Weighing in on the decimal debacle: The St-Pierre/Diaz saga is far from over

March 26, 2013

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Weighing in on the decimal debacle: The St-Pierre/Diaz saga is far from over



John Boldrick –  There once was a time when weigh ins weren’t all that interesting. It was just a necessary activity before a fight. That has changed.

Now, weigh ins bring in big money. Fans pack arena one day before the actual fights to see all of the stare downs, scuffles and surprises from their favourite fighters. Have a fight that needs more promoting? If the fighters have a Diego Sanchez/Clay Guida type of moment, problem solved.

With the change also comes controversy. Some of it can be good, for example the Vitor Belfort/Anderson Silva weigh in at UFC 126 almost saw a massive brawl break out. The two fights got nose to nose as fans soaked it all up. It brought an extra edge to the fight. A little “Hey, these guys actually hate each other” if you will. That’s best case scenario when it comes to controversy. Unfortunately, fighting, much like life itself, isn’t always perfect.

Friday, March 15 markedthe weigh ins for UFC 158. It seemed it would like any other weigh ins; the fighters hit the scales one by one. They the posed off with their opponents. This carried on throughout the preliminary fights and main card, just like every other event. Sure, there might be a few on stage antics, but pretty normal overall.

Before the weigh in started Michael Mersch, UFC vice-president of business and legal affairs chatted with title challenger Nick Diaz and members of his entourage.  Mersch told Diaz that as long as he came in under 171 pounds, his weight would be counted as 170. Whether Diaz weighed 170.1 or 170.9, it would still officially be 170. As Mersch put it “they don’t count the decimal place”.

He also mentioned that an extra hour would be permitted to the title fight participants for making weight. Mersch mentioned no other fighters would have this luxury. When questioned as to why this had not been mentioned before, Mersch, after some time said that it was “an off the record thing”.

The meeting was on video. That video hit the public, and has created some controversy for the UFC. Questions abound; Did Georges St-Pierre have trouble making weight? Was the rule in place to help the champion? What was the response from Diaz? Why did Mersch not tell Diaz earlier?

First off let’s look at the rule itself. It’s rare for athletic commissions to not look at the decimal point, but it is truth. The Quebec athletic commission confirmed that they don’t in fact check after the period. All weights are recorded as the full number, making Quebec’s commission one of the only ones in North America to do so. A representative from the commission said that they have done things that way for many years.

Ariel Helwani reported that he was told that the commissions wouldn’t look at the decimal place for main event fighters only. Looking back at all of the events in Montreal, the only one to feature fighters with decimal points in their weight was UFC 83 (St-Pierre versus Matt Serra). That event was in 2008. It’s possible that the rule was adopted sometime between then and now. It’s strange that they would only not look at the decimal place for main event fighters though.

It’s hard to say if St-Pierre had trouble making weight for the fight. He admitted to feeling sluggish in the third round of the fight. It’s also come out that the champion had an Achilles injury coming into the fight. The injury has been deemed to not be serious, but it could have affected his preparation. If the injury is more serious than we’re being told, it easily could have hurt his training and conditioning for the fight.

As for why Mersch waited to tell Diaz of this rule, who knows? Mersch himself knows, but he isn’t talking. It seems like the type of thing that fighters should know about beforehand. It could have also been a simple mistake. Maybe Mersch forgot to let Diaz know the night before? Maybe it was originally someone else’s responsibility? We don’t have answers to these questions.

What we do have answers for is the next step for Diaz. The Diaz camp has made a statement that they are very disappointed that the fight was not conducted according to the bout agreement. They have also made allegations that St-Pierre’s post fight drug test was not properly supervised. Finally, Diaz gave GSP a choice:  Either give him a rematch at 170 pounds, or give up the belt and let two welterweight fighters battle for it.

St-Pierre’s response is yet to be seen. One thing is certain though, if Diaz was able to talk himself into the first fight, imagine what this will do.

Follow John Boldrick on Twitter @JohnBJournalism

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