Bjorn Rebney: 'GSP Doesn't Owe Anything, UFC Reaction Was Tasteless'

Jordy McElroy@ IJanuary 20, 2014

Bjorn Rebney
Bjorn RebneyEsther Lin/MMAFighting

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is appalled by UFC President Dana White’s treatment of former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

Leading up to his UFC 167 title fight with Johny Hendricks, St-Pierre was adamant about stepping up drug testing for the bout in hopes of setting a positive example for MMA. St-Pierre offered to pay for Hendricks to join him in random tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).

After initially agreeing to the tests, Hendricks soon changed his mind due to a gut feeling that something was amiss. He instead opted for the testing to be done by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

A confusing battle of acronyms ensued for days between St-Pierre and Hendricks until White appeared on Fox Sports' Google Hangout and said that the entire incident made them both look stupid.

St-Pierre, who obviously appears to be more forthcoming with the French media, explained in an interview with La Presse (h/t that he was "very disappointed" by the lack of support in the UFC. The bout with Hendricks served only to exacerbate an already rocky situation.

After being awarded a controversial split decision, a battered and bloodied St-Pierre announced that he would be going on an extended hiatus to deal with some things in his personal life.

Still fuming over the decision, White exploded at the post-fight press conference, claiming that St-Pierre owed it to the UFC and fans to give Hendricks an immediate rematch. It was an odd choice of words considering St-Pierre has been the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw for years, and he owns the record for most time spent in the Octagon by a fighter.

When asked to chime in during the Bellator 110 media conference call, Rebney was very critical of the UFC’s handling of the entire situation (h/t MMA Fighting):

I do have an opinion on some of the comments that have been going back and forth with GSP. The UFC set the bar pretty high in terms of tasteless comments, but their recent comments on Georges St-Pierre are some of the most tasteless comments they've made in some time. I look at GSP as one of the greatest and most honorable champions our sport has ever seen.

On December 13, St-Pierre announced he would be vacating the UFC title and going on an indefinite leave from MMA.

The initial assumption was that the decision was based on a personal need to step away and take a break from fighting. But in January, fans learned that an opportunity to finally live a normal life wasn’t the only reason St-Pierre made the decision to hang up the gloves.

During a scrum with the French media (h/t MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani), St-Pierre credited the UFC’s refusal to take his drug-testing ideas seriously as one of the main reasons he decided to leave.

He argued that the UFC would have to forgo its passive approach regarding pre-fight drug testing if it ever hopes to be accepted worldwide like other mainstream sports.

Rebney believes the former champ made some great points:

I don't think GSP owes us as fans anything. I don't think that GSP owes the UFC anything. He's given us fans and the organization he's fought for, he's given everything. I think we should all be thankful we've had a guy like that fight in the last 10 years. A lot of his points are good points. He's been a de facto ambassador for our sport for a long period of time, and I put a lot of credence and credibility in what he's talking about.

If St-Pierre’s return hinges on change in the UFC, he should probably go ahead and make his retirement official, especially after hearing White’s response on Fox Sports.

As usual, it appears to be Uncle Dana’s way or the highway, no exceptions.