Canadian lightweight John Makdessi lost by decision to Australian Jamie Mullarkey on the UFC 293 undercard on Saturday night.
All three judges scored it 29-28 for Makdessi, who looked shocked with the verdict in Sydney, Australia.
Makdessi (18-9-0) improved as the fight wore on after a strong start by Mullarkey, who was close to a 3-to-1 favourite. And his crisp striking took a toll on the Aussie in the third round.
“John Makdessi is a tough son of a gun,” said Mullarkey. “He’s an absolute veteran.”
The main event at Qudos Bank Arena saw New Zealand’s Israel Adesanya defend his middleweight title against American Sean Strickland, ranked fifth among 185-pound contenders.
The main card started at noon Sunday Sydney time.
20th UFC fight
The 38-year-old Makdessi, who made his debut at UFC 124 in December 2010 in his native Montreal, fell to 11-9-0 in the UFC.
Among Canadians, only Georges St-Pierre (22) and Patrick Côté (21) have more UFC fights on their resume. Both are retired.
Makdessi moved into a tie with the retired Sam Stout with 20 UFC bouts.
The six-foot Mullarkey (17-6-0) was four inches taller than Makdessi and had a six-inch edge in reach.
Makdessi took the centre of the cage on the first round, eating some leg kicks while looking to land punches. Mullarkey got the Canadian’s attention with a few jabs.
Mullarkey continued to find the target in the second round. But Makdessi, whose face was showing damage, staggered the Australian with a powerful right to the chin late in the round.
Mullarkey, whose nose was dripping blood early in the third round, punished Makdessi with a knee. But the Canadian showed good defence in the final round.
Makdessi had lost two of his three previous fights after a three-fight win streak, breaking his hand in dropping a decision to German-born Moroccan Nasrat Haqparast last time out in September 2022 in Paris in a battle of former teammates from Montreal’s renowned Tristar Gym.
Haqparast, with Canadian trainer Firas Zabahi in his corner, won a unanimous 30-27 decision over American Landon Quinones immediately before Makdessi’s bout Saturday.
Haqparast dedicated the win to Morocco, which was reeling from an earthquake Friday believed to have killed more than 1,000 people.
The 29-year-old Mullarkey, who was coming off a June TKO loss at the hands of Muhammad Naimov, improved to 5-4-0 in the UFC.