On Saturday night at the UFC’s 20th anniversary show, UFC 167, in Las Vegas, Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks definitely gave us a title fight for the ages. GSP successfully defended his title for the ninth-consecutive time with a split decision over Hendricks, and he added to the drama of the main event by declaring that he’d be stepping away from the octagon for a while to handle some personal things, while strongly alluding to some mental and physical issues. As for the accuracy of that split decision, well, that’s a whole different story.
A lot of people watching and offering real-time opinions on the Twitters believed that Hendricks won the fight with his devastating power attack, and UFC President Dana White is no different, albeit for more obvious reasons *cash register sound*. After the fight, White blamed the Nevada State Athletic Commission and, more specifically, fight judges Sal D’Amato and Tony Weeks for crappy scoring that cost Hendricks his rightful title victory.
“Does anybody here think Johny Hendricks didn’t win the fight?” White asked reporters after Hendricks left St-Pierre cut under both eyes and with a badly swollen face.
“I’m a promoter, he’s the biggest star on the planet to me, and I still don’t think he won that fight. I want what’s fair and that’s not fair.”
“The Nevada State Athletic Commission is atrocious. … I think the governor needs to step in immediately before these guys destroy the sport like they did boxing.
“The governor needs to step in and fix the incompetence that is happening in Nevada, to what used to be the best commission in the world. It’s absolute 100% incompetence. I’m scared to come back to the state and do fights. I’m afraid of this state.” (Via the Los Angeles Times)
Will White and the UFC move these PPV events away from Las Vegas? Probably not. But if there is a problem with fight judges, it’s not just in Nevada. It has been two months since Jon Jones defended his title against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 and I still haven’t wrapped my brain around how that one was scored a unanimous decision. Maybe the solution is handling the first problem before addressing the next. I agree with Ariel Helwani that the UFC should just have its own judges. It’s insane that it doesn’t already, but maybe the company likes being free of blame.
As for GSP’s decision to “hang up my gloves for a little bit,” I ‘m at a bit of a loss, because there is so much emotion and chaos in the minutes and even hours following fights of this magnitude, and I’d rather hear from the champ when he’s had some time to rest and ice his wounds, as opposed to right after he just had Hendricks pounding away at him. Naturally, I don’t agree with White’s cavalier response to the fight and GSP’s announcement, but there’s so much going on here, that it’s just really awkward, emotional and concerning.
And here’s White’s post-fight media scrum…
If you’re a UFC fan – apparently we should all feel terrible about ourselves for watching the UFC at all – you should obviously want GSP to do what’s best for him, because the guy has been a true superstar for years and he owes us absolutely nothing at this point. He could retire today and go down as one of the sport’s Top 3 all-time fighters, and I’d wish him the best on his career as an action star. If you’re White, though, you’re in the unenviable position of having a company position to enforce. If GSP wants to take a break and not defend his title, then he has to give the title up. Explaining that in the wake of GSP’s concerning post-fight speech makes White look like a heartless asshole, but he has a job to do just like GSP and Hendricks have jobs to do.
The bottom line is that, deserving of the win or not, we should all want GSP to do what’s best for him, but we won’t know what’s best for the champ until he’s had some time to come down from UFC 167 and explain himself on his own terms.
(Banner via Getty)