A sudden eye poke gave way to an even more sudden finish, leading to St. Preux being awarded a majority technical decision by scores of 30-28, 30-29 and 29-29.
The eye poke came 33 seconds into the final round as St. Preux was throwing the back end of a combination, a right cross, but his hand was open and a finger appeared to catch Villante in his left eye.
Villante put his hand up and went to a knee, indicating he’d been poked, and St. Preux backed off. Referee Kevin Mulhall then quickly asked him if he could see. Villante said no, and Mulhall waived off the fight. By rule, referees do not have to offer fighters recovery time for eye pokes, but often do.
Villante quickly objected to the ruling, but Mulhall stuck to his call, determining it to be an accidental foul. Because it was not intentional, the winner was determined by the judges’ scorecards, and St-Preux edged out the win.
Earlier in the fight, St. Preux staggered Villante with a first round hook. St. Preux seemed to tire in the second, allowing Villante to work his way back into the fight until the sudden ending.
St. Preux improved to 13-5, while Villante dropped to 10-4. Both fighters had been making their UFC debuts after coming over from Strikeforce.