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 and former Strikeforce 155-pound titleholder Gilbert Melendez.
"Smooth" won a close split decision to retain his division title.
Controversy arose when it was discovered that Judge Wade Vierra -- who scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Melendez -- runs a Cesar Gracie affiliate school in Roseville, California. "El Nino," as most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans know, is trained by Cesar Gracie.
Confilict of interest? Or unavoidable connection?
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) tells MMA Junkie it's the latter and contends the best possible judges were in place for last weekend's shindig at the "Shark Tank."
"It's more important for me to get the score right than to hire some state worker and get the score wrong. 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. 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."
Remember Ricardo Almeida?
Almeida runs several jiu-jitsu schools in New Jersey.
The best possible way to avoid any conflict of interest is to leave him off cards or bouts that feature students from his school. Vierra was pulled from the Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson bout due to his existing relationship with Diaz, but remained in place for the main event.
Fair or foul?