Benson Henderson retained his UFC lightweight title Saturday night with a split decision over former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
There was no surprise at the spilt decision, but some eyebrows raised when word came out that Wade Vierra, the CSAC judge who decided for Melendez, runs an affiliate school of Team Cesar Gracie. Gracie is also Melendez' BJJ instructor of record. However, while some prominent MMA fighters, most notably the Diaz brothers, do their MMA training through Cesar, Melendez does not. Further, Cesar's association is so large that to the best of Melendez' recollection, he has never met Vierra.
In a recent appearance on MMAJunkie Radio, Melendez discussed the matter.
"I don't know the guy," said Melendez, adding "but it's good to know someone is training out there that's a judge. I don't know the dude. I don't know Wade Vierra. I don't. I can't say I haven't shook someone's hand or something. I've met a lot of people in my life. But do I know Wade Vierra? Is he in my phonebook? Do I see him or do I know him? No. I don't know who the guy is. I don't know him."
"I think it'd be a bigger deal if I won, but either way, I lost. Either I lost the split or the unanimous. It doesn't matter. I lost, dude. I lost. It doesn't really matter. Benson is still the champ."
"The positive thing is that if the guy is training, that's a good thing Yeah, you've got be selective about [any potential conflicts of interest], but some judges just don't know what's going on. I wish they'd get on the mat and train and really feel what it's like and do some boxing or some Muay Thai and visit some gyms."
"I really thought I won that fight. I felt I won the first two and the last. And honestly, the third, I thought it was pretty dang close and that I won that too.
"It was a close one. It was a battle. Benson Henderson is a stud. But I thought I was the more dominant fighter in there and taking more risks and making it a fight. I could go on and on about it, but it is what it is, I guess."
"Honestly, I felt like the biggest winner that night. I really did. I really feel like I made a statement. It was devastating to lose, but I feel like I arrived in the UFC. I got respect. A lot of people thought I was garbage, so there's a lot of positive things. I'm actually pretty high on life right now."