Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Sun Special Coverage
No one from B.J. Penn’s fight team filed an official complaint to the Nevada State Athletic Commission over illegal tactics utilized by Georges St. Pierre’s corner in the Canadian’s victory over Penn Saturday night at UFC 94, said NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer late Monday afternoon.
However, Kizer said the commission has already warned St. Pierre’s camp of their misconduct of inappropriately rubbing Vaseline on St. Pierre’s back, shoulders and chest in what mixed martial arts fans are referring to as “Grease-Gate.”
“They haven’t filed anything yet, but they could still do so in the next few days. We’ve already begun looking very closely at the situation,” said Kizer, who doubted that St. Pierre’s dominating victory would be protested because of the issue.
“The penalty for a licensee who violates commission rules can be a fine, or suspension, or revocation. How far this will go? I don’t know.”
Vaseline is used to aid with cuts in boxing and MMA, but applying to other parts of the body inside the octagon is illegal as wrestling and various holds are vital. A slippery fighter would have an added advantage, as grip and friction would be compromised.
That is exactly what Penn’s camp claimed kept the UFC lightweight champ from utilizing his signature Jiu-Jitsu skills.
“To cheat to win is not honorable,” Penn’s coach Rudy Valentino told InsideFighting Sunday morning shortly before heading home to Hawaii. “Why need another edge? Our game plan was on the ground, not striking because we knew Georges had good kicks. We planned to work off the back.
“We just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again to someone else. It is not good for the sport. For their camp to be busted doing something bad like that, to be busted doing it and then to keep doing it after the referee had warned them … I respect Greg Jackson but to do something like that, his integrity has been compromised,” Valentino said of St. Pierre’s coach.
The issue arose when St. Pierre cornerman Phil Nurse rubbed the UFC welterweight champ’s shoulders and chest with his hands that had just applied Vaseline to St. Pierre’s face between the first and second rounds.
"The first round, one of the inspectors that was on the outside of the cage came over to me and said it looked to him that when the cornerman, who I think in that case was Phil Nurse, put the Vaseline on Georges' face then rubbed his shoulders — which you see the guys rubbing the other guy's shoulders to help him out —he didn't wipe off his hands between doing that. I said, 'Well, I'm going to watch very closely after this round,'" Kizer told MMAjunkie.com.
"At the end of the second round I watched, and then another cornerman who I believe was Greg Jackson, he put the Vaseline on Georges' face, and then he put his hand on his back to do the breathing thing they always do. As soon as I saw that, it looked like there was still some Vaseline on his hand. Not a lot, but still some.
"Tony Liano and I immediately yelled at him, and I don't think he heard us because of the noise,” continued Kizer. “So I actually went into the octagon, and I said, 'Take your hand off of his back. What are you doing?' We wiped it down. We made sure it was wiped down after the third round as well. This was after the second when I was in there. I was very upset. I don't know if they were doing it intentionally or not. Either way, they shouldn't have done it."
While UFC president Dana White said he felt the Vaseline didn’t change the outcome of the fight, the point was it was an illegal action.
"You could have put Vaseline on from head to toe, that wasn't the point, the point was you don't do it. It's illegal,” White said. “The guy who did it needs to be punished, it's not (St. Pierre's) fault. The question is what happens to a guy that does that. You've got to put the smack down on him.
"If a guy was intentionally putting Vaseline on a guy's back, he should never corner a mixed martial arts fight again."
Jackson downplayed the incident on Sunday saying St. Pierre didn’t need any help.
“The whole greasing thing is pretty ridiculous,” Jackson told mmaweekly.com. “If we were trying to grease the back we’d be greasing up and down, we would make it count. We wouldn’t do a little tiny spot in the back.
“You can’t grease somebody up. You just couldn’t do it. They check your body before you get into the cage, there’s an inspector right there. In order for us to grease him up, it would be insane. There are cameras everywhere. We don’t cheat. We don’t need to cheat to win.”
Kizer said he felt an “avoidable incident” has cast a negative cloud on arguably the biggest night in the sport’s history.
“I think it definitely hurts St. Pierre a little bit because people will always wonder if it had any impact or not,” he said.
“I don’t think it had much of one, but it shouldn’t have happened at all. Obviously it’s illegal and definitely unfortunate to Penn and also unfortunate to St. Pierre.”
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.