category: MMA / UFC

MMA Media Continues To Create Controversy Where There Is None

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Following UFC 167, and his self-imposed sabbatical, Georges St. Pierre (“GSP”) continues to speak out against PED’s, though in a positive fashion. That hasn’t stopped the MMA media, however, from running with salacious headlines, falsely pitting GSP against his former employer.

First, a quick recap. In case any #TeamGSP fans, who have been twisted into believing GSP is strictly at odds with the company, think GSP actually departed due to concerns about PED’s widespread use, let’s refresh our memories:

At the UFC 167 post-fight presserย (i.e., the night he decided to vacate, whether for a while or indefinitely),ย GSP clearly indicated the reasons were not PEDs’ usage but rather personal problemsย troubling his life. For instance, he stated:

“I have so much stress, so much stuff going on in my life right now….”ย (circa 40:00 mark )

When asked, “is it a retirement, is it a vacation, is it personal problems?,” GSP hesitated and cryptically indicated so, adding: “I’m gonna have a talk with the guys and see what happens (regarding whether to retire, etc). The UFC has always been there for me and they always support me, they’re the ones who made me, my lifestyle… I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and I would never turn my back on the UFC, never ever.” (circa 41:30 mark) (In other words, does this sound like a guy who’s upset with the UFC, much less about PEDs?)

“I have stuff going on in my life. I need to make a point in my life, OK? And, uh, it’s my personal ife — I cannot speak to you about this…. I have a personal life, I keep personal some of my stuff.” (circa 42:30 mark)

I can’t sleep at night now, I’m going crazy. I have issues man, I need to relax. I need to get out for a while, you know? I don’t know what I’m going to do….I feel like I’m going to leave everything out now but I have to keep some of my stuff — part of my life — personal, OK? I need to get out for a little bit….” (circa 43:00 minute mark)

Lest any doubt remains, in the post-fight media scrumย with Dana White, it became abundantly evident that GSP was dealing with a personal matter. White was immediately asked he and GSP had spoken backstage (they had) and he noted: “His problems aren’t as bad as he thinks they are.” That’s friend-speak for ‘My buddy is going through a personal matter and he’s going to get through this and be okay.’ Pressed to elaborate, White noted GSP’s issues were “personal problems” and that “Lorenzo [Fertitta] was still in there talking to him. We’ll get through this.” White added fondly: “One of the things that makes Georges as great as he is, is things drive him crazy, little things drive him nuts… He’s obsessing over something else right now that might seem like the end of the world but it’s not.”ย 

Ditto for the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan:

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The rumor mill then went into immediate overdrive, with speculation over what was GSP’s personal problemย even dominating TMZ. Some claimed it was an unplanned pregnancy, others claimed it was his father’s illness, but one thing was certain — it was a personal issue, not something as technical, objective — and non-personal — as a gripe over PED’s.

Only a few days later, GSP seemed to have resolved — at least to some degree of satisfaction — his personal matter. GSP Tweeted this:

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That was November 2013.

Fast forward two months to January 2014, when this suddenly happened:

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I wrote about this at the time (including my opinion on the matter), here. UFC top brass, namely Dana White and Lorenzo Feritta, were, naturally, taken aback and shocked, as was the entire MMA community: after all, regardless of whether one agreed with GSP or not, the fact of the matter is his ‘throwing of the gauntlet’ was an abrupt change and a sudden, curious position GSP had never previously posited.

The controversy seemed to die down, however, particularly considering the UFC banned the use of TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) in late February, with GSP welcoming the move and adding that the UFC was not the problem to begin with, but rather the sport overall.

Yet one finds this headline, posted yesterday, on MMA Fighting:

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And this headline, posted today on Yahoo! Sports:

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(Note: the ‘refuting’ aspect is essentially regarding White’s recent remark that GSP had not previously — i.e., pre-sabbatical — raised the PED-use concerns to the UFC.)

The salacious headlines caught my eye and I read through the articles. Then I went back and listened to the “MMA Hour” interview — Ariel Helwani interviewed GSP on his program yesterday — on which these headlines are based.

But, listening to the interview, one realizes the headlines are misleading and unnecessarily scandalous.

Yes, GSP did state that he had raised the PED concerns with the UFC prior to his January statements. And yes, that’s technically refuting White’s remark that GSP never did so.

“I said it even before when I met with them (White and Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta). This, I swear,” St-Pierre insisted on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I met them after my fight with Johny Hendricks when I went in the back. I said that to them. I said it to them, I swear on myself and my family.ย So when they say I never said it, that I said it publicly before I said it to them, I said it to them first.”

But if one listens to the interview, the truth is (a) GSP was far more complimentary towards the UFC regarding the issue than those headlines indicate and (b) GSP did not actually, effectively refute UFC top brass’s claims that he never previously voiced said concerns.

GSP, I believe you when you say you raised a concern. Here’s the crux: I believe the UFC top brass, as well. Neither ‘side’ is lying. How’s that possible? Simple. It’s certainly believable that GSP did express, backstage after the Hendricks fight, his disastisfaction with PED’s. However, did he simply make a comment in passing? Such is what I believe happened. The conversation likely went something along the lines of:

White, Fertitta: “GSP, what’s going on? What’s wrong? Talk to us.”

GSP: (rattles off his personal problem – whatever that was/those were.. and then adds something along the lines of): “And this fight. Why am I hearing people say they scored it for Hendricks?! He takes PED’s! I’m tired of this!”

Forgive my corny re-enactment but I am simply illustrating how it’s possible that GSP did, technically, mention his concern about PED’s to UFC top brass… (i.e., so GSP wasn’t lying on Monday when he said he had) but, nonetheless, White is alsoย correct when he said GSP had never actually voiced those concerns (and Fertitta was correct in January when he expressed his shock over GSP’s sudden statements). After all, making a comment in passing isn’t exactly ‘raising a concern.’ It’s likely GSP only raised them, moreover, in reference to Hendricks in particular — and this remark of his in Monday’s interview possibly validates my theory:

“I made references to very bad things and I cannot tell you the way that I said it because I never want to accuse one individual.ย They were not surprised. I don’t believed they were surprised. I told them and they were like, โ€˜oh, you think so?’ I was like, yeah, I know for a fact.

Readers may recall that Hendricks was the subject of PED-use allegations — including by GSP himself. (See here.)

Anyone who listens to the interview, and has followed this timeline of events, can plainly understand this. So… why the headline pitting GSP against the UFC yet again, and angering fans, inciting them to ‘take sides’? Why does the MMA media insist on creating controversy where there is none, or at least not much of one? The headline could have just as well read: “GSP continues to express concerns over PED’s but compliments former employer, UFC.”

“Lorenzo is a good person,” St-Pierre continued. “Lorenzo understands that it’s true. I believe the problem is not the UFC, it’s the system.ย 

The ‘pleasantries’ don’t make it into a headline, though. Because that doesn’t lead to clicks and to ad sales? Got it.

GSP even admitted the personal problems were his main catalyst for leaving:

Though while St-Pierre agrees that those issues did indeed play a part in his decision, ultimately, he says, they were only one piece of a much larger pie.

“I have personal issues. And also the drug testing has something to do with it,” St- Pierre said.

Bottom line: Is there much of a controversy here? No, at least not anymore, especially considering the UFC’s recent ban on TRT and considering GSP’s conciliatory, complimentary tone in Monday’s interview. Yet headlines are written pitting the former champ and MMA legend — as well as his fans — against the UFC, unnecessarily causing tension and trouble.

MMA journalists, what’s the trouble?ย Perhaps writing about something positive every now and then wouldn’t kill you. It may not be click-bait… but at least it would be accurate.

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