So now that news has come out that one of the judges in the Bendo / Melendez fight has extremely close ties to Melendez’s coach, has the California Athletic Commission hung it’s head in shame? Have they apologized for the oversight and promised new procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again? Oh the lulz. Of course not!
“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.”
“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.
See, this is the shit we’re dealing with. The CSAC thinks it’s doing a heckuva job because they’re no longer sending uneducated state employees to judge fights. While I will agree that is a huge step in the right direction, it would also be nice if the judges selected didn’t appear to have massive conflict of interest issues as well. ‘Tracing back in some respect’ is one thing. Having a guy who is part of the same overarching team and runs an affiliate school of the challenger’s coach and manager, well … that’s another.
The appearance of a conflict of interest is just as bad as an actual one. That’s a line that’s been used in combat sports forever because it perfectly sums up why shit like this doesn’t fly. Even if Vierra wasn’t influenced by his relationship with Gilbert’s coach, the appearance of favoritism is already there. Why do you think the fact that Vierra scored it for Melendez made it into the headlines of so many articles on this? Vierra’s participation in a title fight was a major fuck up, and would have been even worse had Melendez actually won.
As I said yesterday, it looks bad. For everyone involved and the sport. And now instead of admitting Vierra didn’t meet the standards expected by the fans for fair unbiased judging, the CSAC seems to be saying there’s always gonna be stuff like this. Well, maybe there will be. Commissions are notoriously terrible, and the CSAC is notorious amongst the notorious.
(pic by Kyle Terada for USA TODAY)