St-Pierre corner offers apology
By Lorinda Toledo
By Lorinda Toledo
LAS VEGAS — Cornerman Phil Nurse said yesterday that he didn't intend to cheat when he rubbed his hands on Georges St-Pierre's upper body after putting petroleum jelly on the UFC fighter's face.
Nurse told Nevada regulators that he was performing a breathing exercise on St-Pierre during the Jan. 31 Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas. St-Pierre beat Hilo's BJ Penn for the welterweight championship.
"I'm sorry that it came to this," Nurse said at a meeting of the Nevada Athletic Commission. "BJ, I'm sorry. ... Even after the fight when I saw myself in the video, I can't believe how that looks."
Executive director Keith Kizer showed the commission a video in which Nurse is seen running his hands over St-Pierre's shoulders, chest and back after rubbing petroleum jelly on the fighter's face.
It is against UFC rules to use petroleum jelly anywhere on a fighter's body other than his face.
"I've been in martial arts a long time, and the integrity is a very big thing in my life, and I would never do that to the fighters, and I would never do that to myself," Nurse said.
Kizer said he did not plan to file a disciplinary complaint through the attorney general's office. Unless a commissioner files a complaint, St-Pierre's victory will stand.
None of the commissioners indicated they would take disciplinary action.
However, the commissioners said they were considering mixed martial arts rule changes based on the testimony from lawyers, advisers and trainers for St-Pierre and Penn.
St-Pierre was not required to appear at the hearing. Penn arrived with his mother, who read a letter about her desire to see stricter rules enforced.
Commissioners heard more than 90 minutes of testimony on whether other substances, such as pills or powders, could make an athlete's skin more slippery. Penn and his lawyer, Raffi Nahabedian, said athletes should be tested for greasing and required to shower before entering the ring.
"Any good that comes off of this for the future, that's great, that's a plus," Penn said. "But of course I'm interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in my fight."
Penn said that he would like to fight St-Pierre again under fair conditions.
Commissioners did not say when they would return to the issue, and did not put forth any specific proposals for new rules. They planned to review additional video evidence and written statements submitted by Nahabedian.
Nurse said he won't take petroleum jelly into the corner any more.
St-Pierre's attorney, Steve Pacitti, said he didn't think the conversation should have gone this far.
"This started with Vaseline being rubbed on the shoulder and back, and now it's gotten out of hand," Pacitti said.