LAS VEGAS — Montreal lightweight John (The Bull) Makdessi, returning after a broken jaw in a loss to Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone, lost a split decision to Yancy Medeiros on the UFC 194 undercard Saturday.
The judges scored it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for the Hawaiian, who knocked Makdessi down in the dying seconds of the 155-pound bout.
The 30-year-old Makdessi pressured the underdog Medeiros for much of the fight, often penetrating the defence of his taller opponent. But it was a close contest.
"I thought I was pushing the pace, I thought I was more accurate," Makdessi told The Canadian Press after the bout. "There was a flash knockdown but I recovered very quick. I don't know. They gave (the decision) to him. I'm disappointed."
"I don't know what to say," he added.
One of his cornermen did, telling Makdessi he was robbed.
One judge gave the first two rounds to Makdessi and the third to Medeiros. The other two judges awarded the first and third to Medeiros and the second to the Canadian.
Makdessi (13-5-0) saw the doctor after the bout to have his thumb examined.
The main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was a grudge match between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and interim title-holder (The Notorious) Conor McGregor. Chris Weidman defended his middleweight title against No. 1 contender Luke Rockhold in the co-main event.
Urijah (The California Kid) Faber, ranked fourth among bantamweight contenders, won a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 decision over No. 13 Frankie Saenz in a featured undercard bout which did not disappoint.
Faber (33-8-0) almost finished Saenz (11-3-0) with a wild flurry at the fence in the second but Saenz survived and fired back, flooring the former WEC champion with a leg kick.
"What a warrior," Faber said of Saenz.
Makdessi last fought at UFC 187 in May, fighting Cerrone on short notice as an injury replacement. Makdessi, who had knocked out Shane Campbell 28 days earlier, was forced to retire late in the second round with a broken jaw.
Cerrone's eighth straight win earned the No. 2 lightweight contender a Dec. 19 title shot against Rafael dos Anjos. Makdessi had his jaw wired shut for four weeks and was unable to return to full training for almost two months.
Medeiros (12-3-0 with one no contest) walked in to the late Hawaiian great Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, with a dash of Ice Cube to follow. Makdessi, keeping it Canadian, came in next to "Strobe" by Deadmau5.
The five-foot-10 Medeiros had a two-inch height advantage and a 7.5-inch edge in reach.
Makdessi absorbed some early leg kicks and his lead left leg began to redden early. Medeiros, switching stances, looked to use his reach and score from the outside while Makdessi showed off some of his flashy kicks.
Makdessi countered effectively and scored with his jab in the second. Medeiros tried to take the fight to the ground late in the round but Makdessi fought him off.
The Canadian finished the fight, stalking and pressurizing Medeiros until he was floored by a left hook late in the fight. He got up quickly but the damage may have been done in the eyes of the judges.
Makdessi's record in the UFC dropped to 7-4-0. Medeiros, 28, improved to 3-3-0 in the UFC with one no contest.
Makdessi was almost a 2-1 favourite coming into the fight.
"The plan going in was to use my range and force Makdessi to overcommit," said Medeiros. "I watched footage and he has a tendency to open up when he throws the overhand so I was waiting for my moment. I was patient and a lot of my counters landed clean but he's a very tough martial artist."
Leonardo Santos (15-4-1), winner of "The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2," stopped promising lightweight Kevin (The Motown Kid) Lee (11-2-0) at 3:26 of the first round, knocking him down with a right to the jaw before battering him on the ground. Santos, known for his elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu rather than his hands, then ran into the crowd to celebrate.
"I was so excited," he said.
Middleweight Warlley Alves, the TUF Brazil 3 winner, submitted Colby (Chaos) Covington, a two-time NCAA all-American wrestler, via guillotine choke at 1:26 of the first round in a battle of unbeaten fighters. Alves improved to 11-0-0 while Covington fell to 8-1-0.
Welterweight Court McGee (16-4-0), winner of Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter," won a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 decision over Marcio Alexandre Jr. (13-2-0). It was the first fight in two years for McGee due to injuries.
Russian lightweight Magomed Mustafaev (13-1-0) made short work of Joe Proctor (11-4-0), hurting him with a liver kick and then finishing him off at the fence at 1:54 of the first round.
Tecia (The Tiny Tornado) Torres, ranked fifth among strawweight contenders, dominated Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger en route to a unanimous 30-27 decision. Jones-Lybarger, a UFC debutante who holds the strawweight title on the smaller RFA circuit, was a late injury replacement.
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By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press