UFC 167 is a little more than two weeks old and still the winds of controversy swirl.
On the night in question, November 16th, Georges St. Pierre took to the ring for his ninth consecutive title defense, as against number one challenger Johny Hendricks.
For many that watched the fight, they believed the challenger to be the victor. And surely, by the look of the champ’s face post-fight and as compared to the apparently unmarked eyes and chin of Hendricks, they might be right.
However, for a good number of others, the champion won the fight on points and although the match was close, “Rush” came out on top, three rounds to two.
As such and for most, the debate raged or rages over the first round, and whether or not it’s given to either the champ or the challenger. As it turned out and by the view of the ringside judges that night, they saw it for St. Pierre.
Dana White, however, had another view of it post-fight and emphatically declared the match four rounds to one, for Hendricks. Beyond that, he began talking in rather strident tones about an immediate rematch and Georges having to defend his belt; this despite the fact that the champ had said in the ring, post-fight, that he wanted some time off.
It came out later, as reported by the Journal de Quebec, that according to GSP’s long-time mentor and confidant, Kristof Midoux, White called Rush the day after the fight and (allegedly) apologized to him, stating that he had watched the fight again and concluded that Georges had indeed won the bout.
At least that’s the way the story has stood for the last week or so.
This past weekend in Las Vegas, MMAjunkie.com had a chance to catch up with the UFC’s President and get his take on fan backlash to his post-fight comments about St. Pierre, as well as Midoux’s remarks regarding White’s phone call to the champ.
Regarding his remarks about Rush, “forcing” him back into the cage, and how fans have reacted to it all, White had this to say:
“Realistically, I'm not forcing Georges to do anything, but Georges has to defend his title. He was off for over a year already with ACL surgery. So, if people have problems with it, I couldn’t give a s**t if they like it or don't. I don't care what peoples' opinions of that are.
In terms of Kristof Midoux assertions, White stated as follows:
I had heard that, but no, that's not true. I have not watched the fight yet. I still haven't watched the fight. This guy's like one of the new Kardashian sisters. This guy pops up out of nowhere, and now he's everywhere. I had heard that, but that’s not true. I have not watched the fight, yet.”
In defense of White's position on wanting Rush back in the ring he has a point, up to a point.
Yes, Rush is the champ and must defend his belt. Yet, at the same time, can White not let the man have until the end of January to think about his future, and not require him to render a yes or a no verdict five minutes after the toughest fight of his career.
Sadly, that ends the defense of his remarks, because any analysis of them beyond that is nothing but criticism.
Dana raised the issue of Rush being out for a year with his ACL injury. What his point is here would be anyone’s guess. GSP did not elect to take the time off and it would be a safe bet that he’d rather have been healthy and in the ring, as opposed to going through surgery and rehab.
It also raises the question of a double standard between how GSP has been or is being treated, and the manner in which Dominick Cruz has or is being treated. Rush was out and back as fast as he could be. No one can argue that fact. Beyond that he came back into the ring and immediately took on the three most dangerous fighters in his division (Condit, Diaz & Hendricks) and all within a 12 month period. On this issue, Rush’s willingness to fight and defend his belt, White should have neither question nor criticism.
Lastly, Dana’s attitude toward criticism of him and more particularly fan's opinions, could use some adjustment. To simply state that he doesn’t give a s**t about what people (fans) think, is a little much. He certainly wins no fans by speaking as such, and it only serves to diminish his brand and the sport.
As to his comments about the phone call to Rush the day after the fight, they too, are a little odd.
Dana doesn’t deny making the phone call nor does he deny making an apology. He simply doesn’t address the two issues. He does, however, attack the argument at its core, by stipulating to the fact that he hasn’t watched the fight “yet”.
On this point fans will truly be left scratching their heads. For they are being asked to believe that in the two weeks that have ensued past the match, White has been too busy to spend 25 minutes watching one of the biggest pay-per-view matches his company has ever put on, one that was highly controversial in its decision, and a bout that he personally scored wrong (4 rounds to 1), and in a match that might've been the last fight of his promotion’s biggest cash chow. That’s a little hard to believe.
Did White make the call and apologize? It’s tough to say. It would certainly be interesting to hear Rush's side of the story. However, the truth of it is would be this, if champ were to state categorically that White had indeed called, apologized to him and told him that he’d watched the fight again and believed Rush to have (now) won the match, then most fans would probably accept Rush's version of the events as being true.