Things have gotten complicated. What started out as Nick Diaz's paranoid nitpicking has turned into an official scandal as statements continue to be released, videos are pulled down and resurface, complaints are filed, and culpability is denied. To make sense of it here's a blow-by-blow rundown of the events that have created the current Georges St. Pierre weigh in controversy.
March 14, 2013 - Nick Diaz accuses GSP of taking steroids
If you want the real beginning of this whole thing, here it is. On March 14th Nick Diaz made an appearance on The Fan 590, a Sportsnet radio station, where he accused GSP of taking steroids, Canada of having incredibly lax testing standards, and the UFC of being willful participants. While these statements may not have been directly precipitous of the events as they unfolded they laid the groundwork for the appeals and complaints to come. In Nick's own words:
"I believe that he's is on plenty of steroids, and I don't think they test around here either. I doubt I'll be tested as well. I don't care what they say to the fans or the media, I don't think we'll be tested. And if so, he's probably got a bottle of piss in his pocket."
March 15, 2013 - UFC 158 weigh ins
While a few other words were exchanged, and statements made (including a demand for increased testing from GSP), the official weigh-ins were the next big moment of this saga. Both fighters appeared to make weight without issue, with Diaz officially recorded at 169 lbs (76.7 kilos) and GSP recorded at 170 lbs (77.1 kilos) on the dot.
The fight itself was a pretty straight forward, cut-and-dried affair, with GSP controlling almost every aspect and winning an easy unanimous decision. But the post fight presser was all sorts of magical. Diaz arrived late, but quickly dominated the Q&A with ramblings about his retirement, desire for a rematch, and failure to pay taxes. Included in that was another seed of controversy over a pre-fight wraps check that resulted in both fighters hand wraps being confiscated for examination post-fight.
"They were, they were. You know. (Points at GSP) This guy has no punching power. I'm sorry, you're a wrestler. (GSP laughs, Hendricks looks down). But you know, he don't have punching power. Even, he has a full range to punch me from the back (while they're on the ground), right? I got hit with an elbow too and that didn't cut me, but something hit me right here (points between his eyes) and that just...I don't know, Jake said he had something wrong with his wraps, maybe he had something wrong with his wraps, I dunno. I ain't gonna accuse him of anything. I did get hit with one shot that didn't feel like it was hard and it still opened a cut on my head. But, you know - I could talk shit all day. I could talk shit. (media laughs) I'm not finished, I'm not beat up. I fight, you know, the goddamned five round woke me up. And I'm ready to fight. So that's just how I feel."
March 25, 2013 - The decimal controversy surfaces
Here of course is where we get to the meat of the matter. After a fairly quiet week, Diaz getting pulled over notwithstanding, the MMA world was greeted with a video, which showed UFC exec. Mike Mersch informing Diaz "off the record," in the hours leading to the weigh-in, that the Quebec athletic commission would be rounding down the weight of main event fighters to the nearest pound. Diaz seemed unconcerned by the news initially, but members of his entourage were quick to jump on the information, calling it the "Canadian Loophole." Here is Mersch in his own words:
"Here, they're going to allow you and Georges to have an extra hour," Mersch says. "Just in case somebody doesn't make it."
"But the good news is, they don't count the decimal. If you're 170.2 it's 170. If it's 170.9. it's 170."
"It's just something to keep in mind. That's kind of an off the record type of thing. But keep that in mind. As long as he's under 171, we should be good.
March 26, 2013 - Nick Diaz moves to file formal complaint
Following the release of the video Nick Diaz's camp announced that they would be filing an official complaint with the Quebec athletic commission, citing a lack of proper testing, and irregularities to the weigh-in system, ultimately demanding a rematch or that Georges be stripped of the title.
The Quebec Commission's statement is a disappointing admission that the March 16 event was not conducted under the rules applicable to a UFC title fight - or under the rules the fighters contractually agreed to, upon which rules Mr. Diaz was entitled to rely under his bout agreement.
"Further serious irregularities including, inter alia, the Quebec Commission's failure to supervise fighters' provision of samples in connection with testing for Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods (under sections 71.1 to 71.6 of the Regulation), will be set out in an official complaint that will be filed imminently,"
"The Quebec Commission deliberately relaxed the rule in this case and, by its own admission, allowed their home-town fighter to 'make weight' even if he weighed more than the contracted weight."
"In the circumstances, Mr. St-Pierre remains legally and ethically obligated to fight Mr. Diaz at 170 pounds or else vacate the belt in favor of those prepared to fight at welterweight."
March 28, 2013 - UFC files DMCA claim
Rather than respond directly to the complaint filed by the Diaz camp, Zuffa attempted to skirt this issue by filing a copyright claim for the conversation between Diaz and Mersch under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Brent Brookhouse outlined the problems with such a claim, and why the UFC most likely already understood them.
The video was of a conversation, the UFC does not own a copyright on conversations that take place in the stadium seats. Nor does it own a copyright on anything actually shown in the video. The video doesn't even show something like the Octagon which the UFC could try to make some sort of (wrong) claim that violated their copyright. It is strictly a conversation in the stadium seats.
Interestingly, Mersch's job as Assistant General Counsel for the UFC has him as one of the biggest forces in the UFC's very aggressive copyright regulation. This means that he is one of the main players in the UFC's efforts to go after sites that illegally broadcast their shows and, in more questionable cases, after sites which use small amounts of video or gifs or screenshots that appear to fall under fair use.
Mersch's job means that he's more than well aware of the way that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) applies.
March 28, 2013 - Jonathan Tweedale releases texts from Mike Mersch to Nick Diaz
In an especially damning move Jonathan Tweedale, Nick Diaz's legal adviser released texts from a conversation between himself and Mersch, from March 15th, immediately after the weigh-ins. In these texts Mersch effectively denied any memory of the "off-the-record" conversation between the two. He also made it clear that he believed that all parties involved had made weight and that there was nothing out of line with the way the commission handled the fighters.
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."
Tweedale also released texts from Michel Hamelin director of the Quebec athletic commission.
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"
March 30, 2013 - A counterclaim is filed
Several days after the video was pulled its owner, and videographer, filed a counterclaim with YouTube for the rights to the video, that it might be re-posted.
April 3, 2013 - Nick Diaz retires
Not to be lost in the middle of all the talk of rematches, weigh-ins, and steroids, Nick Diaz also reinforced his desire to step away from fighting. Ariel Helwani released the following statement from Tweedale, on behalf of Nick Diaz. Effectively making real his threats to wait out the UFC until he gets another fight with Georges, or a potential dream matchup with Anderson Silva.
"Right now Nick is retired, unless he gets rematch with Georges St-Pierre or the big Anderson Silva fight. Apparently if he doesn’t get those, he’s going to remain retired."
April 11, 2013 - GSP admits he came in overweight
Initially reported, corrected, followed up, and eventually re-reported, GSP told Marc Tougas of La Presse that he may have weighed in at around 170.4 lbs. It was mistakenly believed that this quote came from a video in which GSP stated that had he weighed in at 170.4 lbs it would have been rounded down to 170.
April 12, 2013 - The decimal video resurfaces
Nearly two weeks after the counter claim was filed, the taped conversation between Nick Diaz reappeared online. We can only assume that the counterclaim filed by the video's owner was successful, which is good considering the shady nature of the conversation and the reasonable light it casts on Nick Diaz's often paranoid statements of persecution.
April 14, 2013 - Marc Tougas releases the full transcript of his conversation with GSP
His transcript provided solid proof that St, Pierre did in fact make a concerted effort to come in slightly over the 170 lb limit in order to gain a mental advantage over his opponent. Here is the choicest of the interview quotes:
I don't remember if I was... I think it was point 4, or something like that. Because they round it out.... Huh, point 4, yeah, so that's... You want to get there as heavy as you can to show you're right on, on the scale. It's a bit of a mental trick.
All that brings us up to the present. Tweedale forwarded me the following information of what to expect in the coming week:
Early next week the Quebec Commission will be responding to Diaz’s requests for (i) documents, communications and information concerning the last-minute decision to treat 170.9 as “170 pounds or less” at the weigh-in, including information as to whether the Commission’s decision to permit 0.9 pounds over the weight limit was made in response to any request (and, if so, who made the request); (ii) copies of the Commission’s written request to the laboratory specifying which prohibited substances the lab was asked to test Diaz’s sample for (if any); and (iii) copies of any documents received from the lab conducting the drug testing showing the precise results for Diaz for all substances his sample was actually tested for.
After that, who knows how this will all unfold? At the moment it sounds like it could easily be headed to a long drawn-out legal battle that will probably leave all parties dissatisfied, but it could all come to nothing too if officials involved are unwilling to take action.
(Jonathan Tweedale was able to offer his input in gathering quotes, texts, and information surrounding this story)
For a piece in the StarPheonix, a Canadian news website, Keith Kizer and Nick Lembo went on the record with the weigh-in standards for the Nevada and New Jersey state athletic commissions respectively.
In Nevada, added Kizer, the scales used go up and down by .2 pounds, so 170 pounds, 170.2 pounds and 170.4 pounds would be rounded down to 170 pounds and be considered to have made weight in the welterweight division. A fighter at 170.6 pounds or 170.8 pounds would round down to 170.5 pounds and be given up to one hour to lose the necessary weight.
In the state of New Jersey, which features another influential athletic commission, common practice includes making exact weight (or less) for championship bouts.
Nick Lembo, counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, said on Tuesday that his agency “will allow one pound over on a contract weight, unless the promoter denies such allowance. However, the caveat is that most promoters want major title fights to be dead-on weight. Thus, 170 becomes exactly 170 or less.”
In previous UFC events in the state of New Jersey, UFC officials did not request a one-pound allowance for championship bouts, added Lembo.
And with a little digging we were able to come up with a copy of the Montreal athletic commission rules on weigh-in procedure.
Section XI, rule 77: "During the official weigh in, no delay should be accorded to a contestant to allow him to increase or decrease his weight" (translation via Sweet Scientist)