UFC Denver Results: Ashley Yoder Wins Split Decision Over Amanda Cooper, Judging A Head-Scratcher

Ashley Yoder and Amanda Cooper, UFC Denver face-off
Ashley Yoder vs Amanda Cooper Credit: Mike Straus/Cageside Press

Amanda Cooper may have been the victim of questionable judging, as she lost a split decision to Ashley Yoder at UFC Denver despite one judge giving her all three rounds.

The first of three fights on the women’s side at UFC Denver on Saturday night kicked off when Asheley Yoder took on Amanda Cooper. The fight represented one thing that the UFC did not have 25 years ago, when it all started in Denver: women fighting in the cage. That, of course, changed when the UFC acquired Strikeforce, and opened the octagon to Ronda Rousey.

The rest, as they say, is history. Cooper and Yoder, meanwhile, topped the televised preliminary portion of Saturday night’s historic card.

As action got underway, it was Cooper playing the role of aggressor. She attacked the lead leg of Yoder, and forced her to keep her back to the fence. Cooper would find some success with the hands, landing a left flush, but as the round progressed Yoder settled in, sat down on her punches, and found a home for her counters. That forced Cooper to switch up her attack, as she changed levels and scored the first takedown of the fight with just over ninety seconds remaining in the round. Yoder would try to trap her in a triangle, but didn’t have the position, and Cooper pulled free, still in side control. However transitioning, Yoder managed to move to the top, and looked to slice through the guard and do some damage.

Round two saw Yoder a little more aggressive, while Cooper continued to work the legs and throw her left hook. A brief clinch didn’t last long, but Cooper then drove Ashley Yoder into the fence, looking for a takedown. They’d drop and both spring back up, until Yoder landed a judo throw. Trying to step over into mount, she wound up in half guard, then in danger of upkicks. Cooper then escaped, and drove Yoder into the fence again. She’d stay on that attack finally securing a double leg takedown, and working from guard. She’d try to slice through guard and managed to get to a knee on belly position, before finishing the round in north-south.

Between rounds, Cooper’s corner was overheard telling her she had the fight in the bag. That didn’t stop her from going out and looking for year another takedown in the final frame. However, she overshot and wound up rolling over onto her back. Yoder moved into top position, but Cooper defended with a kimura from the bottom. Yoder would finally latch onto a leg for a Hail Mary knee bar, but Cooper held on then stepped over, escaping harm. It was certainly Yoder’s round, and she took the back in the final twenty seconds, but unable to get her arm under Cooper’s chin, it went to the scorecards.

Yet when the scorecards were read, surprise surprise. One judge gave all three rounds to Cooper, but the other two gave two rounds to Yoder, giving her a split decision win. The words of Cooper’s corner certainly stand out in retrospect, but ultimately it was a close fight, especially in the third.

Ashley Yoder def. Amanda Cooper by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)