Watching Lorenzo Fertitta do interviews is like getting a glimpse into a utopian alternate-universe in which the president of the UFC wasn’t a petulant spaz whose first response to any criticism is to call you a pussy. Fertitta is an adult, and as such, he occasionally has to clean up the messes left behind by his minority partner. Here’s what the Zuffa Chairman/CEO had to say yesterday to Ariel Helwani, regarding Dana White’s now-infamous rant about what Georges St-Pierre “owes” the UFC following last weekend’s fight against Johny Hendricks:
“I think Dana was misunderstood and hopefully he’s trying to clarify that. GSP doesn’t owe us anything. 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 he said ‘no no no, 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.
“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…
“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.”
See? Now doesn’t that make a lot more sense? Obviously, the stuff about Dana White being “misunderstood” is absolute bullshit — he was understood just fine, unfortunately, and he was still defending his comments four days after he first made them — but when Lorenzo explains his case in rational, non-abusive terms, you can almost sympathize with their position. GSP doesn’t owe the UFC an immediate rematch with Johny Hendricks, but he should be able to explain to his employers what he’s doing, and for how long, so that everyone can move forward from there.
St-Pierre has always been a very private, guarded person, sometimes to his own detriment. Still, he certainly didn’t deserve the verbal carpet-bombing he received directly after the toughest fight of his life. But hey, that’s our Dana, always calling like he sees it, and that’s why love him, right? I mean, that’s totally preferable to an executive who’s respectful, thinks before he speaks, and can go five words without saying “fuck,” right? RIGHT???