UFC on Fox 7, which emanated from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on Sat., April 20, 2013, featured a main event between reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson taking on former Strikeforce 155-pound titleholder Gilbert Melendez.
The bout ended in a razor thin split-decision, in favor of "Smooth."
Wade Vierra scored the bout 48-47 for Melendez. On the surface, there's no problem with that, as the bout was close. Except when you also realize that Vierra runs a Cesar Gracie affiliate school that the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) surely knows is exactly that, even going so far as to host training sessions for people hoping to become CSAC officials at Vierra's gym.
How ironic, considering "El Nino" is trained by Cesar Gracie.
The CSAC dropped the ball big-time in allowing the owner of a Cesar Gracie affiliate school to judge the Gilbert Melendez vs. Ben Henderson bout. It's a classic case of the old adage that the appearance of conflict of interest is the same thing as an actual one.
For the CSAC's sake, at least Henderson won the bout, avoiding a further conflagration.
Why the oft-troubled California commission allowed Vierra to be a judge in a bout where a Cesar Gracie-trained fighter in Melendez was competing remains one of the great mysteries. It is a stark reminder of the numerous problems they've had in the past (for a great rundown on this topic, check out Zach Arnold's lead piece on Fight Opinion here).
The CSAC dropped the ball on the biggest stage it could've. And they dodged a serious bullet with Melendez losing. If he'd won, mixed martial arts (MMA) would've achieved the rare distinction of looking as corrupt as boxing, which is no mean feat.