We are still in the wake of the confusion surrounding a video that surfaced after UFC 158 of UFC Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel Michael Mersch telling the Nick Diaz camp that his fight with Georges St. Pierre that the Quebec commission "doesn't count decimals" when the fighters step on the scales. This meant, simply, that 170.9 would be considered the same thing as 170, a rule of which the UFC was clearly unaware as they inquired why they were not informed of this prior to this close to the weigh-in. This is very strange given that title fights have always required a fighter to come in exactly at or below the contracted weight, in this case 170.
Mersch informed the Diaz camp that this was "kind of an off the record type thing." The original video was subsequently pulled from YouTube on a copyright claim made by the UFC despite it seemingly not being anything they could have had a copyright on. The Quebec commission also claimed that this was standard practice for them, despite a history that certainly suggests otherwise as they've announced decimals in the past and even forced Bernard Hopkins to cut 0.9 pounds for his title fight against Jean Pascal.
Jonathan Tweedale, Nick Diaz's lawyer, contacted Bloody Elbow and exclusively provided very interesting text message transcripts from the evening of the weigh in, explaining "Given some of the media coverage, we need to set the record straight on the timing that the issue of the 0.9 was raised by Nick Diaz. The issue was pursued immediately. On the evening of March 15, Mike Mersch and I exchanged the following correspondence (via text message), in which he denied any knowledge of a .9 allowance or ignoring the decimal."
Mersch, again, was the man in the video who informed the camp of the "no decimal" changes.
Here is the text conversation between Tweedale (JDT) and Mersch (MM), which starts at 9:24 p.m.:
JDT: "Hi Mike. Nick is curious about the .9 pound allowance at today's weigh-in for his championship bout. He doesn't want to be a nuisance about this, but he's a bit confused. Can you shed any light?"
MM: "I don't know what you're talking about. All parties weighed in appropriately according [to] the Quebec Commission."
JDT: "Of course. You're right, and he knows that. He just wanted to know why the Quebec Commission was okay with a 0.9 pound weight allowance for a championship fight. Nick's not going to make an issue of it, but it's been gnawing at him since it was explained to him at the weigh-ins, on an "off the record" basis or otherwise. I just want him to stop thinking about it, and thought you could provide some insight."
MM: "I have been told everyone made weight so there's nothing to make an issue about. He might want to focus on how he's going to win the fight rather than spending the night making excuses about why he lost."
The correspondence continued at 9:46 p.m.:
JDT: "C'mon Mike you're just going to stonewall on this issue? We're reaching out in a discreet manner, as appropriate in the circumstances. Meet us half-way."
MM: "Huh? The Commission determined both fighters weighed 170 or less. What am I supposed to do about that? I would think Nick would be excited to compete for the UFC Welterweight title. Seems like he's focused on the wrong issue."
JDT: "No one wants you to *do* anything. If the answer is simply "the Quebec Commission permits a promoter to request that .9 pounds be rounded down in a championship fight (unlike, e.g., the Washington commission for Nate's fight), and Zuffa made that request here", then pls confirm. Far better to reach out this way than the uncooperative Twitter/media way."
MM: "How would I know what the Quebec Commission does? I was informed everyone made weight like everyone else at the weigh in. Zuffa made no requests for anything from the Quebec Commission. Good luck to Nick with the fight."
JDT: "Okay. I'll let Nick know that you can't shed any light on why Quebec treats 170.9 as 170 in a championship fight. Disappointing. Thanks for your time and your wish of luck to Nick for the fight."
MM: "Again I have no idea what you're talking about. The Quebec Commission indicated both fighters were 170 or lower."
JDT: "If you don't know then I should be asking someone else. No worries, Mike. Which UFC exec advised Nick and his entourage before the weigh-in that "If you're 170.2, you're 170. If you're 170.9, you're 170...that's a kinda off the record type of thing"?"
MM: "I would think you'd direct that to the source: the Quebec Commission. The UFC has nothing to do with weigh ins in Quebec."
Tweedale explained, "We appreciate that Mr. Mersch was in a difficult position, evidently having been instructed by the Quebec Commission to relay to Mr. Diaz some last-minute, unlawful 'rule changes' to give the hometown fighter a reprieve from his duty to make weight at 170 pounds. But the above transcript shows Mr. Mersch's views on the matter. If he and the UFC thought that this last-minute rule change was above-board, lawful, or defensible, Mersch presumably would have answered our legitimate questions about the 0.9 and ignoring the decimal in a forthright and straightforward manner."
Tweedale also provided transcripts from a text conversation with Michel Hamelin, director of the Quebec commission -- Regie des Alcools des Courses et des Jeux (RACJ) -- on March 24 after the video of the interaction between Mersch and the Diaz camp became public.
Here are those transcripts between Tweedale and Hamelin (MH), starting at 1:19 p.m.:
JDT: "Michel, do you have anything more to say about the 0.9 pound allowance for Georges?"
MH: "No the responsable of the weight in call 170 as mentioned."
JDT: "Okay. That was the weight called out. But what about the rule? Why was the "special" rule made that anything up to 170.9 was to be called out as "170"?"
MH: "The were no specials rules !"
The conversation continued on March 25, at 3:45 p.m.:
JDT: "If you had a rule allowing 170.9 to be 170, you would have pointed me to it when I contacted you on March 15. It is 10 days later and you haven't done so. It is clear that you have no rule for "ignoring the decimal"."
MH: "Jonathan , if you need a official answer, send a official email , With your quetions, and you will received the answer to your question from de RACJ , Regards , M hamelin"
JDT: "I want the 'off the record' answer as well, per the video."
MH: "For us the is NO off record , we only follow the RACJ rules, and I respectfully answer to all yours questions when you call ."
At that point, the Quebec commission released their statement basically stating that they don't count the decimal -- again, something their history is not consistent with -- and allow an extra hour to make weight for a title fight.
There are obvious inconsistencies here in the stories of both the commission and the UFC. As Tweedale pointed out, the UFC very well could have been in a bad position where the commission changed something at the last minute and they were left with no choice but to go along with it, but it's still strange to see Mersch tell Tweedale "I don't know what you're talking about" when it was absolutely a conversation he held.
Bloody Elbow will have more on this story as details become available.