Kai Kamaka was certain he’d be leaving UFC Vegas 25 as a winner after battling it out with T.J. Brown on Saturday night.
Instead, the 26-year-old Hawaiian fighter lost a highly controversial split decision, which is why his manager is planning to file an appeal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday.
Brian Butler, who is the president of Suckerpunch Entertainment, informed MMA Fighting on Sunday that he plans to file the appeal after Kamaka earned a 30-27 on judge Adalaide Byrd’s card but then judges Mike Bell and Sal D’Amato scored the fight 29-28 for Brown.
“Tomorrow we will be filing an appeal for the blatantly horrible decision against Kai Kamaka,” Butler said in a statement sent to MMA Fighting. “I don’t believe I have seen one media outlet that gave that fight to TJ and from what I understand even TJ and his team say they didn’t win. There is little to no recourse on these judges not being able to do their jobs properly and for a fighter like Kai who moved his entire household from Hawaii to pursue this career, it’s simply not right.
“I’m not suggesting that the fight wasn’t competitive but that doesn’t mean it was hard to see that Kai won every round of that fight. Our hope is that if they won’t overturn the decision, the commission will at least review the fight with us and explain to us where Kai lost.”
While split decisions are a regular part of scoring in mixed martial arts, there didn’t seem to be much argument about Kamaka deserving the win at UFC Vegas 25. The fight definitely went back-and-forth at times over three rounds but Kamaka seemed to do more damage, which is the highest scoring criteria.
At MMA Decisions, a site that compiles scorecards from various media outlets, not a single person scored the fight for Brown with five of the outlets actually giving Kamaka the win with 30-27 scores. The other nine polled gave Kamaka the win with a 29-28 scorecard.
Kamaka’s head coach, Eric Nicksick from Xtreme Couture, also expressed his displeasure with the decision after win ended up with Brown.
“The worst judge gets to keep f*cking up people’s careers, with no repercussions. Why??” Nicksick wrote on Twitter. “When the opponent even admits to losing the fight, we have a big problem.”
When the opponent even admits to losing the fight, we have a big problem. #UFCVegas25
— Eric Nicksick (@Eric_XCMMA) May 2, 2021
Appeals like these rarely if ever result in a fight being overturned unless there was actually an error in scorekeeping or reporting the scorecards from the judges.
That said, Butler obviously wants to at least get the commission to review the fight in hopes of explaining how Kamaka was handed a loss and only his show money on Saturday night rather than a win and his bonus at UFC Vegas 25.