"GSP will not retire," said White. "He will not retire after that fight. He owes it to the fans, he owes it to this company, and he owes it to Johny Hendricks to come in and do that fight again."


Of all the possible follow-ups—What the fuck is wrong with you? or How the fuck does he owe anyone anything? or Aren't you concerned about a disoriented St-Pierre having just vividly described what certainly sound like the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury?—Helwani went to, "Immediate rematch?"

"Yes," said White. "The right thing needs to be done here."

6) The problem with criticizing White is that anyone who knows enough about this sport and how he controls it to care is every bit as complicit as he is. I've talked to fighters who are clearly suffering the effects of having competed; I know that the sport is probably as dangerous as football or boxing, and perhaps more so, and all this makes me aware that spending money on it, or writing about it as anything other than an atavism, is indefensible save on some lines about how people can do what they like with their bodies as long as it's consensual, which is true enough but also an evasion of the question, which isn't about whether people have the right to do this but whether they should, and whether anyone should watch it. White is horrifyingly crass, but it's hard to discern any real moral difference between his assertion that there will be a rematch and my willingness to watch one, and he at least has the virtue of sparing everyone any feigned concern.


7) That said, White is an utter embarrassment. At a press conference after the fight, he repeated his point about all the many people to whom St-Pierre owes things, and when someone asked whether it wouldn't be worth finding out what the champion is thinking before trashing him, he said, "No. No it wouldn't." He talked about how much money St-Pierre makes—$12 million a year, reportedly—and how he has a right to retire but not a right to take time off, and how his camp obviously "had some sort of plan," and all sorts of other things, and it had to occur to you that this was capitalism, pustulating right there in front of a crowd of reporters and hangers on who laughed at his wittier rejoinders, many of whom surely thought that you had to admit that he was right, and that St-Pierre did owe something to someone.

About 40 minutes into the press conference, St-Pierre arrived, having come from the hospital, his face ruined. Everyone wanted to know if he'd just retired, what was going on, what he had to say.

"I just came out of a freaking war," he said. "The guy hit like a truck, you know. My brain got bashed left and right inside my skull, so I just need to think, see what's going to happen. I get very emotional."


To his right, Rashad Evans, who for years worked under some of the same trainers St-Pierre did, looked deeply concerned. Maybe he wasn't; I don't know. Someone asked St-Pierre if he felt he had a responsibility to fight Hendricks again.

"I need to make a point, man," St-Pierre said. "I can't, I can't sleep at night now. I'm going crazy. I have issues, man. I need to relax. I need to get out for a while. I don't know what I'm going to do. I feel like I'm going to let everything out now, but I have to keep some of my stuff, some part of my life, personal."


Someone asked if this was an extension of something St-Pierre has talked about in the past, the way he obsesses over each opponent, and lets all the variables, the calculations of what might happen in a fight, consume him. He was about to answer, and then White cut him off.

"Don't answer that question," he said. "Don't ask him that question any more. He doesn't want to answer that question."


"What happened in the fight," St-Pierre said a bit later, "at one point I couldn't see with—it happens sometimes, with my eyes, I don't know, I get punched and one of my vision in my right eye became blurry. It's still blurry right now. And, yeah—it happened quite a while, but he punch very, very hard. He's the hardest puncher I've ever seen. He hit like a truck. I was hurt. I'm not an egomaniac, I say it. When I'm hurt, I'm hurt, and he hurt me a lot tonight. Look at me."

They asked if Hendricks had made him more uncomfortable than anyone else ever had.


"At one point I lost count of the fight, you know," he said. "It was a war. I dig into my resources, my energy to give the best I could, and it took me a lot of courage. I was hurt and I keep going."

8) A bit after the press conference was over, after White had had a chance to talk privately to St-Pierre, a group of reporters gathered around White so that he could take more questions, about what they'd talked about and what was going on. The most popular fighter in the sport had just said he didn't really want to fight, and described anxiety, occasional loss of vision, and memory loss, as well as a concrete awareness that fighting involves suffering traumatic brain injury. White expressed an easy confidence that he'd be back soon enough.


"His problems," he said, "aren't as bad as he thinks they are."

Photo: Associated Press/Isaac Brekken