UFC 247 took place on Feb. 8 and left the MMA community with plenty of talking points. Perhaps none were greater than the aspect of judging and scoring in the sport. Something that usually has a negative connotation surrounding it.
At the conclusion of the Houston, Texas event, fans had been treated to seven fights that ended by decision out of the total 12. Four of those seven tallied out to be split decisions thus showing the closeness of the bouts … or perhaps some incompetence on the part of those chosen by the Texas Combative Sports Program (TCSP).
Of the many questionable cards that were submitted that night, the most jaw-dropping all came from the same judge. That being Joe Soliz who judged three of those fights. One of which included the main event between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes where he gave four of the five rounds to Jones.
Prior to the main event, however, Soliz judged the final prelim of the evening which featured Trevin Giles taking on the incredibly short notice replacement, James Krause, in a middleweight contest.
In the end, Giles was awarded the split decision victory with judge Soliz’s scorecard being the deciding factor.
Round one started and Krause was able to find himself on Giles back literally within a minute into the fight. Having one of the most dominant grappling positions, Krause would work his offense as he looked for and came close to securing multiple rear-naked chokes until the final minute of the round.
An objectively obvious round in favor of Krause was scored for him by the other two judges … but not Soliz.
With round two being scored for Giles across the board, round three was the closest but Krause won it on two of the judges’ scorecards. It was just that opening round being given to Giles by Soliz that lost him the fight.
On Tuesday, TSN revealed that the judge in question actually had a connection to this fight. And as according to the TCSP themselves when asking for disclosure when making assignments, as well as the veteran referee and judge instructor “Big” John McCarthy, this is a clear conflict of interest. As a result, Soliz should not have judged the bout.
“Most will never allow you to judge a fight when you have that sort of background with a cornerman or fighter,” McCarthy said.
Giles’ coach at Elite MMA, Eric Williams, gave Soliz with his black belt in 2008. This was two years prior to his departure from the gym, according to Soliz via TSN. Williams was in Giles’ corner during the fight and Soliz also happens to be Facebook friends with the victorious fighter.
Despite Soliz stating that he hasn’t been in contact or associated with Elite MMA in eight years, Williams also spoke to TSN and shared the following.
“I’ve known Joe for years,” Williams said. “I haven’t talked to him in probably a year and a half or two years. The problem is it’s kind of a small world, so you get people crossing paths and I think that you’re going to have stuff like that happen. Whenever you can prevent it, I would. But again, I don’t worry about it. If you finish the fight, you don’t have to worry about those kinds of things. I really don’t concern myself with it.”
As for the TCSP, when looking to confirm whether or not Soliz had any direct interest or investment regarding any participants or people involved with the event, Soliz answered by saying no. Williams assumed that the commission would have known about their connection and would be surprised if they hadn’t.
Williams would also share that Soliz instructed Jeet Kune Do and Progressive Fighting Systems at Elite MMA, previously known as Elite Martial Arts, dating back to 2002. Soliz started training at the gym sometime in the 1990s, Williams told TSN.
In the end, a rather upset Krause took to Instagram upon seeing the news to vent and express his frustration.
For Krause who is also the head coach of a gym in his own right at Glory MMA & Fitness in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, his six-fight winning streak has come to an end.
Giles, on the other hand, rebounds from a two-fight skid where a loss could have seen him departing from the UFC.