UFC 129 St-Pierre vs Shields on April 30, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photos from Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) via UFC.com
Coming out of today's bombshell announcement that Carlos Condit would be replacing Nick Diaz to face Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight title at UFC 137, several questions immediately began to surface. One of the big ones - how would Greg Jackson, trainer to both St. Pierre and Condit, handle this situation?
Now, just a few hours after the big news, we have our answer. Jackson will not train or corner either man. He spoke to Ariel Helwani at MMA Fighting to clarify:
Teammate protocols are pretty clear in this situation so everybody knows what happening. I step out, the other coaches -- John [Danaher], Phil [Nurse] and Firas [Zahabi] -- will take care of GSP and probably [Mike] Winkeljohn and some of the other guys here will take care of Carlos. But I step out of it, so I won't be cornering either guy. They'll fight each other. Those are the new teammate protocols. We knew this would be coming -- it will probably be coming again --but this time we are very well prepared.
Jackson goes on to state that Condit will still be training in Albuquerque, but Jackson won't be working one on one with him on the kind of game planning he normally handles. St. Pierre only sporadically trains in New Mexico these days, instead spending his time in Montreal where Jackson comes to him, and likely will not be in Albuquerque at all between now and the Condit fight.
This is a shift from some of the Jackson team members' stances in the past. For years, Keith Jardine and Rashad Evans were very vocal that they would not fight each, with Jackson supporting both men's positions. Other Jackson fighters have expressed a similar loyalty and unwillingness to fight a teammate. That blew up earlier this year when Jon Jones agreed to fight Rashad Evans, causing Evans to become very frustrated with his former teammate, trainer, and camp. For Jackson to state that there is a clear protocol shows that they have hopefully learned from the Evans vs. Jones situation, and are now prepared for their teammates to fight, if necessary. It will be interesting to see if this opens the door to future teammate vs. teammate fights down the line.
As for Condit and GSP, while Jackson will step out, you have to think Mike Winkeljohn also has more intimate knowledge of St. Pierre's training than your average coach. That may prove to be an advantage for Condit, who will need every help he can get against GSP.