As we mentioned earlier today, BJ Penn’s camp is in the process of filing a complaint with the NSAC alleging GSP’s corner was applying a “greasing” agent to his back and shoulders in between rounds.
Obviously, this wasn’t something they’re too happy about, and apparently this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Here’s BJ’s head trainer Rudy Valentino’s thoughts on the situation, via InsideFighting.com.
“To cheat to win is not honorable…Why need another edge? Our gameplan was on the ground, not striking because we knew Georges had good kicks. We planned to work off the back.”
But according to the coach, Penn’s game plan was disrupted by illegal tactics employed by St. Pierre and his team. Valentino says that Penn’s corner told Nevada State Athletic Commission officials to pay special attention to whether or not St. Pierre’s team would apply an extra “greasing” agent to the fighter before or during the fight because “that happened before during their first fight,” Valentino says. “And Matt Serra’s camp told us it happened during theirs and told us to watch for it.”
Penn’s coach says that the purpose of the complaint is to simply make sure such an alleged “greasing” does not take place again, not to in some way cast a shadow over St. Pierre’s win. “No, nothing like that. [St. Pierre] was the better man but don’t cheat to win. It’s not good.”
“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 waned them…“I respect Greg Jackson but to do something like that, his integrity has been compromised.” Valentino says of St. Pierre’s coach.”
Between claims made by different camps and a few questionable, but inconclusive, animated gifs from past fights in this UG thread, it definitely seems there might be something more to this than just one inadvertent occurrence. If a cornerman puts a glob of Vaseline on the top his hand, swipes it with his other and rubs it on the fighter’s face, then immediately rubs the fighter’s back, he has to know that’s a violation of the rules. Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, he didn’t realize what he was doing, but if it’s happening every fight, I find it hard to believe he’s not aware of his actions.
The bottom line is adding a “greasing” agent to the fighter’s back, shoulders, and/or arms is giving him an unfair advantage, especially against an elite-level jiu-jitsu expert like Penn. It can certainly render his grappling efforts ineffective if friction is nonexistent. It’s definitely an offense the NSAC needs to not only look into but also determine a way to prevent it from happening in the future. As Fightlinker suggested, how about only allowing the cutmen to handle the Vaseline? They aren’t massaging anything but the knots and cuts on the fighter’s face.
All that said, even if some believe it taints GSP’s victory, I still don’t think the outcome of the fight would have been any different. Georges St. Pierre made BJ Penn look average at best last night. He’s clearly the superior fighter at 170lbs, and proved BJ belongs in the lightweight division. The situation and the individuals involved need to be dealt with properly, but I don’t think it means GSP isn’t everything we think he is.
[UPDATE 2/2/09 11:25AM ET] – It appears BJ’s camp has decided not to file a formal complaint with the NSAC, according to Josh Gross.
Late Sunday, Penn’s representatives decided against filing the complaint, which has already been drawn up by the Hawaiian’s family attorney, first thing Monday, a reaction perhaps to some initial communication between the camps. Distance from the fight will also yield breathing room to make a decision on the rest of his career. But considering how his fight transpired, and with the apparent controversy over tactics in St. Pierre’s corner, Valentino believes Penn could have a change of heart.
Apparently, there was also talk of BJ not fighting again, especially if he had won. It looks to be up in the air at the moment, but I seriously seriously doubt Saturday night was the last time we’ll see BJ Penn fight, even if he had won.
[UPDATE 2/2/09 6:25PM ET] – BJ changed his mind again. Original update deleted. See new post for more info.