Did Quebec's athletic commission bend the rules in favor of hometown favorite Georges St-Pierre heading into UFC 158?
That was the question making the rounds on Monday after video surfaced of a conversation between UFC vice-president Michael Mersch and Nick Diaz's camp at the Bell Centre in the moments before the UFC 158 weigh-in. In the video, Mersch informed Diaz both he and St-Pierre, the contestants for the main event welterweight title fight, would be allowed up to a .9-pound discrepancy on the 170-pound welterweight limit. Hypothetically, a fighter who weighed in at 170.9 would be recorded as 170.
This differs from the title fight weigh-in rules utilized by nearly every commission in North America. While non-title fighters are allowed up to an extra pound on their weight-class limit to allow for potential minor scale inaccuracies, championship contestants are expected to hit the precise limit.
Tuesday, a representative from the Quebec commission confirmed to MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani that the commission does not, in fact, take decimals into account when calculating fighter weights. But the rule has been in place for some time and was not instituted on the spot to protect GSP, as some have insinuated.
"I wish to inform you that, during UFC 158, no contestants exceeded the weight determined in their contracts," Quebec commission representative Joyce Tremblay said in an email to MMAFighting. "Currently, the Régie does take into consideration the maximum weight determined by contract when it carries out the weight-ins before a bout. However, our regulation on combat sports does not take decimals into account. Their consideration is a question of interpretation likely to be debated between the two parties under contract."
A look at the weigh-in results for the six UFC events held in Montreal show that while weights were rounded to the half-pound for the first UFC event in Quebec, UFC 83 in 2008, they haven't taken decimals into account in the five events since.
While no one from Diaz's camp has accused St-Pierre of actually weighing in above 170, the fact the team wasn't informed of the commission's interpretation of the rules until just before the weigh-ins raised eyebrows. In the video, Mersch informs the Diaz camp both of the Quebec rules in regards to decimals, and that the main-event fighters would have an hour to try to make weight if they missed, a luxury not afforded to other fighters on the card.
"Here, they're going to allow you and Georges to have an extra hour. Just in case somebody doesn't make it," Mersch said. "But the good news is, they don't count the decimal. If you're 170.2 it's 170. If it's 170.9. it's 170."
Asked by Diaz's camp why they weren't informed sooner, Mersch said "It's just something to keep in mind. That's kind of an off the record type of thing. But keep that in mind. As long as he's under 171, we should be good."
Carlos Condit, who fought St-Pierre in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal, told MMAFighting on Tuesday he was never told of such weight allowances before the weigh-in for his fight with St-Pierre, which St-Pierre won via unanimous decision.
In an email to MMAFighting, UFC vice-president Marc Ratner, who handles the company's regulatory affairs, deferred to the Quebec commission.
Update: In a follow-up email after this piece was published, Tremblay said the commission's weigh-in rules have been in place for several years. "The regimentation on combat sports did not changed since many years," the email stated. "We don't know about the other commissions' procedures."