If at first you get dominated for five straight rounds in a mixed martial arts (MMA) prize fight, hit up your lawyer to continue the battle outside the cage to help make up for the disappointing performance.
That's apparently the route that Nick Diaz intends to take in the wake of "Weight Gate," whose legal counsel, Jonathan Tweedale, today issued a lengthy statement (via MMA.tv) that -- for all intents and purposes -- pokes serious holes in the weak response (read it here) that the Quebec Athletic Commission provided in regard to its curious decimal drama.
In short, prior to UFC 158, which took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on March 16, 2013, a UFC official, speaking on behalf of the commission, was videotaped, most likely without his knowledge, informing Diaz moments before he was scheduled to step on the scale about an "off the record type of thing" wherein he could weigh up to 170.9 pounds for his Welterweight title fight against division champion Georges St. Pierre.
Oddly, him and St. Pierre -- and only Diaz and St. Pierre -- would also be afforded an extra hour if needed to get below 171 pounds if either one of them came in heavy.
It was an odd conversation (watch it here), which made it appear that perhaps the commission was anticipating St. Pierre -- who we learned later was sick and injured heading into the main event -- would struggle to hit 170 pound threshold on the button. Aside from the video, no other evidence suggests that the commission was bending the rules for its hometown MMA hero; in fact, previous UFC weigh in events under its authority never included "the decimal."
Regardless, Tweedale shredded the commission's response in a lengthy statement, suggesting that the rules were manipulated in favor of the hometown fighter:
"The Quebec Commission’s statement is a disappointing admission that the March 16 event was not conducted under the rules applicable to a UFC title fight – or under the rules the fighters contractually agreed to, upon which rules Mr. Diaz was entitled to rely under his bout agreement.
Section 168 of the Regulation respecting combat sports provides that the maximum weight that a fighter must achieve at the official weigh-in shall be determined in advance by contract – and if the fighter does not make the contracted weight – in this case 170 pounds – then 20% of his purse or "the contestant’s remuneration" will be deducted and paid to his opponent (subsections (7) and (8)).
The contracted weight for this fight was 170 pounds. 170.9 is not 170, anywhere in the world, for a title fight. There is no question what "170 pounds" means, in the bout agreement, as a matter of contractual interpretation.
The Quebec Commission deliberately relaxed the rule in this case and, by its own admission, allowed their home-town fighter to "make weight" even if he weighed more than the contracted weight.
The Commission’s statement that their Regulation "does not take decimals into account" is bizarre and untrue. Section 74 of the Regulation provides that at an official weigh-in, "[t]he scale shall have graduated readings at each 100 g (3.6 oz) and shall be certified by Measurement Canada." There would be no need to have graduated readings at each 100 g if the Commission "does not take decimals into account."
It's not a stretch to believe that the official, for whatever reason, made a serious error in judgement informing Diaz in the manner in which he did, seemingly waiting until the very last minute to reveal an otherwise insignificant technicality.
Tweedale's by-the-book argument is spot on.
However, would one pound have made a difference in the fight between Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz? Not at all. In fact, Diaz could have weighed 10 more pounds than "Rush" and probably would have achieved a similar result. He was simply outclassed by the French-Canadian on perhaps his worst night in a half-decade.
The video alone probably would have been enough to stoke controversy because, well, it rightfully did. However, Diaz and his legal eagle took it one step further with the statement, which also included bold claims of drug test rigging, one that Diaz himself floated shortly after the UFC 158 press conference.
And if that wasn't far enough, Tweedale called for an immediate rematch at 170 pounds or requested that St. Pierre vacate his coveted strap.
"Further serious irregularities including, inter alia, the Quebec Commission's failure to supervise fighters' provision of samples in connection with testing for Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods (under sections 71.1 to 71.6 of the Regulation), will be set out in an official complaint that will be filed imminently.
In the circumstances, Mr. St-Pierre remains legally and ethically obligated to fight Mr. Diaz at 170 pounds or else vacate the belt in favor of those prepared to fight at welterweight."
Perhaps Tweedale is intelligently packing his client a parachute, chumming the waters of impropriety and gross negligence in the event that Diaz fails his post-fight drug test, one that he didn't think he'd be asked to take nor did he seem overly concerned about passing with flying colors despite his checkered past with marijuana (read more here). If the commission bungled the weigh in and then made "serious" mistakes with the supervision of drug tests, then his client should not be punished if his urine returns positive.
Theoretically speaking, of course.
Indeed, that's pure speculation, but a possibility. There is always the distant possibility that the athletic commission tipped the scales in St. Pierre's favor, quite literally, to improve his chances of winning. Regardless of the actual intentions, if any, one thing that most can agree on is that the commission made a serious blunder, right, wrong or indifferent.
However, the fact remains that it all boils down to decimal points. And Diaz needed a baseball bat to stop St. Pierre at UFC 158. Everything else before, during and after the outcome just reeks of paranoia, desperation and immaturity.
But worth a shot, eh?