I want to come clean about greasegate. I'm making this a bit of a crusade and here's why: I love MMA. Its the only sport I care about at all and in these dark economic times it actually gives my life a little bit of meaning and pleasure.
I've been meaning to write a series of essays called "MMA IS Sacred" for a little while now and I guess this incident will finally get me off my ass.
MMA is sacred because it's dangerous. Face it, injuries happen all the time and even death is a possibility in the cage. Like cliff diving, cave exploring, mountain climbing, football or parachuting, MMA is a sport that balances the possibility of awful risk against the possibility of great triumph.
MMA is sacred because it's clear. In a complicated world where we know we're getting screwed by somebody, but we can never quite figure out by whom, in MMA everyone knows what they're facing -- across the cage or ring is a very dangerous human being, intent on doing their worst. The pitfalls and triumphs of the fighters lets all of us who are trapped in more complicated circumstances against more nebulous foes live vicariously in a world where things are clear and make sense.
MMA is sacred because it has limitless possibilities. Its often said that MMA is to other combat sports as the great Chinese strategy game Go is to chess. While IBM computers can beat the best human chess players, they have yet to even be able to touch mediocre Go players. The complexity difference is that stark. Same thing with MMA. Fighters have to be prepared to face any technique from any sporting martial art. In the 16 years I've been watching this sport I've seen it evolve beyond anything I could have imagined and the reason I still love it is that its still evolving. Fighters like Lyoto Machida and Jon Jones, Shinya Aoki and Jorge Santiago, promising talents like Robert Drysdale and champions like Anderson Silva are all pushing the bounds of what even the most knowledgeable fan thought was possible. And yes, I'd include Georges St Pierre in that list, which is why I'm so bummed right now.
This doesn't have to do with B.J. Penn. This is about Georges St Pierre and Greg Jackson and the future of the sport.
I doubt many of you remember the dark ages of the UFC, back when Pat Militech was the lightweight champion.
I hated Pat Militech.
I respect him now for his contributions to the sport, but back in the day I booed my head off everytime he got near the cage.
Because his fights were utterly, painfully boring.
Pat is a master tactician and he wrung every advantage. He cut huge amounts of weight in an era when many fighters did not cut at all. He fought conservative gameplans, relying on his excellent wrestling to keep the fight standing and rarely taking the risks to go for a KO finish.
But one other thing really made me dislike Pat Militech: persistent rumors that he slathered himself in grease before and during fights.
And that's why I hate greasing. It ruins fights.
And if everyone does it we won't have MMA anymore, we'll have bad kickboxing.
I don't expect GSP and Greg Jackson and Phil Nurse to be punished for what they were caught doing by the NSAC.
I do expect that they be scrutinized heavily for what they've done in future fights because I don't want them to ever consider doing it again.
Georges St Pierre is a beautiful fighter. His skills, his willingness to learn, his strategies are things of beauty. But this taints him in my eyes. And that makes me sad. I've had a rough couple of years and watching GSP blossom has been a real bright spot in my life. No more.
As my colleague Brent Brookhouse IM'd me earlier (quoted with permission):
The thing that sucks is that a rematch does nothing. so there is no win here. Penn got his ass kicked and would have grease or not. GSP whopped that ass...but has the taint of the grease now. it is actually the one outcome that ruins the historic nature of that fight. which I almost wrote about but I just have no inspiration to write more about that situation
I saw a commenter earlier in one of our many threads on the topic say he didn't want to watch UFCs anymore after this. That the controversy had killed the high he felt Saturday. That's what cheating in a sacred arena like the octagon does, it kills the magic.
If we care about this sport, we have to be vigilant and ensure that no more great, epic, historical matchups are ruined by this kind of flagrant cheating.
As Ivan Trembow said:
Although the outcome of the fight would have likely been the same even if St. Pierre did have an advantage in Round 2, that does not make this a non-story. It has been amazing to see some people saying, "It didn’t affect the outcome of the fight, so it’s a non-issue that we should all stop talking about!" That is such backwards logic.
They are two different situations, but the stand-up agreement in the fight between Seth Petruzelli and Kimbo Slice didn’t affect the outcome of that fight because Petruzelli won by knockout anyway in 14 seconds. Were people saying after that fight, "It didn’t affect the outcome of the fight, so it’s a non-issue that we should all stop talking about"?
The role of the MMA blogosphere is to police the sport. We did a good job in StandGate and got Gary Shaw and $kala out of MMA. This is the same deal. Our goal: get vaseline out of the octagon.
Clearly we need rules changes. The rules we have now were largely written for boxing, that needs to change. Vaseline should probably only be applied to the eyebrows and to cuts, only in regulated amounts and only by cutmen working for the athletic commission.
Update: This unintentionally insightful quote from Cage Potato strikes me:
In order to believe that GSP has been greasing for the last three or four years -- against everyone from Matt Serra to Jason Miller -- you either have to believe that his trainers are some of the sneakiest Vaseline-applying jokers in the world (and they aren’t, obviously), or that the athletic commissions have been grossly incompetent in detecting it, if not downright complicit in allowing it.
Those explanations seem far-fetched, and yet the accusations keep coming. Somebody better go ask Pete Spratt if GSP felt greasy to him, too.
The only reason this came to light is because it was so grossly blatant that top UFC stars were outside the Octagon screaming at the commission.
The cumulative locker room talk of many bitter GSP opponents finally caught up with him and he got caught, red handed.
Greg Jackson apologized. So should GSP. But I really don't care if he does or not, as long as he never greases in a fight again.