by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
In the wake of controversy surrounding the actions of Georges St. Pierre’s cornermen at UFC 94, B.J. Penn’s legal counsel has requested a “comprehensive investigation” from the Nevada State Athletic Commission on the second battle between the MMA superstars.
In a letter filed with the commission shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Penn’s lawyer, Raffi Nahabedian, said St. Pierre’s improper use of Vaseline during the fight prevented Penn from a fair contest and put him in a potentially dangerous situation.
“This illegal situation made it impossible for Mr. Penn to defend himself and unfairly exposed Mr. Penn to GSP’s ‘ground and pound’ strategy, which Mr. Penn extensively trained for and was fully prepared to perform against,” the letter states. “More importantly, by neutralizing Mr. Penn’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu abilities through the use of illegal and improper means, Mr. Penn was subjected to a life threatening and career ending environment; an environment that the Commission was formed to protect against.”
Penn spent much of the third and fourth rounds of their encounter on his back, as St. Pierre dealt out a vicious ground and pound attack. St. Pierre won the superfight after a ringside doctor examined Penn and the fighter’s corner agreed that he should not continue following the end of the fourth round.
Between the second and third rounds, officials from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, including executive director Keith Kizer, approached St. Pierre’s corner after an commission inspector noticed that the welterweight champion’s cornerman, after applying Vaseline to his face, touched St. Pierre’s shoulders and back. The officials subsequently wiped Georges St. Pierre down with a towel and checked him again between the third and fourth rounds.
At the post-fight press conference for the fight, UFC president Dana White condemned the actions of St. Pierre’s cornermen. St. Pierre’s chief second and trainer, Greg Jackson, on Sunday said a procedure meant to boost St. Pierre’s energy was misconstrued by commission officials and there was no intentional misuse of the lubricant.
In an interview with SI.com, St. Pierre steadfastly denied any charges he was cheating.
“I have nothing to hide,” he said. “I’m not even afraid to go into court and fight that.”
According to Nevada Athletic Commission regulation 467.598, “the excessive use of grease or any other foreign substance may not be used on the face or body of an unarmed combatant.”
Mr. Nahabedian said the letter was not a formal complaint, but a “request that the Commission will perform its duties to ensure that the activities of GSP and his agents are properly dealt with by the Commission.” Penn’s brother, J.D. Penn, on Sunday told Sherdog.com that a formal complaint would be filed with the commission on Monday.
Keith Kizer, Executive Director for the NSAC, said he has obtained a copy of the fight from the UFC featuring a camera dedicated to GSP’s corner between the first, second, and third rounds. A copy of Mr. Nahabedian’s letter will be sent to the “principal cornermen” of St. Pierre on Thursday. The cornermen will be given 20 days, from the time they receive the letter, to respond.
“This gives them more of a full opportunity to let them have their side of it as well,” he said.
Kizer said he and NSAC chairman Bill Brady will decide whether to pursue the matter at a commission meeting after reviewing the tape and the cornermen’s response. In theory, St. Pierre’s seconds could face disciplinary action if any impropriety is found. Rule 467.628 of the Nevada Athletic Code states that the commission “shall hold the chief second responsible for the conduct of the assistant seconds during the progress of the contest or exhibition.”
Penn’s camp has until Feb. 10 to file a formal complaint.