B.J. Penn has followed up his request for a review of his UFC 94 loss to Canadian Georges St. Pierre with a formal complaint to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, asking that the result of the mixed martial arts title fight be nullified.
The lightweight champion from Hawaii argues that St. Pierre, who holds the welterweight title, was illegally greased during the champion versus champion fight Jan. 31 in Las Vegas and as such had an unfair advantage.
"Basically B.J. feels that what occurred during the fight put him in a position that was unfair and improper and did not comply with the rules and regulations," Penn's Las Vegas-based lawyer, Raffi A. Nahabedian, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
"So on one hand, we would like to have the bout essentially nullified . . . the things we are asking for are consistent with the provisions of the code that we have filed our complaint. We also feel there needs to be changes in the rules and regulations."
Among the other Penn requests for relief are a fine of up to US$250,000, as provided in the Nevada statutes, Nahabedian noted; that St. Pierre's licence be suspended as well as those of cornermen/coaches Greg Jackson and Phil Nurse; and the Canadian fighter be required to take a pre-fight shower to ensure there are no substances on his body.
Nahabedian says the last suggestion is from the world of wrestling.
In a Feb. 3 letter to the commission, Nahabedian asked for a "comprehensive investigation and review of the activities involving and relating to Georges St. Pierre prior to and during the bout."
Nahabedian said Wednesday the initial letter was intended "to put the commission on notice" while a formal complaint was prepared.
Essentially the complaint completes the Penn pleading before the commission. And by following all of the proper complaint procedural requirements, it allows Penn to pursue other appeal options if the commission does not pursue further the complaint.
Prior to receiving the formal complaint, commission executive director Keith Kizer said the matter would be heard at a meeting of the commission March 17. Kizer was not immediately available for comment Monday.
The St. Pierre camp responded to the initial Penn letter with a statement and video Feb. 6.
"I have never cheated in my life and, as my fans know, I am deeply committed to upholding the integrity of the sport," St. Pierre said. "My entire camp and I have been completely open about what happened during my fight at UFC 94 - we have nothing to hide.
"One of my cornermen did use an energy technique to help with my breathing that involves rubbing my back. He's also done this in my previous fights. If there was any Vaseline left on his hand after he put it on my face, it was unintentional, and I do not believe it made the slightest difference in the outcome of the fight."
St. Pierre won when the bout was stopped after four rounds by referee Herb Dean, on the advice of the ring physician. The Penn camp concurred.
The judges scored the first four rounds 40-35, 40-34, 40-34 for St. Pierre, who dominated the fight.
The fight pitted champion against champion. Penn holds the UFC title at 155 pounds while St. Pierre is champion at welterweight at 170 pounds. Both fighters kept their belts, since the fight was contested at 170 .
Prior to the Penn letter, Kizer said it seemed unlikely that the Vaseline incident would have any impact on the outcome of the fight.
Protesting a decision usually comes down to four areas in the regulations: miscounting the scorecards, a positive drug test, collusion of some sort such as paying off an official, and a referee misinterpreting the rules.
But Kizer said Penn was free to argue differently.
The Vaseline incident was enough to have Kizer make a rare visit into the cage between rounds to address the issue with the St. Pierre camp.
Kizer said one of the commission inspectors came to him after the first round to say that Nurse, St. Pierre's Muay Thai trainer, had put Vaseline on his fighter's face - which is allowed - and then rubbed St. Pierre's shoulders and upper arms, transferring Vaseline.
Kizer, sitting at the commission table cageside, entered the cage after the second round and asked the GSP corner to wipe down the fighter. The commission ordered the same thing after the third round.
Fighters are checked by an official before they get in the cage. A cutman also smears a small amount of Vaseline on the face to help prevent cuts.
If a fighter is cut, the cutman enters the cage between rounds to work on it. If there is no cut, he stays outside and a cornermen reapplies Vaseline to the face, since it rubs off during the exchange of blows. Applying it anywhere else is illegal.