Stephane Patry has been in the MMA business for 14 years as a promoter and manager. Montreal always has been his home base.
Patry is well acquainted with the ruleset employed by the Regie des alcools des courses et des jeux (Quebec’s athletic commission) and UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, whom he managed from 2002 to 2007.
And while Patry doesn’t have any proof his former client did anything wrong prior to a successful title defense against Nick Diaz at UFC 158 earlier this month, he is certain the commission acted improperly.
“This commission has been bullying a lot of people around here for several years,” Patry told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “They were never able to bully me, even though they tried, because I know the rules by heart.”
On Tuesday, the Quebec commission attempted to explain why St-Pierre’s title challenger, Nick Diaz, was told by UFC official Michael Mersch on the day of the weigh-ins that they would have an extra hour to make weight and could weigh up to 170.9 pounds and still be considered 170 pounds, as revealed by a recent video.
Weight allowances are widely believed to be forbidden in title fights, though the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts only outline commonly accepted weight classes. In reality, weight restrictions are put in place by promoters and enforced by athletic commissions, which have varying rulesets.
“I wish to inform you that, during UFC 158, no contestants exceeded the weight determined in their contracts,” a Quebec commission official wrote in an email to MMAFighting.com. “Currently, the Regie does take into consideration the maximum weight determined by contract when it carries out the weigh-ins before a bout. However, our regulation on combat sports does not take decimals into account. Their consideration is a question of interpretation likely to be debated between the two parties under contract.”
Patry called the explanation “complete bulls—” and said the commission for years has counted decimals, to the point where he’s written into his bout agreements a one-pound allowance because they would fine fighters 20 percent of their purse for being two-tenths of a pound over. And there wouldn’t be an hour to get under the limit, he said, because the commission doesn’t allow extra time.
Missing, though, are the contracts St-Pierre and Diaz signed to fight each other at the March 16 pay-per-view event, so it’s unclear what exactly the fighters agreed to. (A Diaz rep said the contracted weight was “170 pounds maximum.”) Several fighters who have competed at previous UFC events in Montreal have weighed in a half-pound over the accepted weight limit without being fined, which would reflect a widely accepted one-pound allowance for non-title bouts.
Patry, though, said the regulatory body picks and chooses the rules it enforces.
“Their rules in Quebec are the farthest thing from the Unified Rules,” he said. “Technically in Quebec in MMA, if somebody gets knocked down from a kick or a punch, the referee has to do an eight-count. That’s what the rule says. Obviously, they don’t apply that; there wouldn’t be any MMA in Quebec. But they’ve had 10 years to modify that.
“Now, Bellator is trying to come to Quebec, but they can’t because they have a round cage, and yet, they approve the UFC’s octagon when their rulebook clearly states that the octagon cannot be wider than 24 feet. The UFC’s octagon is 32 feet. So they’re doing this exception to the UFC or any promotion that uses a big cage. Why are they saying no to Bellator because it’s a round cage?
“They’re happy with the rules being the way they are because they use that to go around the rules all the time. Every time there’s a story that pops up, they find a loophole in the rulebook to explain their stupidity. But now, unfortunately for them, there’s no loophole that they can use to explain what happened. So instead of apologizing, explaining that they f—ed up, they just lie about it.”
At issue is the legitimacy of the title fight, which has been smeared by the emergence of the video and a complaint lodged Tuesday by Diaz adviser-turned-legal-rep Jonathan Tweedale, who said the commission violated its own rules in favor of a “hometown” fighter. Tweedale now believes Diaz should get an immediate rematch, or St-Pierre should be stripped of the title if he refuses.
Multiple attempts to reach Quebec commission officials for further clarification of its statement were unsuccessful.
Patry pointed to a May 2011 fight between boxers Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal as an example of selective enforcement. Both fighters came in heavy and were allowed two hours to make the contracted weight.
“That even is not part of their rules” Patry said. “In Quebec, you have one chance to weigh-in. Not two, not three. One.”
In the video, Diaz’s teammates wonder aloud why they’re being told about the commission’s allowance so soon before the event’s weigh-ins. One says, “That’s a loophole. A Canadian loophole.”
What they should have done right then, Patry said, is demanded a representative be placed beside St-Pierre as he weighed in.
“Because we’ll never know the truth,” he said. “The only people who know the truth is Georges St-Pierre, who was on the scale and saw the number; Firas Zahabi, who was right beside them; Joe Rogan that was right behind them; and one of the commissioners. Those are the only four people that know the truth, and it’s probably never going to come out.”
Patry called St-Pierre “a professional” who had never before missed weight, and yet he was aware the fighter was ill the morning of the weigh-ins.
“I don’t think he was dying, but he was sick,” he said. “I’m just talking out of my ass right now (but) maybe he wasn’t able to make weight because he was sick, and they wanted to make the show.”
The UFC has deferred all questions about the weigh-in controversy to the Quebec commission, which as of Tuesday, stopped answering emails.
“It’s a very tricky situation,” Patry said. “Let’s say Diaz’s manager is right beside the scale, and St-Pierre is 170.6, and the commission yells ’170' like they did. I would move the sky and the Earth to make sure I get a rematch. But they’re never going to be able to prove that because nobody was there besides St-Pierre. The commission can say it was 170, UFC can say it was 170, Georges can say he was 170, but Diaz will always have a doubt in his mind because the commission just lied.
“It’s a sad story. I actually think it’s a black eye to the sport. This nonsense has to stop in Quebec. If I were the UFC, I would tell the commission here, ‘Get your act together because we’re not coming back until your rules are fair.’”
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