UFC flyweight prospect Jeff Molina has clarified his reaction to hearing the 30-27 scorecard after his fight with Zhalgas Zhumagulov this past weekend.
In one of the more notable bouts on the UFC Vegas 56 card, entertaining Dana White‘s Contender Series alum Molina looked to maintain his undefeated promotional record against 21-fight MMA veteran Zhumagulov.
The pair of flyweights fought to the scorecards after a closely contested 15 minutes of action. While the community was largely split on the victor, most agreed that the scorecards should have read 28-27 either way.
While the first two followed that consensus, the third and deciding verdict saw Joe Martinez read out 30-27. Upon hearing it, Molina wheeled away in frustration, seemingly believing that the one-sided scorecard meant he’d suffered his first defeat in the Octagon.
When his name was announced as the split-decision victor, Molina appeared surprised as he returned to the center to have his hand raised and celebrate with James Krause.
While many have used Molina’s reaction as evidence that Zhumagulov was the rightful winner, “El Jefe” has now sought to explain his reaction.
Molina: The Reaction Was The Pessimist In Me
During an interview with MMA News’ own James Lynch days after extending his UFC slate to 3-0, Molina clarified that he firmly believes he did enough to emerge victorious.
Highlighting the recent judging controversy and the apparent lack of understanding for the scoring criteria across the MMA community, the 24-year-old reminded those who disagreed with the verdict of the importance of damage when judging fights.
“We got it done, man. Winners win, and I found a way to win. I thought I won that fight. I’ve watched it at least 10, 15 times, at least bro… I feel like I won that fight,” said Molina. “I gave myself rounds one and three, round three being the clearest. Round two, I gave him just because he landed a check hook right on the button.
“The biggest criteria in the sport is damage. I know there’s been some controversy in the last couple weeks with what the judging criteria is, which is crazy to think because the sport’s been around for 28 years or something crazy,” added Molina. “Not many people know how it’s judged, fighters included… But the biggest criteria is damage and I felt like I landed the most damaging shots… You don’t get awarded for control time, just holding someone against the fence.”
With that said, Molina told MMA News that his reaction as more out of pessimism and a worry that the wrong decision had been made. He also revealed the words of encouragement referee Herb Dean gave him after the result was announced.
“I shouldn’t be having these close fights, in general. it was just the pessimist in me that thought the judge gave it to him,” said Molina. “It wasn’t me thinking I didn’t win that fight, it was just me being a pessimist. Even Herb (Dean) came up to me right afterwards and was like, ‘Hey man, you gotta believe in the judges a little bit more.'”
Catch our full interview with UFC flyweight Jeff Molina below:
How did you score Jeff Molina vs. Zhalmas Zhumagulov at UFC Vegas 56?