Former UFC welterweight Georges St. Pierre announced he’d be taking a break from the grueling sport of MMA following his closely-contested showdown with Johny Hendricks — which he won via split decision– last November, and it still isn’t clear what exactly pushed him to make the move.
What was clear was the fact UFC president Dana White wasn’t happy with GSP’s decision. White gave the greatest welterweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history a verbal whipping at the UFC 167 post-fight press conference, saying things like: “You owe it to the promotion [to stay and defend the title], “this is his job,” and “It doesn’t work like that.”
Thus, GSP has been extremely careful with his words when talking about his decision to walk away from mixed martial arts (at least for a year), but his boxing coach, Freddie Roach, wasn’t as diplomatic during a recent interview with FightHub.TV.
“You know, it’s really easy to make a decision after a tough fight like that and after Dana talking really bad about him, getting him depressed a little bit and so forth, dragging him down,” Roach said. “Most promoters would try to build you back up, but Dana’s not that kind of cat.”
Like many MMA fans, Roach didn’t appreciate the way Dana lashed out at St. Pierre during the UFC 167 post-fight press conference.
“I was a little bit mad at Dana for doing that,” Roach explained. “I think I’d go to another company if that was me, but the UFC has a monopoly, it’s the only game in town. I’m sure if he wants to come back, Dana will be the first one to invite him.”
How long GSP decides to stay away from MMA remains to be seen, and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be back.
“He told me he wanted to take two years off and I told him two years is retirement,” Roach explained. “Let’s stick with one year right now and we’ll see how you’re feeling after a year. If you feel hungry enough to get back in there, we’ll do it. If not, we’ll call it a day. Georges is a great guy, and I just want him to make the right decision at the right time.”
Roach has valid points, and it’s easy to see how a fighter could simply get tired of dealing with an overbearing boss like Dana. The fact the UFC is clearly a few steps ahead of all other MMA organizations in the world right now makes it easier for the outspoken promoter to get away with his brash behavior.
Still, in defense of the UFC, when one of your competitors — Bellator — is backed by a multibillion-dollar corporation like Viacom, the word “monopoly” might not be appropriate.
The UFC simply has a better product than its competition, which gets them more recognition from the mainstream media, making it the most attractive option for MMA fighters looking to build their brand.
However, regardless of how attractive the UFC is to those who are committed to making a living in the crazy world of MMA, the unprofessional behavior of the most recognizable member of the promotion’s brass, will continue to push away all those who have the option of competing in more developed sports that have so much more to offer, minus the public floggings for defying the bosses.
That reality isn’t good for the future of MMA.