THE CANADIAN PRESS
LONDON — UFC president Dana White says Canadian fighter Georges St. Pierre was illegally greased during his UFC 94 win over B.J. Penn last month.
"Do I think that he got greased? Yeah, I do," White told The Canadian Press prior to the UFC 95 weigh-in Friday at the Dominion Theatre. "Absolutely, 100 per cent, I think that that guy was rubbing grease on him.
"Do I think Georges was trying to cheat? Absolutely not at all. But that cornerman was rubbing grease on him. You cannot do that."
St. Pierre’s TKO win Jan. 31 in Las Vegas has been tainted by allegations from the Penn camp that the Canadian had an unfair advantage by being rubbed with Vaseline between rounds. Penn, through his lawyer, has asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission to investigate.
St. Pierre’s corner has denied any wrongdoing, saying any transfer of Vaseline was accidental when cornerman Phil Nurse — GSP’s Muay Thai coach — was rubbing his back between rounds doing an "energy technique" to help breathing.
"If there was any Vaseline left on his hand after he put it on my face, it was unintentional, and I do not believe it made the slightest difference in the outcome of the fight," the Montreal fighter said in a statement after the fight.
White says the greasing was "no different" than the illegal wraps discovered on the hands of boxer Antonio Margarito prior to his recent fight against Miguel Cotto. Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, both had their licences revoked for at least a year by the California State Athletic Commission.
"You put another fighter at a huge disadvantage, which is very dangerous," White said.
The Penn complaint could lead to disciplinary action against Nurse but it is unlikely GSP or the fight result will be affected.
Asked if the GSP cornerman was cheating, White replied: "I think he was. I do. I think he absolutely, positively knew that he was rubbing grease on him. I do. Nobody can tell me different. I watched the tape a million times."
Fighters are checked by an official before they get in the cage. A cutman also smears a small amount of Vaseline on the face to help prevent cuts.
If a fighter is cut, the cutman enters the cage between rounds to work on it. If there is no cut, he stays outside and a cornermen reapplies Vaseline to the face, since it rubs off during the exchange of blows. Applying it anywhere else is illegal.
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada commission, said one of his inspectors came to him after the first round to say that Nurse had rubbed St. Pierre’s shoulders and upper arms, transferring Vaseline.
Kizer, sitting at the commission table cageside, then entered the cage after the second round and asked the GSP corner to wipe down the fighter. The commission ordered the same thing after the third round "just to play it safe."
The fight was stopped after the fourth round on the advice of the ring doctor, and with the agreement of the Penn corner.
Penn continues to argue that the Vaseline helped decide the fight, recently posting a six-minute video on his website www.bjpenn.com detailing the incident.
White said it was unfortunate GSP’s dominant win was overshadowed by the cornerman controversy.
"He didn’t have to put grease on him. … Georges St. Pierre was winning the fight, he was dominant in the standup and on the ground. To have a fight or a fighter like St. Pierre tainted over a stupidity, I hate it. It sucks."
But White rubbished talk of a rematch, saying Penn would remain at 155 pounds.
"Size matters in this sport. It didn’t a few years ago. It does now."
St. Pierre retained his welterweight title with the win since the fight was contested at 170 pounds. Penn remains the lightweight champion.
UFC 95 WEIGH-INS: All 20 fighters made weight Friday ahead of UFC 95, taking place at the O2 Arena in London, England (live on Sportsnet in HD on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT).
In particular Diego (Nightmare) Sanchez, who is making his debut at lightweight, weighed in at 156, right on the limit. It was all he could do to get down to the weight he needed.
Sanchez (19-2) was late for the previous week’s conference call because he said he “was in the sauna trying to get some extra weight.
"This (weight) hasn’t been easy, " Sanchez admitted.
A normal welterweight, Sanchez, who claimed to weigh 193 pounds on Christmas Eve, said he decided to go down to 155 because "it’s a challenge."
He and his opponent Joe Stevenson, who hit the scale on the number, each have two losses in their past four fights.
VISIONS OF GRANDEUR: White says the UFC will make an even bigger splash in Ontario than it has in Quebec once the sport is sanctioned there.
"When we go into Toronto I swear to God I think it’s going to be the biggest event we’ve ever done and the fastest-selling event ever. Toronto’s going to be insane."
The UFC is looking at the Rogers Centre as a possible venue.
"And I’m going to do Toronto right. When we get it, we’re going to do a serious, serious card in Toronto. It’s going to be big."