'No Contest' Unlikely in GSP-Penn Dispute

By Loretta Hunt Mar 17, 2009
Those looking for fireworks at the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s hearing on Tuesday to review allegations of greasing misconduct during the UFC welterweight title bout between Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn might be disappointed.

The bout, which saw St. Pierre triumph after four rounds via a technical knockout at UFC 94 on Jan. 31, couldn’t be altered to a “no contest,” nor could any of the alleged figures be suspended on Tuesday without further proceedings, said NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer.

St. Pierre’s two cornermen, Phil Nurse and Greg Jackson, have been accused of improperly applying Vaseline to the fighter’s shoulders and back after the one-minute break between the first and second round of his championship contest on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas. A NSAC official was the first one to bring the questionable behavior to Kizer’s attention at cageside.

Penn’s camp added fuel to the fire last Monday when the Hawaiian’s attorney filed a 20-page complaint with the commission requesting that St. Pierre and “co-conspirator” cornermen Nurse and Jackson have their licenses suspended or revoked, and that the three be fined. The complaint followed an inquiry letter submitted by Penn’s attorneys on Feb. 3, while St. Pierre’s camp responded to the allegations via letter on Feb. 26.

However, Penn’s recent complaint, which was written in a legal style similar to a lawsuit, will not serve to stimulate any formal disciplinary proceedings on Tuesday against the accused trio, said Kizer.

Kizer said Penn and his representatives have no authority to file a disciplinary complaint against a fellow combatant per Nevada’s statutes.

“That’s my job,” said Kizer. “You can complain to me, small ‘c,’ and then it’s up to me as the executive director whether I’ll file a disciplinary complaint. I explained that to [Penn’s attorney] many times and I thought he understood.”

Kizer, who began his own inquiry into the bout’s between-round behavior the night of the fight, said he hasn’t and doesn’t plan to file a complaint against St. Pierre and his camp at this time. Kizer added that Penn’s camp would have to provide hard evidence to support their allegations that St. Pierre and his camp conspired to cheat, in order to sway the executive director.

Kizer, who became the NSAC’s executive director in April 2006, has filed only one other non-drug related complaint against a mixed martial artist during his tenure. In August 2007, Kizer filed a disciplinary complaint against Renato “Babalu” Sobral for not responding to the referee’s instruction to release a choke during his fight against David Heath at UFC 74. The Brazilian was subsequently fined his win bonus, which was $25,000. Sobral was not suspended.

Kizer said a commission member could step down from the judicial branch of the board and prosecute a case themselves, although that has rarely taken place.

The five-member commission will receive copies of Penn’s complaint, as well as the two separate documents previously submitted, said Kizer, only with respect to what is on the commission’s Tuesday agenda, which is to review the fight.

Upon review of the documents on Tuesday, Kizer said a commission member could move to suggest disciplinary action, which would set the wheels in motion for a disciplinary hearing at a later date.

Kizer said it his interpretation that Nevada statutes currently don’t support the commission having the jurisdiction to adjust the results of the bout to a “no contest” given the specific circumstances. Kizer said a bout can only be ruled a “no contest” on four different occasions: the scorecards were added incorrectly, collusion occurred (where a referee was paid off), the referee misinterpreted a rule that effected the outcome, or there was the use of non-approved drugs or steroids.

“The main thing here [for Tuesday’s hearing] is let’s see what happened in the fight and let’s find out what happened from Phil [Nurse] and Greg [Jackson], what happened and why it happened, “ said Kizer. “Secondly, let’s figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Now whether it goes beyond that is up to the commissioners -- and it may or may not.”

Kizer’s expectations are a bit tamer though.

“What I see happening is something along these lines: a very strict warning to Phil, a warning to everybody that there’s no place for this, and maybe something [determined] along the lines that every corner can have one designated Vaseline guy and that guy can not touch the fighter anywhere else on his body, except for his face, until the end of the fight,” said Kizer.

The commission meets Tuesday morning in Las Vegas at 9 a.m. PST.
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