Penn Calls NSAC for an Investigation

Written by Tom Ngo
February 4th, 2009

Following his humiliating loss to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn has contacted the Nevada State Athletic Commission and requested that they conduct a  “comprehensive investigation” into the possible illegal use of Vaseline to the body of St-Pierre during their bout at UFC 94. Although they have reached out to the Commission for assistance, this is not a formal complaint.

In a letter sent to the Commission, Penn’s attorney, Raffi Nahabedian, states that the illegal use of Vaseline neutralized his client’s superior Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills, and wanted for the matter to be looked into.

“This illegal situation made it impossible for Mr. Penn to defend himself and unfairly exposed Mr. Penn to GSP’s ‘ground and pound’ strategy, which Mr. Penn extensively trained for and was fully prepared to perform against,” the letter states. “More importantly, by neutralizing Mr. Penn’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu abilities through the use of illegal and improper means, Mr. Penn was subjected to a life threatening and career ending environment; an environment that the Commission was formed to protect against.”

Before the start of the 2ndRound, a spectator sitting ringside, reportedly former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, alerted NSAC agents that GSP’s cornermen were discretely rubbing his body with the substance.

The NSAC confronted GSP’s cornermen during the intermissions before the 3rd and 4thRounds, slightly wiping him down each time before the fight resumed.

“We are not trying to make excuses, but the NSAC needs to protect the fighters,” Jay Dee Penn told Sherdog.com. “They never notified us or completely wiped his back with water and towels.”

St-Pierre’s trainer Greg Jackson clarified exactly what was going on in between rounds. He states that Muay Thai trainer Phil Nurse was replicating “witch doctor” strategies that the welterweight champion requested.

“So in between rounds, (Steve Friend) had this little drill that you do – and Phil Nurse is the one who knows how to do it – he showed Phil, and this is what Georges wanted, so we did that,” Jackson said. “But this is why we were doing it. He rubbed your back and tapped your chest; I don’t know exactly how it works. But anyways, what that’s supposed to do is get your energy in line, or motivated or whatever. So in between rounds, we had Phil Nurse do that.”

Steven Friend is a “witch doctor” that St-Pierre met when he first moved his training down to Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Friend has worked with many other MMA fighters, including former UFC champions Randy Couture and Matt Hughes.

In an interview with InsideFighting.com, Penn’s head coach Rudy Valentino claimed that GSP used similar tactics when the two first collided back in 2006. Valentino also claims that former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra alleged St-Pierre did the same thing in their rematch at UFC 83 last April.

“Because of Mr. Penn’s prior experience and information provided to him before his participation in the bout, a member of Mr. Penn’s team informed [NSAC officials] prior to the bout of the possibility of [St-Pierre] being ‘greased up’ during the bout or engaging in activities that may cause him to be/become slippery during the bout,” the letter continued. “While the discussion occurred, Mr. Penn and his team believed that the commission would be on heightened alert to guard against such illegal activities and would take every precaution to ensure Mr. Penn’s safety and a proper and fair contest.

“Additionally, during the bout, statements were made that [St-Pierre] was ‘too slippery’ and that Mr. Penn could not grab or hold [St-Pierre] because of ‘how slippery’ he was during the bout. … [It] is clear that the Commission’s obligations to ensure and guard against such corruption and unfair advantage were severely compromised as people openly witnessed the improper application of an illegal substance over the neck, shoulders, and back of [St-Pierre] the critical areas of Mr. Penn’s strategy to impose his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submission skills and techniques during the bout.”

Executive director for the NSAC, Keith Kizer, said that he has obtained multiple camera angles of the fight from the UFC, as well as footage dedicated strictly to GSP’s corner between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rdRounds.

From here, a copy of Nahabedian’s letter will be sent to the “principal cornermen,” (Jackson and Nurse) of St. Pierre on Thursday. They will be given 20 days from the time they receive the letter to respond.

“This gives them more of a full opportunity to let them have their side of it as well,” Kizer said.

In a recent interview with SI.com, GSP was willing to defend himself and his cornmen to the death.

“I have nothing to hide,” stated St-Pierre. “I’m not even afraid to go into court and fight that.”

Penn has until February 10th to file a formal complaint.

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