Hey UFC! Where's the hate?

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

As I sat outside of the Better Living Centre on Wednesday, waiting to get into the UFC 129 media conference, I mentioned to my TSN Radio pal Matt Cauz that Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields have this weird “man crush” thing going on.

“Don’t they get it?” I told Matt. “Guys fighting for a world title are supposed to hate each other.”

Matt dug what I was dishing out.

“Yeah, they haven’t exactly been threatening to eat each other’s children,” he said, harkening back to the time when heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson issued similar threats towards Lennox Lewis.

Instead, St. Pierre and Shields, who fight for St. Pierre’s UFC welterweight belt on Saturday night at the Rogers Centre, act like long-lost brothers, except one speaks French and the other’s a bit of a hick. (And of course I mean that only in the nicest way.).

Leading up to Saturday’s historic bout, St. Pierre and Shields have had nothing but kind things to say about each other, and that continued at Wednesday’s media conference — although it was difficult to differentiate the media guys from the fans sometimes. But I’ll get to that later.

Shields, at one point, referred to St. Pierre as “one of the greatest fighters of all time.” St. Pierre, in turn, called Shields a “phenomenal athlete” and “a champion.”

I was waiting for Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians to show up in a flowered landau.

“Hey,” said UFC president Dana White, when asked if such civility is the norm at UFC press conferences. “Sometimes we have two guys who can’t even get near each other. But that’s very rare. This is normally what it’s like (in the UFC). The guys are very respectful. You don’t have guys up here calling each other names and all that stuff. It’s fun when that does happen, but you don’t need it to sell mixed martial arts.”

Certainly, in Toronto, they don’t have to sell the UFC. Not anymore. The sport has gone gangbusters.

It’s hard to believe that a sport once known as human cock fighting — a sport that once attracted the type of fans that gave drooling idiots a bad name — has come so far. All the combatants at Wednesday’s presser were perfect gentlemen. There weren’t any mean-looking bodyguards or threatening posses lurking about, like you see at major boxing functions. Nobody promised to eat, maim or kill anyone else, though, I must say, a little more passion would have been nice. Hell, at one point, as I glanced up at St. Pierre and the other fighters sitting on the podium, staring straight ahead, totally devoid of emotion, I couldn’t help but think about those Easter Island statues.

As for the media, well, the UFC certainly attracts an interesting group of “journalists”. Sure, the so-called “mainstream” media was out in force, but so too were a ton of those Dot.com media outlets. You know the ones ... they interview Georges St. Pierre and then ask for his autograph.

The mixed martial arts media do not hide the fact that they’re huge fans of the sport they cover. One guy actually took the microphone and proceeded to tell Dana White how great his organization is and how intelligent the fighters all are. I can’t remember if he actually asked a question.

Could you imagine that happening at a Leafs practice?

“Ron, Steve Buffery from the Toronto Sun. You’re an handsome, intelligent man with well thought-out ideas. And, oh yes, your hygiene is above reproach. Do you have anything to say about that?

“I certainly do, Steve. Lay off of the kerosene.”

One media lady stood by the podium taking pictures of pictures. Of course, my good buddy, Toronto Sun photographer Jack (The Scamp) Boland, then took pictures of her taking pictures.

It was all very strange.

And right in the middle of it all stood White, the divine leader of the UFC, wearing a T-shirt with the words ‘Jun Fan Gung Fu’ on it.

Shockingly, none of the journalists asked the UFC president if he knew how great he looked.


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