California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster insists he hired the right people to judge at this past Saturday’s UFC on FOX 7 event.
Despite questions surrounding the assignment of judge Wade Vierra to the event’s headliner between lightweight champion Benson Henderson and former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, Foster said he would make the same choice again.
“I’m picking people who know what they’re looking at,” Foster today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I will not pick state workers again to judge these fights in California. I had two brown belts and a purple belt judging a world title fight, and they all have striking experience. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Following the event, which took place at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., MMA observers took note of an apparent conflict of interest with Vierra, who served as an instructor at a school affiliated with Melendez’s sometime coach, Cesar Gracie.
“It’s more important for me to get the score right than to hire some state worker and get the score wrong,” Foster said. “We have a problem with incompetence in this sport, and when you hear people say, ‘We need to use fighters; we need to use people that train.’ Well, if we do that, they’re going to trace back in some respect. You can make a connection anywhere.”
Foster said he was aware of Vierra’s relationship with Gracie and said it didn’t rule him out for the assignment. Vierra was, however, taken out of consideration for a main-card bout between Nate Diaz and Josh Thomson when he said he knew Diaz.
Per the CSAC’s ethics policy, judges are asked to report any conflicts that might affect their ability to properly judge a fight, Foster said.
Vierra scored rounds one, four and five for Melendez, awarding the challenger the fight. Judges Derek Cleary and Michael Bell gave Henderson the nod by awarding him rounds three through five and two through four, respectively.
Foster said he took no issue with the scores, which prompted a wave of boos from the crowd. Oblivious to the controversy, Henderson dropped to a knee and successfully proposed to his longtime girlfriend.
UFC President Dana White scored the fight for Henderson, whom he said had a penchant for close-call decisions.
“All his fights go to decisions – and controversial decisions,” he said.
For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Gilbert Melendez)