Charles Johnson controversially earned a split decision victory over Zhalgas Zhumagulov tonight at UFC Fight Night 215.
Zhumagulov with an inside leg kick. Now an oblique kick. He lands a hard inside low kick. A right hand gets through the guard.
Body kick lands for Johnson now. Zhumagulov with a leg kick and then a big overhand that misses. There’s a brief stoppage due to what was deemed to be an eyepoke, but tape review shows it was a palm rather than a finger that landed to his eye which is legal, so the action gets back underway.
Head kick attempt from Johnson is blocked, but does land a low kick. Zhumagulov throwing upstairs and then is back to that solid leg kick.
A couple of swings and misses from Zhumagulov but then lands nicely to the body. Two body kicks from Johnson, but the last one is caught and he stumbles to the mat, but gets straight back up.
Zhumagulov lands a punch and Johnson was hurt by that. Brief clinch against the cage from Zhumagulov but they break apart.
Johnson with a body kick. Nice strike from Zhumagulov. Three-piece combo from Zhumagulov has Johnson troubled again.
Johnson lands a nice punch and that seems to fire him up as he’s now moving with more energy and purpose than before. However, Zhumagulov does connect again, only to then get caught by a low blow to the groin that forces a lengthy stoppage while he recovers.
Body punch from Zhumagulov and thhen a missed overhand. He lands a low inside kick. Now he’s stepping into a heavy right hand that lands nicely, but Johnson takes it.
Zhumagulov drives in and lands a takedown. Johnson is soon back up and lands a knee. Body kick from Johnson.
Johnson with a kick, Zhumagulov with a counter punch. Jab for Zhumagulov. Johnson’s leg buckles for some reason, but he gets back to it ok.
Big kick from Johnson lands. Both fighters throwing with bad intentions as the round draws to a close.
Inside leg kick for Zhumagulov. Now a brief flurry of punches to the head and a low kick again.
Zhumagulov with another flurry. Inside leg kick. Another kick. Johnson with a push kick, but Zhumagulov lands a counter hook.
Jab for Zhumagulov. Side kick to the body from Johnson. Low kick for Zhumagulov. Body punch from Zhumagulov. Low kick and now an overhand.
Punch from Johnson and two in return from Zhumagulov. Inside leg kick from Zhumagulov and then punches to the body.
Hard hook from Zhumagulov as Johnson was stepping forward. Zhumagulov complains about an eyepoke but the ref’s not buying it and tells them to continue.
Zhumagulov back to the leg kick. Now body punches as he drives into the clinch against the cage. He throws a knee and it strays to the groin, sending him to the mat and forcing a stoppage.
Back to it they go. Nice left hand from Zhumagulov. He lands another couple of punches and then goes to the body.
Nice left hand from Zhumagulov. Johnson’s pawing at his opponents lead hand but not throwing. Body kick for Johnson. Body punch and then a nice left to the midsection and right upstairs from Zhumagulov.
repeated leg kicks from Johnson now, but Zhumagulov takes advantage of that to bring him to the mat. Johnson quickly back up and now he’s clinching Zhumagulov up against the cage.
Knee to the body for Jonson. He throws it again. Now a punch for good measure. Zhumagulov attempts a trip, but Johnson manages to stay up. However, now it’s Zhumagulov whose pressing him into the cage. They jockey for position and Johnson has the advantageous position again. Zhumagulov manages to land again before the round ends.
Zhumagulov pressing forward with strikes and Johnson lands an accidental blow to the unmentionables, leading to yet another stoppage.
Inside leg kick from Zhumagulov on the reset and he clutches at his leg, clearly hurt. Zhumagulov wades in looking to take advantage throwing strikes.
Johnson is stamping the mat repeatedly trying to get his leg to work properly as it appears to have been deadened by that kick.
Now Zhumagulov lands to the leg again. Johnson still stomping his foot into the mat and now bouncing up and down.
Johnson manages to land a couple of nice punches. Zhumagulov slowing. Johnson lands big, but Zhumagulov also connects with a counter hook.
Johnson fired up though and is letting his hands go. Zhumagulov tags him upstairs though. Stepping jab from Zhumagulov.
Leg kick for Zhumagulov. Inside leg kick now. One-two upstairs lands nicely. Johnson pressing him with a flurry. He misses on a kick.
Left hand to the chin from Johnson. Now he’s pressing forward with straight punches that backs Zhumagulov up to the cage.
Zhumagulov survives that blitz. He lands an inside low kick. Side kick from Johnson. He misses a kick and Zhumagulov tries for a takedown, but it doesn’t pay off. Johnson clinching up now, but then backs up.
Nice left hook for Zhumagulov. Right hook for Johnson. We’re going to the judges to decide this one.
Zhumagulov certainly appeared to be getting the better of the action in the first two rounds, particularly with his repeated low kicks and that paid off for him in the third round when Johnson’s leg seemed to go numb and left him compromised.
However, Zhumagulov had suffered a couple of groin strikes by that stage in the fight and seemed to be fading rapidly, so he didn’t fully capitalize and Johnson actually found his second wind to end the fight with some of his best work.
Nevertheless, this seemed like a fairly straight-forward verdict until the judges scorecards came back and Johnson was declared the winner by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
Bad decision, Zhumagulov has to feel robbed by that.