California State Athletic Commission’s (CSAC) executive director Andy Foster has commented on the UFC on FOX 7 judging assignments for the UFC lightweight title fight featuring champion Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez. Some issue was raised when it was found that judge Wade Vierra (who judged the bout in favor of Melendez) had trained under Cesar Gracie. Foster defended the decision in an interview with MMAJunkie.
“I’m picking people who know what they’re looking at. 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.”
“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.”
Vierra was excused from being an official when Nate Diaz fought Josh Thompson, after notifying Foster that he knew Diaz. In California, all judges are required to notify Foster of any personal connection to fighters that are on a CSAC event. In Melendez’s case, Gilbert was a member of Team Cesar Gracie for a time but has moved to his own gym and only trains with Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu occasionally.
Foster clearly stands by the assignment, and Vierra’s score was not out of line with the close nature of the tightly contested split decision.
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada -USA TODAY Sports