Recent comments by former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre have earned some enmity from his former bosses at the UFC. They’ve also earned him some respect from Bellator, the UFC’s main competitor.
Since vacating the belt and taking an indefinite hiatus from professional mixed martial arts last December, many fans in the mixed martial arts community speculated whether the Canadian superstar would ever make a return to the UFC. After all, he’s still under contract with the organization. So, if he ever decided to step out of retirement, he would be legally obligated to finish his UFC contract before signing with any other mixed martial arts promotion.
From the tone of the comments he made last week, the prospect of the former champ ever returning to the UFC is looking more unlikely. St-Pierre told the Canadian press that one of his reasons for stepping away from the sport was the UFC’s lack of testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
“It bothered me greatly, and it was one of the reasons I decided to step aside.”
For our readers who don’t remember, prior to his fight against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, St-Pierre went through additional drug testing with VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). For years, many have speculated that he used performance-enhancing drugs to get an extra edge in the fight game. The longtime champion wanted to prove that he wasn’t doping.
So when UFC President Dana White said St-Pierre looked “stupid” for doing additional drug testing, it didn’t sit well with him. The former champ became quite dismayed when his own employer said he looked stupid for trying to create more transparency in a sport that is constantly being ridiculed by critics for its prevalent use of performance-enhancing drugs like testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and steroids.
To make matters worse, White expressed outrage at the UFC 167 post-fight press conference by stating that he didn’t believe St-Pierre won the fight against Hendricks. He also chastised him for his post-fight remarks indicating he wanted to take a break from the sport. It seems that St-Pierre finally had enough of White’s bullying and spoke his mind.
Furthermore, his comments about the lack of strong drug testing weren’t the only things that put a thorn in White’s side. The former champ also indirectly called the UFC a monopoly.
“This is a relatively new sport. There’s one organization that has a monopoly, so the fighters don’t have much power. They can’t really talk because if one says what he thinks, he will get punished.”
White angrily responded to St-Pierre’s comments on Fox Sports Live:
“What I heard is Georges St-Pierre is upset about some of the things that I said at the press conference, and he’s upset that I said that he didn’t win the fight, that I thought Johny Hendricks won the fight. If that’s the case, call me man to man, let’s talk on the phone, let’s sit down face to face. I talked to him after the fight face to face, he didn’t say any of that to me. So the whole thing is a little weird.”
In addition to White’s scathing comments, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta didn’t take to St-Pierre’s statements lightly either. The Zuffa owner refrained from making harsh criticisms but his disdain was still apparent.
“Maybe Georges didn’t understand the level of drug testing Nevada was doing. They are the ultimate authority that handles drug testing, medicals and everything else — and they are very capable.”
Over at Bellator, the UFC’s main competitor, during a live conference call, CEO Bjorn Rebney had some negative things to say about how White and Fertitta reacted to St-Pierre’s comments.
“The UFC has set the bar pretty high in terms of tasteless comments. The recent comments on Georges St-Pierre are some of the most tasteless comments they’ve made in some time. I look at Georges St-Pierre as one of the most honorable champions our sport has ever seen.”
Rebney also talked about his respect for St-Pierre, and said he considered him to be a great representative of the sport.
“I don’t think GSP owes us as fans anything. I don’t think that GSP owes the UFC anything. He’s given us fans and the organization he’s fought for, he’s given everything. I think we should all be thankful we’ve had a guy like that fight in the last 10 years. A lot of his points are good points. He’s been a defacto ambassador for our sport for a long period of time, and I put a lot of credence and credibility in what he’s talking about.”
Will St-Pierre sign with Bellator? Not likely. He’s still under contract with the UFC and would have to finish his obligations with them before going anywhere else. Nonetheless, his comments are very revealing of how the former champ has felt at the UFC for the past ten years.
Only now, after he’s retired, is he willing to speak out against the company he worked under for most of his career. St-Pierre was and still is one of the UFC’s biggest stars, so it wouldn’t be smart for the UFC to publicly attack him. After all, they want him to come back eventually. They need him. The name, “Georges St-Pierre,” commands respect in the mixed martial arts community. Rebney couldn’t have been further from the truth when he said that St-Pierre was a great ambassador for the sport. Whether you’re a GSP fan or not, he’s always been a standup guy, both in and out of the cage.