Every UFC title fight to end in a draw

It’s rare, but every now and then a UFC championship fight ends in a draw.

Whether it’s because a title fight is closely contested or a point deduction or a judge’s inexplicable scorecard, we’ve come away from certain title fights with an unfulfilling result.

Below is a list of the draws that have been scored in UFC history.

B.J. Penn vs. Caol Uno 2 at UFC 41 – February 28, 2003

Type of draw: Split
Judges and scores: Douglas Crosby (48-46 Penn), Tony Mullinax (48-47 Uno), Steve Wright (48-48)

In their first fight at UFC 34, Uno sprinted toward Penn and threw a flying knee that whiffed before Penn responded by blitzing Uno with punches and knocked him out in 11 seconds. That was far from the result in their rematch almost 14 months later. With the vacant lightweight title at stake, Penn and Uno battled for 25 minutes in a close matchup that ultimately was too close to call for the judges, with two of them split on the winner and one declaring it a draw. It was an unfortunate way to end the lightweight tournament.

Without a champion, the UFC moved on from booking a trilogy and, believe it or not, disbanded the lightweight division for a period of time. When Penn returned to the UFC on January 31, 2004 at UFC 46, it was as a welterweight. And he submitted Matt Hughes by first-round rear-naked choke to claim the 170-pound title.

Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 2 at UFC 125 – January 1, 2011

Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 125. (USA TODAY Sports)
Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard at UFC 125. (USA TODAY Sports)

Type of draw: Split
Judges and scores: Patricia Morse Jarman (47-47), Marcos Rosales (48-46 Edgar), Glenn Trowbridge (48-46 Maynard)

Maynard was so close to claiming the lightweight title in the first round when he dropped Edgard with a hard left hook early in the first round and then proceeded to pummel him with strikes for the majority of the next 3 minutes and 45 seconds. The fight could’ve been stopped at any moment, but in one of the greatest displays of toughness, Edgar managed to survive the round despite being dropped at least three times.

“Amazing that Frankie Edgar was able to recover from that at all,” Joe Rogan said on the broadcast.

With a clear 10-8 first round for Maynard in the books, the odds were stacked against Edgar to defend his title. But “The Answer” responded well over the next four rounds, all of which were closely contested. The action produced scores that were all over the map, but the key to Edgar retaining his belt was judge Rosales scoring Rounds 2 through 5 in favor of Edgar 10-9 and awarding him the fight.

Afterward, a dejected Maynard said at the post-fight news conference, “I thought it was mine. I thought I had the belt.”

Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson at UFC 205 – November 12, 2016

Tyron Woodley (red gloves) fights against Stephen Thompson in their welterweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports)
Tyron Woodley (red gloves) fights against Stephen Thompson in their welterweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports)

Type of draw: Majority
Judges and scores: Derek Cleary (47-47), Douglas Crosby (47-47), Glenn Trowbridge (48-47 Woodley)

To put it bluntly, this was a wild fight with weird scores and a confusing ending. In the first round, Thompson threw a kick that resulted in a Woodley takedown, and the champ took advantage of the top position until the bell and bloodied up “Wonderboy.” In Rounds 2 and 3, Thompson outworked Woodley with his striking.

Then in Round 4, things took a dramatic turn after Woodley dropped Thompson with a right hand midway through. Woodley hammered him with follow-up punches against the fence, but Thompson managed to stagger to his feet, only to get trapped in a standing guillotine choke. When Woodley couldn’t get the finish, he dropped to his guard and cranked the choke, but Thompson survived and even escaped near the end to close out the round with some ground-and-pound of his own.

With Thompson recovered, he took control of the fifth round with his patient striking, which appeared to fluster Woodley.

Judge Trowbridge awarded Woodley three rounds to produce his 48-47 scorecard. But the other two judges, Cleary and Crosby, awarded Thompson three rounds. However, they each scored separate 10-8 rounds for Woodley (Crosby the first, Cleary the fourth), resulting in their 47-47 scores and the majority draw.

To make things confusing, UFC announcer Bruce Buffer originally read the scores as a split decision win for Woodley to the Madison Square Garden crowd.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno at UFC 256 – December 12, 2020

Brandon Moreno (blue) punches Deiveson Figueiredo in their flyweight championship bout during UFC 256. (Photo by Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC)
Brandon Moreno (blue) punches Deiveson Figueiredo in their flyweight championship bout during UFC 256. (Photo by Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC)

Type of draw: Majority
Judges and scores: Derek Cleary (48-46 Figueiredo), Sal D’Amato (47-47), Junichiro Kamijo (47-47)

If not for the insanely violent Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk classic nine months earlier at UFC 248, Figueiredo vs. Moreno very well could’ve been the 2020 Fight of the Year, which is actually pretty wild considering the bout was made on three weeks’ notice after both men won at UFC 255.

In the end, after 25 minutes of going at each other at whirlwind pace, the reason for the draw was a low blow by the champ in the third round. Referee Jason Herzog deducted a point for the illegal strike and if not for that, Figueiredo would’ve won a unanimous decision. Instead, we ended up with a majority draw.

It wasn’t the result anyone wanted to see, but we were better for it as the result set up three more (solid) fights for the first tetralogy in UFC history. Moreno won the overall series 2-1-1.

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Jan Blachowicz at UFC 282 – December 10, 2022

Jan Blachowicz (red gloves) fights Magomed Ankalaev (blue gloves) during UFC 282 (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)
Jan Blachowicz (red gloves) fights Magomed Ankalaev (blue gloves) during UFC 282 (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)

Type of draw: Split
Judges and scores: Mike Bell (48-47 Blachowicz), Derek Cleary (48-46 Ankalaev), Sal D’Amato (47-47)

Here’s how you know a draw is the wrong outcome: When one fighter thinks he won and his opponent agrees with him. That was the case here as Ankalaev was stunned by the outcome, and Blachowicz admitted that he believed Ankalaev rightfully won the vacant light heavyweight title.

Not only was the result unfortunate, but the fight was “terrible,” according to UFC CEO Dana White. “I started to zone out after like f*cking three rounds,” he said afterward. It was so bad that White didn’t give any thought to running it back and immediately announced a new vacant title bout during the UFC 282 post-event news conference.

Yikes.

 

Alexa Grasso vs. Valentina Shevchenko 2 at Noche UFC – September 16, 2023

Alexa Grasso (red gloves, background) and Valentina Shevchenko (blue gloves) react after their fight at Noche UFC was announced as a split draw. (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)
Alexa Grasso (red gloves, background) and Valentina Shevchenko (blue gloves) react after their fight at Noche UFC was announced as a split draw. (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)

Type of draw: Split
Judges and scores: Mike Bell (47-47), Sal D’Amato (48-47 Shevchenko), Junichiro Kamijo (48-47 Grasso)

Grasso and Shevchenko put on one of the most entertaining fights of 2023 in their rematch six months after their first encounter. We could debate whether Grasso or Shevchenko should’ve won. What’s not debatable, however, is that Bell’s 10-8 for Grasso in Round 5 was a travesty of MMA judging.

Because of it, the fight ended in a split draw. If not for the inexplicable 10-8, Shevchenko would’ve regained the title by split decision. With that in mind, she had reason to feel robbed afterward.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie