Mishandling of Georges St-Pierre could come back to bite the UFC

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Over the last year, St-Pierre has faced definitive criticism from the UFC brass. Now that he's stepped away from his title, those words could return to hurt the UFC.

On Tuesday, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre specifically implicated the UFC brass in his decision to step away from the Octagon. In a media scrum shown by RDS.ca, St-Pierre said that the UFC's lack of support was an important fact in him taking a prolonged hiatus. He went on to say that the UFC was a monopoly where fighters can't voice complaints for fear of retribution.

While most of St-Pierre's complaints are reiterations of subjects repeatedly brought up by critics, the words have a different impact coming from the promotion's biggest star and historical company man. GSP has been the perfect poster boy for the UFC throughout his time as champion. He's never had a public relations scandal and always had a picture perfect quote about the challengers to his throne. While that square image turned off some fans, it still led him to becoming the biggest homegrown draw the UFC has ever had on it's roster.

The UFC had fully supported GSP throughout his reign as champion. However, in the latter days of his kingship of the 170 lb. division signs of stress began to show. Prior to his bout with Johny Hendricks, Georges got behind the campaign of VADA for improved testing in mixed martial arts. He volunteered himself for testing under the third party organization and offered to pay the cost for his UFC 167 opponent Johny Hendricks to be tested as well. UFC president Dana White called his decision "a little weird."

Eventually, VADA testing ended up falling through (although GSP did complete the program). Hendricks perceived a bias of the company in favor of his opponent. He proposed a compromise where the Nevada Athletic Commission would oversee the WADA-standard testing instead, but that also fell through. White responded to that statement saying both competitors "looked stupid."

Although St-Pierre has said he'd been considering stepping away a year before, the final straw seemed to have fallen in the wake of UFC 167. After five rounds, GSP was awarded a controversial split decision. At the post-fight press conference, White derided the athletic commission's judgement. Furthermore, he blasted St-Pierre's post-fight statement that said he may have to step away from the sport. Both claims from Dana were poorly received.

That leads us back to what happened on Tuesday. For the first time in his MMA career, St-Pierre set himself against the UFC. He self-admittedly held his tongue, but his accusations were still bold. Performance enhancing drug use in professional sports is a hot button issue and he accused the UFC of not supporting his effort to decrease it in the UFC. On top of that, he said they've created a fearful environment where the independent contractors cannot speak their mind. If they're not nipped in the bud, GSP's statements could have a detrimental effect on the image of the UFC.

For now, it's a single set of statements from GSP that won't last long in the short-termed minds of most MMA fans. But, as the former face of the sport, GSP's isn't a voice that will be ignored if he continues to talk. UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta has already attempted to get ahead of the situation saying he's shocked by the statements and wants to talk with GSP. If Georges can't be calmed by his diplomatic voice, it could lead to a PR nightmare for the premier league in MMA.

Here's Kid Nate from the MMA Bunker with his take on what it all means:

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