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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Detailed Summary of St. Pierre vs. Penn Vaseline Incidents, Including Possible Influence on Round 2
by Ivan Trembow
Much more information has come out in the past couple of days about the incidents in which vaseline was allegedly rubbed on Georges St. Pierre's back by one of his cornermen in between the rounds of his fight against BJ Penn at UFC 94 on Saturday night. Rubbing vaseline anywhere other than on a fighter's face would be illegal.
There has been a lot of noise on all sides of this issue, including from many fans (and even a few journalists) who are taking the “bury your head in the sand” mentality of just wanting this story to go away, regardless of whether or not any wrongdoing was committed.
The statements from Penn's side about what happened are naturally going to be slanted in one direction, and the statements from St. Pierre's side about what happened are naturally going to be slanted in the other direction.
This makes the quotes from Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, especially relevant because he's not on the Penn side or the St. Pierre side.
So, based on video evidence and numerous statements made by Kizer, here are the actual facts as we know them.
First of all, the video of the cornerman, Phil Nurse, rubbing St. Pierre's face with vaseline and then immediately thereafter rubbing St. Pierre's back is now on YouTube at this URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKuJSQJOiwM. This occurred between Rounds 1 and 2.
There is also confirmation in numerous interviews with Kizer that this was not the only time during the fight that vaseline appeared to be have been rubbed on St. Pierre's back by his cornerman. Kizer has said in multiple interviews that he saw it happen with his own eyes between Rounds 2 and 3, at which point he entered the cage and started yelling at St. Pierre's cornermen.
Here are quotes from MMAWeekly and Sherdog articles about the two separate vaseline incidents.
"After round two, I watched him like a hawk," said Kizer. "I've only entered the ring maybe three or four times (in my career) during a fight, but I did this time.
Watching the pay-per-view, Nurse is clearly seen on camera applying Vaseline to the face of St. Pierre following round one. It is difficult to tell the amount of residual Vaseline on his hands, but he does clearly rub St. Pierre's shoulders and then reach around to touch his upper back. The extent to which such actions affected the actual in-ring action are unclear, but what is clear is that such action was a violation Nevada's regulations.
"They didn't take a big glob and throw it on his back. After putting Vaseline on (St. Pierre's) face, he put his hands on his body. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it was improper," Kizer continued, who confirmed that an inspector did use a towel to wipe St. Pierre's back between rounds two and three, and three and four."
[Kizer said] “After the second round, we observed Mr. Jackson putting Vaseline on Mr. St. Pierre’s face and then putting his hand on his back.”
“I told them I was disappointed and that they may have tainted Mr. St. Pierre’s victory…Whether it was intentional or not, I don’t know. It was improper.”
An important detail that has come out in multiple interviews with Kizer is that while the first application of vaseline to St. Pierre's back appeared to happen between Rounds 1 and 2, it wasn't until after the second round that the NSAC intervened.
This would mean that if vaseline was applied to St. Pierre's back after Round 1, it would have still been on his back throughout Round 2.
There is confirmation of this important detail from Kizer in various interviews, but perhaps most clearly in this one from MMA Junkie in terms of the timeline of events:
[Kizer said] "The first round, one of the inspectors that was on the outside of the cage came over to me and said it looked to him that when the cornerman, who I think in that case was Phil Nurse, put the Vaseline on Georges’ face then rubbed his shoulders — which you see the guys rubbing the other guy’s shoulders to help him out — he didn’t wipe off his hands between doing that. I said, ‘Well, I’m going to watch very closely after this round.’”
Kizer watched intently to see if the questionable actions would be repeated as the second round came to a close.
“At the end of the second round I watched, and then another cornerman who I believe was Greg Jackson, he put the Vaseline on Georges’ face, and then he put his hand on his back to do the breathing thing they always do,” Kizer said. “As soon as I saw that, it looked like there was still some Vaseline on his hand. Not a lot, but still some.
“Tony Liano and I immediately yelled at him, and I don’t think he heard us because of the noise. So I actually went into the octagon, and I said, ‘Take your hand off of his back. What are you doing?’ We wiped it down. We made sure it was wiped down after the third round as well. This was after the second when I was in there. I was very upset. I don’t know if they were doing it intentionally or not. Either way, they shouldn’t have done it.
[Kizer said] "His cornerman should have been more careful if it was an accident. If it was intentional, that's even worse. Just very, very disturbing."
Now, with all of these facts and statements in mind, look at these five animated GIFs from the Underground Forum of five different times in Round 2 that Penn's legs slipped on St. Pierre's back while Penn was trying to utilize his rubber guard techniques from the bottom:
Again, Round 2 was after St. Pierre's cornerman rubbed his back immediately after applying vaseline to his face; and Round 2 was also before the athletic commission intervened to towel off St. Pierre's back, which did not happen until after Round 2.
Based on all the facts, quotes, and video evidence, it does look like it COULD have aided St. Pierre in Round 2. I don't think the outcome of the fight would have been any different, but as for whether it COULD have aided St. Pierre in Round 2, the video evidence is pretty overwhelming that it could have.
Although the outcome of the fight would have likely been the same even if St. Pierre did have an advantage in Round 2, that does not make this a non-story. It has been amazing to see some people saying, "It didn't affect the outcome of the fight, so it's a non-issue that we should all stop talking about!" That is such backwards logic.
They are two different situations, but the stand-up agreement in the fight between Seth Petruzelli and Kimbo Slice didn't affect the outcome of that fight because Petruzelli won by knockout anyway in 14 seconds. Were people saying after that fight, "It didn't affect the outcome of the fight, so it's a non-issue that we should all stop talking about"? Of course not, and if they were, that would have been an equally ridiculous argument.
As for where this goes from here, there is a possibility of fines and/or suspensions for any of St. Pierre's cornermen that the athletic commission deems to have broken the rules.
Perhaps just as significantly, St. Pierre's brilliant performance in the fight may be tainted in some fans' eyes. As Kizer said in his interview with MMA Junkie, "This may have tainted [St. Pierre's] victory in the eyes of many fans, and it's his cornerman's fault for that. It doesn't take away his victory, but it does take away from his victory in the eyes of many fans, I believe."
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 94 Thoughts
by Ivan Trembow
As usual, Georges St. Pierre and Lyoto Machida looked like machines, in this case by dominating B.J. Penn and Thiago Silva, respectively. The best sporting event of the weekend was on Saturday, not on Super Bowl Sunday.
Machida Deserves Title Shot in Next Fight: Machida is long overdue for a title shot and he absolutely deserves to get the next shot at Rashad Evans' belt, not the winner of the upcoming fight between Quinton Jackson and Keith Jardine.
Update: Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that it will be Jackson who will be getting the next title shot, not Machida, provided that Jackson beats Jardine. He said that Machida will “probably” get a title shot by the end of 2009. At this point, the continual snubbing of Machida is just pathetic.
St. Pierre vs. Penn: In the GSP-Penn fight, Penn showed up to fight and looked to be in good shape, but GSP was simply too good.
For all the hype that went into this fight as two all-time greats with both of them at their absolute peak, Penn’s peak in terms of accomplishments was not beating Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, and Sean Sherk in the three-fight winning streak that he had going into this fight. Realistically, Penn's peak in terms of accomplishments was beating the #1 lightweight in the world and then beating the #1 welterweight in the world, and that was in late 2003 and early 2004, not in 2008 and 2009.
St. Pierre has Thiago Alves next on his plate, although if Jon Fitch could take down Alves at will like he did, then I’m guessing St. Pierre will also be able to take Alves down at will.
Vaseline Controversy in St. Pierre's Corner: According to this report on Cage Potato: "B.J. Penn's camp has filed a formal complaint with the Nevada State Athletic Commission over Vaseline that was allegedly rubbed on Georges St. Pierre's back between rounds one and two. UFC president Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that he was aware of the complaint, and said he personally witnessed members of the commission take the Vaseline away from GSP's camp and rebuke them in the Octagon between rounds."
White was also quoted as saying that the Nevada State Athletic Commission was "flipping out" about it and was "screaming" at St. Pierre's cornermen about it.
I am in shock about this. I would imagine that if this had been anything other than a huge fight, the fighter who got vaseline put on his back would have been disqualified on the spot, although I don't know that for sure.
I wish we could have seen what actually happened... how much vaseline was applied, who applied it, what the commission did, etc. The UFC has cameras in both corners in between every round, and it sounds like it would have been a big commotion, but the UFC apparently decided not to show the incident during the fight or after the fight, unless they did and I missed it.
Update: From looking at the tape, it was hard to see too much because the director kept cutting away every time vaseline would be on-screen or a towel would be on-screen. However, you can clearly see that one of GSP's trainers rubs his back between Rounds 1 and 2. You can't see in the shot whether the trainer has anything on this hands, but you can see that he is using the same hand that was just applying vaseline to GSP's face seconds earlier, and that is on the tape clear as day.
The athletic commission "flipping out" can be seen on the tape between Rounds 2 and 3. You can see as the round was about to start that one of the NSAC inspectors was thrown a towel and gave St. Pierre's back a very brief rub-down in the seconds right before Round 3 started. Then, between Rounds 3 and 4, it looks like St. Pierre's back got a much more thorough rub-down with towels. Again, it's hard to determine more from this because the director kept cutting away from it.
Zach Arnold also wrote about this on Fight Opinion: "If the NSAC agrees that indeed rules were violated, it will immediately taint St. Pierre’s dominant win over Penn. I realize and you realize that St. Pierre put on a dominant performance, but Penn’s camp has a perfectly legitimate gripe here if the accusations of vaseline usage (in this manner) are true. While Dana White tried to soften the blow of the allegations about possible illegal vaseline usage on St. Pierre, the fact that White is trying to deflect all the heat for the incident on a cornerman and not on St. Pierre is unacceptable."
Fights Going the Distance is Not Necessarily Bad: A lot of people online are complaining about UFC 94 because of the high number of fights that went the distance of three rounds. I don’t think that most fights going to a decision automatically makes an event worse than if most fights end quickly. Even with the one-sided main event, I thought this event was better than the recent UFC event with a bunch of quick finishes that most people said was a great event because of all the quick finishes (UFC 91).
Another Curious Decision for Fight of the Night: Seriously, Clay Guida vs. Nate Diaz gets a Fight of the Night award? And last month, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Mark Coleman did? And the month before that, Junie Browning vs. David Kaplan did? There were more deserving fights on all three of those events.