While it’s generally bad enough to be on the losing side of a decision in mixed martial arts, controversial verdicts in the sport—as in the real world—are even more disheartening.
For the time being, John Howard, who dropped a close decision to Matt Brown at UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry—his third loss in a row—is hoping that his most recent outing won’t cost him his job with the UFC.
Initially scheduled to fight Martin Kampmann, Howard took to the Octagon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to take on Brown, a veteran of nine matches in the UFC, on June 26.
After 15 minutes of action, the bout was called to a halt and, to the surprise of many, Howard was awarded a unanimous decision loss for his efforts.
Howard, who firmly believes that he won both the first and third rounds of his most recent match—while skeptical of his chances in the second period—was admittedly shocked when the judges’ scores were revealed.
“I thought I won—I really thought I won the fight,” Howard told me in an exclusive interview. “I thought it was going to be a split decision, but I thought I’d won. When it was a unanimous decision, I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And then when they gave it to him, I was like, ‘Get the hell out of here!'
“There was no doubt in my mind that I won the fight. I was confident, I was happy. I passed his guard, I had his back. I don’t know what happened.”
Since last Sunday, Howard has watched the footage of his fight a number of times and still, after more than a week and a half, has “no idea” how the judges at ringside scored the bout in favour of Brown.
“I have to give it to Matt Brown; he did a good job and put on a good performance, but I just don’t agree that it was a unanimous decision," Howard said. "He didn’t dominate me at all—he didn’t. I still think I won. I’m not a sore loser, but I think that I won that fight.”
Despite bursting onto the mixed martial arts scene with victories over his Chris Wilson in his UFC debut, Tamdan McCrory, Dennis Hallman, and Daniel Roberts, Howard has since dropped three straight matches—a doctor’s stoppage against Jake Ellenberger, a decision loss to Thiago Alves and his most recent match against Brown—and is potentially on the verge of being released by the biggest promotion in the sport.
At the moment, Howard, a fan favourite in the UFC’s welterweight division, is waiting on a call from the Dana White and Co.—although he, at this point, is unsure what the subject matter of the call will be.
“It’s up to the UFC [to keep me or release me]," he said. "I hope the UFC keeps me, but I don’t know anything. I hope they keep me—I really love fighting in the UFC—and I just want another chance to prove my worth. If I lose my next fight in the UFC, then maybe I should be kicked out, but I think I deserve at least one more chance after a fight like that. I came to fight. We’ll see what happens.”
Although Howard is the first to admit that he’s unsure if the UFC will have him back in the future or not, the man they call “Doomsday” is hoping for a little push in the right direction from his fan-base.
“To all the fans out there that feel I deserve another chance, hit up Dana White on Twitter or on Facebook and express what you feel.”