23-year-old Chinese prodigy Song Yadong just competed inside the UFC octagon for the eighth time this past weekend at UFC 265, where he defeated Casey Kenney via split decision.
There have been a good amount of controversies in his last few fights, and it’s beginning to be a real wonder why.
At first, to have one or two decisions go the opposite way than they should, okay, it happens, unfortunately. But no, Yadong’s last three victories have ended controversially, or have been disputed at the very least, after opening up his UFC career winning four straight.
We’ll start there…
Yadong came over to the UFC just before turning 20 years old, where he’d take on a 30 year old man that had a five inch reach advantage on him. Yadong showed off his impressive striking, as well as his power, by dropping his opponent with a vicious overhand right. He proceeded to submit him with a front choke toward the end of round one. This was at 145 lbs mind you.
Next up was Felipe Arantes, a veteran that’d fought a number of the best in the world up until that point.
Yadong TKO’d Arantes with some nasty elbows toward the end of round two, and he was now 2-0 inside the octagon. Looking back on it, Yadong retired Arantes, because that was over three years ago and the Brazilian hasn’t fought since.
After making it to 2-0 in the UFC, improving his record to 13-4 (1 NC), he was now a much richer man, or boy rather, securing back-to-back $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses.
Next came a bout against Vince Morales, who Yadong handily won all three rounds against, being awarded the universal 30-27 scorecard, before KO’ing The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner Alejandro Perez in round one.
Perez was 6-1-1 in his last eight, and was 7-2-1 inside the octagon. This was Yadong’s second relatively big test, and the second of which he passed with flying colors, as he was awarded yet another Performance of the Night bonus with another knockout victory.
This was just over two years ago, and Perez, like Arantes, hasn’t fought since.
After this is where the controversy starts…
So, through his first four UFC bouts, Yadong looked like a sure future champion, and as you see, he was awarded bonuses in three of those four outings. However, he’s had four fights since, being awarded one bonus in those last four. He also finished three of his first four opponents in the UFC, while his last four have gone the distance.
The first of those came against No. 9 ranked Cody Stamann, who was 18-2 at the time. Yadong won round one, but landed an illegal knee to the downed Stamann, which forced the referee to take a point from Yadong.
Song Yadong came out aggressive in round two, but lost the round due to being out-wrestled. Then round three was more of the same, with Stamann out-wrestling Yadong throughout.
In all honesty, and it was evident, Yadong won round one, but it was a draw due to the point being taken away, so round one was scored 9-9, then rounds two and three were 10-9’s for Stamann.
The scorecards for this bout were 29-27 Stamann, 28-28, and 28-28. It was clearly a 29-27 victory for the American.
Next came a short notice featherweight bout against Marlon Vera, which awarded both men Fight of the Night honors. It was a great fight, obviously, and it was pretty back and forth, but next to no one scored that fight for Yadong.
The total, and significant strikes were quite even, but Vera secured two takedowns to Yadong’s zero, and he also controlled the center of the octagon the entire 15 minutes.
The Chinese talent then lost a unanimous decision to Kyler Phillips, a bout he was out-wrestled in throughout, before picking up this split decision over Casey Kenney at UFC 265.
Of course, this isn’t quite what we expected after his initial four UFC bouts.
However, he’s taken a step up in competition, and his fights have gotten closer because of it. He did win the Kenney fight last weekend, but for every one of his last four bouts to be either controversial, or disputed, it’s a tad surprising.
On the other hand, we have been seeing him improve greatly, in his takedown defense, and also in his stand up attack. He throws more kicks of more sorts now, and he’s always had good, heavy hands.
At still only 23-years-old, younger than just about every one of his peers at 135 lbs, how do you see Song Yadong’s future in the sport going?
Also, who would you like to see him face next?
If you enjoyed this piece on Song Yadong, please feel free to share it on social media!
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.