8 for Alexa Grasso.
In the final minute of the fight, Grasso had Shevchenko mounted and began to reign down strikes, forcing ‘Bullet’ to curl up which is an action regularly associated with giving up in the world of MMA. Because Grasso was arguably nearing a finish with only seconds to go, Sonnen believes that could be enough of a justification to call the round a 10-8.
“I have to defend Mike Bell in one regard. That fight was eligible when [Shevchenko] was being teed off on,” Sonnen said. “I realize title fights don’t get stopped and she was going to be shown the benefit of the doubt, but if you’re curled up and taking shots, and that’s what Mike Bell saw. Maybe he had a vantage point, but I would listen to what he has to say.”
He continued, ” This is a big deal, but there’s still some room to learn from there. There is a reason perhaps that Mike Bell has. Perhaps there was a vantage point. I didn’t get to see this thing live so I was at the discretion of whatever the camera angle was. I saw Shevchenko win the round. Maybe there was a different way to see it. That’s all that I’m offering.”
Alexa Grasso vs Valentina Shevchenko
The R5 '10-8 Grasso' from Mike Bell swung the result of the fight from:
– Split Decision => #AndNew Valentina Shevchenko
– Split Draw => #AndStill Alexa Grasso#UFC #NocheUFC #MMATwitter pic.twitter.com/SlZup10hf4
— Consensus Score (@ConsensusScore) September 17, 2023
Sonnen also revealed that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will be holding a meeting on Wednesday to address the controversy at Noche UFC. What comes of that is anyone’s guess, but the fact that the NSAC is even bothering to hold a meeting shows that they are at the very least taking the backlash seriously.
“As far as what the checks and balances are, they’ve agreed to hold a meeting on Wednesday, and while that doesn’t sound like much, that’s the most I’ve ever seen,” Sonnen added. “I’ve never seen a commission step up, step forward, and take any kind of an action. I’ve seen them regularly bring in fighters, fine them, suspend them, and embarrass them, but I’ve never seen them do it with their own personnel. I’ve got to commend them to at least a small degree for even holding this meeting.”
Watch the full episode of DC&RC below: