Recent drug testing comments by former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and retorts from his former employers, particular UFC president Dana White and company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, have been front an center as the latest rift in the MMA world.
Now Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has jumped into the fray.
St-Pierre recently said, in part, he vacated his belt and stepped away from fighting because there wasn’t enough effort being put into strenuous drug testing for performance-enhancing substances in mixed martial arts, apparently casting much of the blame on a lack of support by his former employers.
“It bothered me greatly, [and] it was one of the reasons I decided to step aside,” he said in the Canadian Press.
UFC president Dana White responded following the recent UFC Fight Night 35, when he unloaded, seemingly befuddled by the remarks coming from his former champion.
“[It] obviously shocked me when he came out and said this,” said White in a post-fight interview on Fox Sports Live. “First of all, if everybody remembers, when Georges St-Pierre said that he wanted to come out and do this extra drug testing, it was so he could prove he wasn’t on drugs.
“He didn’t come out and say, hey, I want to do extra drug testing because I think that Johnny Hendricks is on drugs. Everybody’s been saying that they think that Georges St-Pierre’s been on it for years, so he wanted to prove that he wasn’t.”
St-Pierre, however, seemed to believe what he was doing was an effort to level the playing field in his sport, and felt more should have been done to support this efforts to make a change in drug testing in MMA.
“I tried to change things, and unfortunately, maybe for money reasons, maybe for image, they were not ready to do that,” said St-Pierre. “I tried to [bring about] change in a very diplomatic way and it didn’t work so it’s unfortunate, but I believe it will happen sooner or later.”
During a Monday conference call to promote Bellator’s upcoming season, Rebney was asked his thoughts on the St-Pierre/UFC rift that has developed, and having his own run-ins with the UFC, Rebney didn’t hold back.
“I do have an opinion on some of the comments that have been going back and forth [between GSP and the UFC],” he stated. “The UFC set the bar pretty high in the terms of tasteless comments, but they're recent comments about GSP are probably, in my mind, the most tasteless comments they've made in some time.
“I look at GSP as one of the greatest, most honorable champions our sport has ever seen,” he continued. “In my opinion, I don't think GSP owes us as fans anything and I don't think GSP the UFC anything. As we saw, based on the fallout from his last fight, he's given us as fans and the organization he fought for, he's given us everything.”
Rebney, of course, could have the motive of trying to keep a line open to St-Pierre in case his situation with the UFC continues to sour and Bellator eventually sees an opportunity to swoop in if St-Pierre decides to fight again. That, however, is not likely to be of any immediate concern, as St-Pierre is still currently under contract with the UFC. White has stated that St-Pierre’s contract is frozen until the point at which he decides to return, if he ever does.
Rebney, however, believes St-Pierre’s position atop the MMA world has earned a certain amount of credibility when he talks about issues in the sport where he sees fault.
“I think a lot of the issues that he raises and the points that he makes are good points,” said Rebney. “He's been a de facto ambassador for our game and a spokesman for the sport at an incredible high level for a long period of time and I put a lot of credence and credibility in what he's talking about.”