On November 16, 2013, Georges St-Pierre defended his UFC welterweight title for the ninth consecutive time. The win, a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks in front of a reported crowd of 14,856 fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena gave the Canadian the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC welterweight history. After the fight, which served as the headliner of the UFC 167 pay-per-view card, UFC president Dana White raged against St-Pierre — among others.
White was curt from the start of the post-fight press conference.
When asked about the main event bout, White said he thought Hendricks should have had his hand raised in victory.
“I’m blown away that Georges St-Pierre won that fight,” said White. “Listen, I’m a promoter. He’s the biggest pay-per-view star on the (expletive) planet for me and I still don’t think he won that fight.”
The judges who had the fight for St-Pierre were Sal D’amato and Tony Weeks. Those two gentlemen scored the bout 48-47 for St-Pierre. Glenn Trowbridge was the dissenting judge. He had the scrap 48-47 for Hendricks.
“I want what’s fair and that wasn’t fair,” White continued before taking his beef to the overseers of the fights at the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night.
“I think the Nevada State Athletic Commission is atrocious,” White said. “I think the governor needs to step in immediately before these guys destroy this sport like they did boxing.”
“I think the Nevada State Athletic Commission is atrocious. I think the governor needs to step in immediately before these guys destroy this sport like they did boxing.”
White’s anger brought cheers from some in attendance.
The UFC president seemed most offended by the fact the judges scored the fight for St-Pierre.
The next question for White, and perhaps the underlying source of White’s anger toward the NSAC and the scoring, was what he thought about what he heard from St-Pierre after the referee raised the champion’s hand in victory.
After the win, which was his 12th straight victory and moved St-Pierre to 25-2 overall, the welterweight champion told UFC commentator Joe Rogan that fans wouldn’t see him for a while.
St-Pierre, his face a red, lumpy, swollen mess, said, “Listen everyone, there was a lot of talk about what was going to happen. I have a bunch of stuff in my life happening. I need to hang up my gloves for a little bit, at least, make a point on my life.”
Rogan asked if St-Pierre was retiring. To which the champion replied, “I have to go away for a little bit, at least. (I have) personal things happening and I want to say thank you from the bottom of heart to the UFC and everyone for their support.”
In a case of saying the quiet part a little too loud, White addressed St-Pierre’s words at the post-fight press conference. The UFC boss sounded less like a promoter and more like a demented despot when he excoriated St-Pierre’s decision to pause his career.
“He didn’t say he was going to retire,” White said. “He said I’m going to take some time off. You don’t just say, ‘Hey I’m going to take some time off, maybe I’ll be back, maybe I won’t.’ You owe it to the fans, you owe it to that belt, you owe it to this company, and you owe it to Johny Hendricks to give him that opportunity to fight again, unless you’re going to retire.”
“There’s no, ‘Hey listen, I’m going to go on a cruise and I’m going to be gone for two years. I’m going to take a hiatus. I’m going to take a leave of absence. Whatever the hell it was he was saying, that’s not how it works,” White continued.
St-Pierre arrived late into the post-fight press conference after getting stitched up. The defending champion filled in a few more details about his need for a break.
“I can’t sleep at night, man,” St-Pierre said. “I’m going crazy. I have issues and I need to get out for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
“I feel like I’m leaving everything out now, but I need to leave part of my life personal. I need to get out for a little bit, and that’s it.”
St-Pierre also addressed White’s criticism.
“I understand from their point of view,” St-Pierre said. “It’s bad for them if I leave like this. Like I said, I need to make a point.”
During his rant against the welterweight titleholder, White seemed to forget that St-Pierre and all the other UFC fighters were not and are not employees of the UFC. They are independent contractors and as such, it is up to St-Pierre — or any other UFC competitor — to decide if and when they are going to take a break. Yes, the UFC can, at that point, release them, strip them of a title if they hold one or pause their contract, but what they cannot do is tell them they “owe it to the company” to stick around when they don’t want to.
To quote White, “that’s not how it works” if you are an independent contractor.
For all his bluster at the UFC 167 post-fight press conference, White did not strip St-Pierre of the belt. Instead, St-Pierre vacated the title in mid-December during a media call.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time,” St-Pierre said. “I have 22 fights in the UFC, and 15 were for a world title. I’ve been fighting a long time at a high level, a lot of pressure and criticizing. I’ve decided I needed to take some time off.”
“The UFC is a business,” he said. “I’m vacating my title out of respect for the other competitors.”
St-Pierre didn’t return to the octagon again until November 2017, when he defeated Michael Bisping for the middleweight crown. St-Pierre vacated that title shortly after his victory because of medical issues associated with gaining the weight to compete at 185 pounds.
There has been some talk of St-Pierre matching up against Khabib Nurmagomedov, but those talks have never produced a scheduled bout.
Looking back on the night of November 16, 2013, White’s comments directed toward the NSAC and St-Pierre still come off as bombastic and bullying and St-Pierre still looks like what he was seen as during his lengthy title reign — a champion who did his best to elevate himself above the ugliness that the sport of MMA often becomes mired in.
About the author