Lorenzo Fertitta: Dana Was Misunderstood, GSP Owes The UFC Nothing
“GSP doesn’t owe us anything,” Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said about the UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre following a storm of media attention on UFC President Dana White’s (pictured above) response to St-Pierre’s talk of retiring. “If he chooses to retire, then so be it, he’ll retire and become someone that people will always look up to as one of the great champions in the UFC… I think Dana was misunderstood and think hopefully he’s trying to clarify that.”
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
If you follow the news in MMA, then you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Following his most recent title fight against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, St-Pierre successfully defended his belt in what was a controversial decision. But the topic that has received the most attention has been St-Pierre’s announcement after the fight that he needs to take some time off.
To say there has been a lot of speculation would be selling the headlines from the past few days short. But more than anything, fans and media alike simply do not know what to make of St-Pierre’s announcement.
Neither did UFC Presdient Dana White. White spoke out against the champion’s announcement following the fight on several occassions, at times reaching a fever pitch seemed to reach a personal level.
White’s business partner and CEO of Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta spoke to MMA Fighting and shed some light to the St-Pierre issue that, at the very least, helps explain the powerful reaction on the part of Dana White.
“GSP doesn’t owe us anything,” Fertitta said. “If he chooses to retire, then so be it, he’ll retire and become someone that people will always look up to as one of the great champions in the UFC. If he decides to fight again, then great. I think where the confusion was, Georges never communicated anything to us prior to the fight relative to that he may be making an announcement. In fact, I think Dana said that he had talked to him and [Georges] said, ‘No, no, now, everything’s fine.’
“And then after the fight, the announcement he made was very vague. And I think what Dana was trying to say was that either you’re retired or you’re not, right? We can’t just put the UFC belt on the shelf for an undefined period, basically put it in limbo forever, because that’s not fair to the contenders that have been working their whole lifetime to get the opportunity to get the belt. It’s not fair to the fans to have the title sit on the side for too long. And it’s not fair to us as a company because we wouldn’t be able to plan. I think that’s what the message was meant to be, but I think unfortunately the press took it in a different way.”
Fertitta would go on to say that he thought White “was misunderstood and… hopefully he’s trying to clarify that.”
Certainly, White’s response to the announcement was one of confusion and surprise, but many it seems interpreted his statements as angry and frustrated.
But Fertitta essentially justifies that frustration.
“Georges doesn’t owe us anything. Just, what I think he does owe us is – clarify what you’re doing, right? Just let us know so we can plan.”
That doesn’t seem to be asking a lot from the champion; but Fertitta said he understands the stress that St-Pierre could be experiencing.
“There’s a lot of rumors. Look, we talked about a lot of different things. In some ways, it’s interesting because when we bought this business, nobody knew who the fighters were. It was almost like an underground sport in a lot of ways. They could walk down the street here in New York City and eat in a restaurant and nobody would know them.
“There is a sense of celebrity that is now involved, and along with that celebrity, particularly when you carry a country, there’s pressure that’s associated with it. I think it’s tough to be Georges St-Pierre some days. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of pressure that goes along with it, but he’s a consummate professional and he handles it great. He always lives up to anything we’ve ever asked him to do and he always performs in the octagon in the bright lights. So I think it’s just a moment in time, and I think he’s going to be fine.”
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