Li Jingliang has been a solid soldier for the UFC throughout the UFC 279 saga. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy with where things have landed — in the days leading up to the event and his controversial split decision loss to Daniel Rodriguez on short notice.
“This is a robbery,” Jingliang said through a translator on Monday’s episode of MMA time.
“Last Saturday was a terrible Saturday for me. Terrible. All of the athletes, all of the fighters on this card have prepared so hard for these fights, but [there was] lots of chaos last week. I think this is a terrible situation.
Jingliang was undoubtedly the unluckiest of the six welterweights who found themselves at the center of the chaos surrounding UFC 279. First, the 34-year-old veteran was denied the chance to show off his flashy new suit during a backstage scrimmage between Khamzat Chimaev, Nate Diaz and Kevin Holland resulted in the cancellation of the event’s pre-fight press conference. Jingliang then wasted a huge opportunity when he was substituted for a scheduled match against former UFC interim champion Tony Ferguson following Chimaev’s dramatic weight loss the afternoon before UFC 279 .
While Ferguson ended up fighting Diaz in the impromptu main event at UFC 279, and Chimaev met Holland in the card’s new co-main event, Jingliang was instead relegated to a last-second fight against Rodriguez. , who has tipped the scales at 179 pounds for the scheduled fight at catchweight – nearly 10 pounds heavier than Jingliang.
“I gained weight. Tony gained weight. Why not [they] are we fighting? It’s not our fault. So why? Tony fights Nate as the main event – why won’t they let me fight Nate? It’s not fair. I can’t accept it,” Jingliang said.
“The only option I have now [was Rodriguez]. I did everything I had to do. I’m up and I’m ready to fight. But they lack weight, they fight behind the scenes. So why them [make] I accept this responsibility and change my enemy? I don’t think that’s fair.
“You know MMA,” Jingliang continued. “You know who’s playing [best on] fight night between six fighters, which is better done. September 10 is the Autumn Festival in China, so it is a holiday that we celebrate with the whole family gathering to celebrate this holiday. And today, I’m still here preparing for the fight, far away from my family. I came to the United States, [have been here] since April to prepare. So I sacrificed a lot and just put in everything I can do for this fight, and then this is what happened during this week.
“Nate fought Tony, OK, good. And Khamzat fights Kevin, OK, they can solve their problem inside the octagon, good too. But how can I? I was fighting ‘D-Rod’, almost 10 pounds over me. And it’s not his fault, because he put on weight to fight Kevin Holland. And it’s not my fault either, I gained weight. So we have no choice.
Jingliang said he weighed himself before going to the arena on Saturday and only weighed 183 pounds. He estimated that he felt during the fight that Rodriguez “weighed 195 or 200” pounds.
However, Jingliang was about to win. The majority of fan and media scores at MMADecisions.com scored the first two rounds in favor of “The Leech.” But two of the three judges disagreed, and that was enough for Jingliang to walk away with half his salary.
“Of course, I think I won the fight,” Jingliang said. “I won the fight. … When Bruce Buffer announced the result, I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe it. It was already a terrible battle, and the result was worse. And I think that’s right [is an] injustice. I can accept defeat, it’s ok. But please tell me why, why I lost the fight. Please, three judges, tell me why you think I lost the fight. Tell me. Please let me know.
“Just to find out why, I want to sit down with the judges and have them explain to me how they score the fight, the etiquette. Explain it to me. Explain it to me. If I’m misunderstanding this sport, please correct me. I think I won the fight. Dana [White] I think I won the fight. All the fans thought I won the fight.
Despite the disappointment, Jingliang said he still hopes to fight again in 2022 and called for a fight against Jorge Masvidal. He also noted that unlike the other mainstays at UFC 279, his wallet didn’t really benefit from a last-second opponent switch.
“Some fans are saying that OK, I took this fight, the UFC can pay me a large amount of extra money. But the case is not like that,” said Jingliang.
“Dana just called me before the fight and said he owed me a main event or co-main event. It doesn’t tell the exact time when and where, but I need it. I think I need an opportunity, a bigger stage to show myself.