‘We need the FBI’ – Gilbert Burns wants UFC San Antonio judge investigated for fight fixing

At least one top UFC fighter wants to know why Cory Sandhagen barely made it out of San Antonio with the win on Saturday.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago
‘We need the FBI’ – Gilbert Burns wants UFC San Antonio judge investigated for fight fixing
January 22, 2023, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil: RIO DE JANEIRO, RJ - JANUARY 22: Gilbert Burns celebrates his victory over Neil Magny in their Welterweight fight during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 22, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil - ZUMAp175 20230122_zsa_p175_110 Copyright: xLeandroxBernardesx

By the conclusion of the fifth round of the main event of UFC San Antonio last Saturday night, one thing was clear: Cory Sandhagen had defeated Marlon Vera. The Elevation Fight Team talent had out-struck, out-wrestled, and out-grappled his foe for the majority of five rounds on his way to what must surly be a unanimous decision victory.

Then the scorecards were read.

Sandhagen still got his hand raised in the end—the only thing that really matters—but local judge Joel Ojeda turned in a mind-bending 48-47 Marlon Vera card to make it a split decision in a fight where the vast majority of fans and media had the fight sitting at a clear 50-45 or 49-46 for the victor. MMA is no stranger to wild decisions. In a sport with only a few rounds and a somewhat antiquated 10-point must-system refitted from boxing, small discrepancies in judgement from round-to round can create major shifts in the end result. But, even by that standard, this felt like a wild aberration.

So much so that at least one longtime UFC veteran is calling for an investigation. Welterweight top contender Gilbert Burns sat down with TMZ in the days following the event. When asked about the controversial scoring, ‘Durinho’ had a strong solution: Call in the FBI.

“I think this judge needs to be investigated,” Burns said of Ojeda (transcript via MMA Mania). “We need the FBI on this judge. Because those judges may be working with the betting company, getting a third person to bet. I just think it’s not real, I think those guys are being dirty and maybe try to get money out of this. Chito’s my guy and I want him to win, but there’s no way he won that fight. It’s clear to anyone. What’s wrong with that judge? It’s not the first time. What bothers me is that it doesn’t stop. We have to do something or I dunno, nothing changes.”

While commissions will regularly debrief officials after events and sometimes go over controversial scorecards or officiating decisions, those kinds of conversations are rarely ever made public. Commissions have also generally proven disinterested in taking on disputes over things like adjudication—perhaps unsurprising considering the number of fighters every week who might feel hard done by any number of decisions.

However, that leaves athletes, coaches, and managers in the unfortunate place of feeling practically powerless when it comes to filing any kind of official complaint. Ojeda’s scorecard was definitely bad, and seems like it would be hard to defend, but it also seems very unlikely that he’ll ever have to do so in any kind of public forum—even if Burns does get the FBI on the horn.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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