Junior dos Santos beats Stipe Miocic in controversial call after instant classic

Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic battled for 25 minutes in an instant classic that may forever be marred by a judges’ decision that left the crowd in Phoenix stunned when the scores were read.

The judges returned scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46, all in the favor of dos Santos despite a very rough start to the fight where it appeared the former champion had clearly lost the first two rounds.

Miocic came firing out of the gates early, putting dos Santos against the cage and unloading big punches as soon as the two fighters separated. Dos Santos immediately started showing the wear and tear of the punishment as his eye was swollen and his nose began to bleed.

The damage continued in the second with Miocic tagging dos Santos with a series of right hands that had the former champion circling as quickly as he could around the cage to escape the shots.

Miocic closed the second round with a big takedown on dos Santos that seemed to secure the scorecards in his favor once again.

Dos Santos powered back in round three and ended up with his first knockdown of the fight when he countered Miocic with a hard left hand that briefly put him on the canvas.

The fourth round saw both fighters running out of gas, but dos Santos and Miocic found the energy to start pummeling each other with huge, heavy shots that ended with a huge ovation from the crowd.

Miocic slammed a few more big shots in dos Santos’ face in the fifth and final round, although the champion’s chin held up remarkably under the pressure. He countered and landed a couple of straight rights to Miocic, but the Ohioan weathered the storm and kept coming back with more offense of his own.

The fans roared when the fight ended, but as the scores were read and dos Santos was announced as the winner, it appeared nearly everyone was shocked. Miocic wasted no time stomping out of the cage and making his way to the back, clearly upset by the call.

To his credit, dos Santos was classy in victory as he gave Miocic all the praise for one of the toughest fights of his career. The fight will surely go down in history as one of the best heavyweight fights of all time, but the final decision may still leave a scar on an otherwise perfect bout between dos Santos and Miocic.