St. Pierre rattles UFC’s cage; White comes out swinging

Just a few weeks ago, UFC president Dana White said he planned on respecting former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre’s request for space as he continues his hiatus from the sport.

White said he hadn’t talked with or spoken much about St. Pierre, who announced he would be stepping away from fighting shortly after a controversial decision victory over Johny Hendricks in November. St. Pierre said he wanted to deal with personal issues and what he called the stresses of being the champion.

After an odd interview St. Pierre did with reporters in Canada last week, the silence has been broken.

St. Pierre lamented the lack of progress made by the sport, and the UFC in particular, to contain the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He also called the UFC a monopoly.

St. Pierre’s comments about PEDs have drawn the most attention, as he cited the issue as one of the reasons for his break from fighting.

St. Pierre tried to get Hendricks to agree to mutual testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency before their fight. Hendricks offered to instead go through the more established World Anti-Doping Agency. In part, Hendricks said St. Pierre’s close association with VADA made the organization a biased party in the process.

In the end, they fought under the usual testing procedures of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

“I tried to change things, and unfortunately — maybe for money reasons, maybe for image — they were not ready to do that,” St. Pierre said.

White said he was “shocked” when he heard St. Pierre’s comments.

“This whole Georges St. Pierre thing is shocking, weird and it’s insane,” White said on the post-fight show after UFC Fight Night 35 on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday.

“I heard Georges St-Pierre is upset that I thought Johny Hendricks won the fight and didn’t like a lot of the things I said at the post-fight press conference,” White said. “Well, be a man and pick up the phone or let’s talk face to face.”

White said St. Pierre never mentioned the issues when they met after St. Pierre’s fight against Hendricks.

■ LESNAR SPECULATION — White hinted at a possible UFC return for former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar, 36, returned to professional wrestling after suffering a second straight first-round knockout loss in December 2011.

Rumors of a potential Lesnar return swirled around the time of UFC 168 last month. White wouldn’t comment then, but opened up about the possibility following UFC Fight Night 35.

“He has some regrets,” White said. “Would he like to fight again? I’m sure he would. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out. It’s definitely a possibility.”

White was referencing Lesnar’s battle with diverticulitis, a stomach condition that caused him to miss about a year of fighting after emergency surgery in 2009. Though it hadn’t been diagnosed, White said Lesnar never felt right and wasn’t competing at his top level because of it. He was still able to win the heavyweight championship.

“He became the heavyweight champion with diverticulitis. What would he have done without it?” White said. “He feels like Brock Lesnar at 100 percent could have been better.

“It was fun having Brock here.”

■ WSOF 8 RESULTS — Justin Gaethje remained unbeaten in 11 professional fights and became the first lightweight champion in the World Series of Fighting with a first-round knockout of Rich Patishnock on a card Saturday night at Hollywood, Fla. It was the eighth event for the Las Vegas-based organization.

Gaethje overwhelmed Patishnock from the opening bell and needed just 69 seconds to finish him off.

Also, Jessica Aguilar became the first women’s strawweight champion with a submission by arm-triangle choke over Alida Gray in the first round.

Former UFC welterweight Anthony Johnson knocked out Mike Kyle in the first round of a light heavyweight bout.

■ JACKSON IN TOURNEY — Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will compete in the upcoming Bellator light heavyweight tournament. He will face former Bellator champion Christian M’Pumbu in the opening round Feb. 28 at Mohegan Sun in Montville, Conn., the organization confirmed in a release Monday.

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal will fight Mikhail Zayats in another opening-round bout on the card. The winner of the tournament secures a title shot.

Jackson left the UFC after three straight losses when his contract expired last January. He said he is excited about the tournament format.

“This is what Bellator is all about,” Jackson said in a statement. “I’ve never felt better, and now it’s about getting the belt. Bellator is all about the tournaments, and if that’s what you need to do to get that belt, that’s what I’m going to do. M’Pumbu is up first, and when I finish him, it’s King Mo or Zayats, and then it’s onto the belt, simple as that.”

Bellator events air on Spike TV (Cable 29).

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.