UFC 288 just came to a close with several masterful performances and finishes inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The main event saw a bantamweight clash between Henry Cejudo and the undisputed champion Aljamain Sterling. After a 5-round battle, ‘Triple C’ lost the close and competitive bout to Sterling via split decision.
The former two-division champion fell short in his attempt to become a two-time bantamweight champ. And many fans believe it could be due to a miscalculated decision. Despite it being a close fight, fans took to social media to lambast one of the judges officiating the bout, Derek Cleary.
Alongside Cleary, two other judges were responsible for scoring the bantamweight title fight – Michael Bell and Eric Colon. While two judges score the bout 48-47 for ‘Funkmaster,’ Michael Bell scored it 48-47 for Cejudo. However, Derek Cleary scored the 5th round in favor of the champion, a round the majority of the MMA community believes ‘Triple C‘ won.
Many fans believe that had Derek scored the final round appropriately, Henry would have walked out of the Octagon with the belt. Unfortunately for his supporters and fans, Cejudo has now lost a contest that was essential for his future after a 3-year hiatus. It is worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time the UFC judge has made such a huge miscalculation, especially in a main-event fight.
Derek Cleary has a history of bizarre scoring in UFC contests
As per MMADecisions, Derek Cleary has officiated over 550 MMA fights, working for promotions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator, PFL, Cage Warriors, and more. However, this isn’t the first time Cleary has come under scrutiny for his bizarre scoring. Derek’s first fight as a judge dates back to UFC 145 in 2012. According to many fans, he has robbed many UFC athletes of an arguable victory.
Aside from UFC 288, Derek drew a lot of heat from the MMA community for his role in UFC 284. He scored the razor-close fight between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski a 49-46 in favor of the Russian champion. Meanwhile, the remaining two judges scored the fight much closer at 48-47 in favor of Islam.
#UFC284 Official Scorecards: Islam Makhachev (@MAKHACHEVMMA) vs Alexander Volkanovski
See every judges’ scorecard from #UFC284 here ➡️: https://t.co/enKup6T3NK pic.twitter.com/5DJgiyxJdU
— UFC News (@UFCNews) February 12, 2023
In November 2022, Zhalgas Zhumagulov took on Charles Johnson in a flyweight clash at UFC Fight Night 215. The majority of the community thought Zhalgas deserved the victory. But Derek saw things differently as he submitted a 29-28 score in favor of Johnson, who ended up winning the split decision.
In May of the same year, Derek, along with Mike Bell scored the UFC Vegas 55 main event a 48-47 for Ketlen Vieira. Her opponent, Holly Holm, scored a 48-47 on Sal D’Amato’s books, resulting in her split decision loss.
#UFCVegas55 Official Scorecards: Holly Holm vs Ketlen Vieira (@KetlenVieiraUFC)
See every scorecard from #UFCVegas55 here ➡️: https://t.co/KGZKTNFMgT pic.twitter.com/6oxKqb4Duu
— UFC News (@UFCNews) May 22, 2022
Even the UFC president Dana White has blasted Judge Derek for his questionable scoring at UFC 259. The March 2021 main event saw Jan Blachowicz secure a decisive victory over Israel Adesanya. In terms of the final round, While Jan clearly won it using his wrestling prowess, it was not a blowout.
However, Derek scored the round a 10-8 for the Polish fighter. In the post-fight presser, Dana said, “When I came up in the fight business, a 10-8 was an ass-whooping … There was no 10-8 in that fight.”
Some of his other notable scoring over the years include a 29-28 Stephan Bonnar win over Tito Ortiz, 48-47 Alexander Gustafsson over Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier, 29-28 Raquel Pennington over Holly Holm (in their first meeting), 49-46 Alex Caceres over Yair Rodriguez and 29-28 Yan Xiaonan over Marina Rodriguez.