As if the UFC needed any more problems in the officiating department, it has now been learned that the third judge in Saturday night’s hotly contested main event between Ben Henderson and Gilbert Melendez is also an approved instructor under Cesar Gracie.
Judge Wade Vierra, who scored UFC on FOX 7’s headling fight 48-47 in favor of Melendez, operates a Cesar Gracie-affiliated academy out of Roseville, CA. As many (including myself and the raucous San Jose crowd sitting cageside) also sided with the challenger after his impressive five-round perfromance, it’s far from controversial to imagine a new lightweight champion being crowned on Saturday. However, as bias is a crucial part of the scoring system, it still begs the question: Why was Wade Vierra even appointed in the first place?
The California State Athletic Commission, who made the decision to appoint Judge Wade Vierra, is solely responsible for employing officials for such events that occur in it’s homestate of California. In the event an outcome isn’t decided within the alotted amount of time, it is then the job of the the commission, through representation of it’s judges, to most accurately decide on the winner of the contest. It can aslo be argued that Vierra, who also hosts classes for those aspiring to become commission officials themselves, deserves an equal amount of criticism for his decision to accept that appointment.
In an era where Mixed Martial Arts has now become so mainstream that the pursuit of a prize-fighting career is more lucrative than ever before, competitors are finding it more and more difficult to separate themselves from the competitive pack. Fighters are now afforded the freedom, thanks to large paydays, to focus on sharpening their skills and fight without the necessity of holding down a job to put food on the table. Because of this, the playing field is leveling out like never before. With the exception of your Anderson Silvas and Jon Joneses, fighters are more reliant than ever on the men and women commissioned to score these fights to justly, and without bias, decide on a winner.
While certain controversy was avoided Saturday night, as champion Ben Henderson was awarded the close decision, one can only hope these judging discrepancies get ironed out before it allows further issues, like this one, to continue from happening.
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