Considering the three main players involved in the current saga between Georges St-Pierre and the UFC, it’s actually developed rather predictably.
At the middle of the dispute, you have St-Pierre and UFC president Dana White. Somewhere between them is UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta.
St-Pierre, despite being one of the most dominant men in the history of professional fighting, is surprisingly nonconfrontational. White is the polar opposite. Fertitta, a levelheaded billionaire, is, again, somewhere in between.
In reality, this whole situation was born well before St-Pierre made his disparaging remarks on the UFC’s drug-testing policy on Tuesday. It probably started in 2009, when former St-Pierre opponent BJ Penn publicly accused him of using steroids.
Josh Koscheck lobbed a similar accusation St-Pierre’s way, before retracting it days later. And just last year, prior to fighting (and losing) to St-Pierre at UFC 158, Nick Diaz calmly stated to a Canadian radio station, “I believe he is on plenty of steroids.”
St-Pierre, who has won more title bouts than any fighter in UFC history, has never tested positive for a banned substance. If it is true he has never used a performance-enhancing drug -- and there is no concrete evidence that says he has -- it is perfectly understandable that approaching his 21st UFC appearance against Johny Hendricks in November, the champ was fed up with the false accusations.
This, presumably, is why St-Pierre advocated for additional drug testing, to be performed by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, ahead of the Hendricks fight. This reaction was very characteristic of St-Pierre. Rather than call a news conference and confront accusations with words, he attempted to do it with action.
Representatives for St-Pierre, 32, made it clear he wished to be tested specifically for human growth hormone (HGH), which state athletic commissions do not test for. That made sense, as HGH was the substance previous opponents linked to St-Pierre.
Here’s where things went downhill. Hendricks, who has never failed a test as a professional athlete or Division I collegiate wrestler, agreed to undergo the VADA program as well, but eventually backed out due to what he perceived to be an existing relationship between the Las Vegas-based nonprofit and St-Pierre.
A compromise was discussed in which both fighters would participate in an enhanced out-of-competition program, conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and paid for by Zuffa, parent company of the UFC.
St-Pierre, most likely due to his fixture on the HGH topic, requested a list of what banned substances the NSAC would randomly test for. Naturally, the NSAC wouldn’t reveal those details. His representatives say he did so because he wanted to make sure it would clear his name regarding certain substances, which is believable.
Eventually, the NSAC lost patience with St-Pierre’s management asking questions it couldn’t answer and the compromise fell through. White, for his part, called the whole situation “stupid,” pointing out the NSAC runs its own tests anyway.
That comment likely burned St-Pierre. There was White, the most influential figure in the sport, minimalizing a matter that St-Pierre held very personal. Additionally, St-Pierre was dealing with significant personal stress, a fact he revealed afterward.
Then you have the fight. Hendricks gave St-Pierre perhaps the toughest 25 minutes of his career. St-Pierre looked battered and, simply put, like a man who needed a break from cage fighting. He won a split decision and announced he needed to step away.
This was followed by a self-described “meltdown” by White, who publicly blasted the judges’ decision and dismissed St-Pierre’s apparent “retirement.” By the end of the night, White promised a rematch within a normal time frame.
Fertitta, meanwhile, acknowledged he scored the fight for Hendricks but also correctly stated that based on the current scoring system, it was perfectly plausible to award the fight to St-Pierre.
St-Pierre officially vacated the belt the following month. Then Tuesday’s statements came along.
This is how we got here. What's important is what happens next.
If there is a major problem concerning PEDs in the UFC, and there are those who say there is, St-Pierre is an ideal spokesperson to address it.
As it stands now, St-Pierre could venture down that route or he could drop it. Both have consequences. A hard stance could compromise his option of returning to the UFC should he desire to compete again, which I believe is likely.
Dropping it or [even worse] saying his comments were the dreaded, “taken out of context,” would diminish his future credibility on the issue.
If this turns out to be nothing more than St-Pierre wanting an apology from the typically remorseless White on how he was treated in his last fight, it’s a lot of smoke with no fire.
Judging by the face value of his comments, though, it’s potentially more than that. The next chapter in this saga could be an interesting one.