St-Pierre is hobbled by a knee injury, causing some to cry for the UFC to take his belt.
MMA personalities, fans and bloggers across the internet have been seriously discussing something lately. Something big. This previously absurd notion would be one of the biggest actions taken by UFC brass against their fighters, ever.
Some people (gasp) want to remove Georges St-Pierre from his position as welterweight champion.
Half of this is because St-Pierre suffered a serious knee injury last December, and has not fought since April 2011, causing what some are calling a “logjam” in the UFC's welterweight division.
The other half is because of Carlos Condit, current interim champion, wanting to wait until November (when GSP is estimated to return) to face him. Neither of these things are sitting well with fans.
It should be stated that the idea of stripping titles is not especially new. Belts have, after all, been forcibly taken from champions in the past and Frank Mir's reign as champion ended because of injuries from a road accident.
The people calling for this have become louder than ever before in the last few weeks, though. Their cries got even more emphatic when news hit that Dominick Cruz had also suffered a knee injury which will keep him out of the Octagon for months.
Regardless, the arguments presented by Cesar Gracie, various sports writers, and keyboard warriors the world over, simply do not make sense for a variety of reasons. Meanwhile, the criticism being leveled against this pair of welterweights is terribly misplaced, in large part because...
Georges St-Pierre announced that he had a torn ACL in December 2011. Shortly thereafter, the UFC arranged for Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz to fight for the interim championship at UFC 143. Obviously, Condit won and received the belt.
Condit has not fought since, and has expressed the desire to not fight again until St-Pierre returns, a notion which has irked some fans. This would most certainly be an issue, of course, if St-Pierre was a long way away from recovery and other worthy opponents were left hanging.
However, Condit actually accepted a fight, and had his first title defense scheduled, albeit for a very short time. A small caveat that many have forgotten is that just four days after Condit was belted, he agreed to terms with the UFC to face Diaz again.
The news was quickly overshadowed by word of Diaz getting in trouble (again) with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his marijuana use (again). Diaz's case was left unclosed for months dragging on from February until late May and leaving Condit in limbo with him.
Regardless, the fact that Condit agreed to a fight makes any sort of criticism of him silly. But even if Condit was waiting for GSP for an unreasonable length of time...
People tend to forgets this.
Why would Carlos Condit want to fight Georges St-Pierre in November, rather than fighting Martin Kampmann or Johny Hendricks in September?
Professional pride has something to do with it, certainly. Far and away, though, the biggest reason is money.
A title unification bout between Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre is the biggest fight that can be made for either of them. The thing to remember is that even though Condit and St-Pierre would make bundles off such a fight, the UFC stands to make a lot more than either of them.
The same goes for Dan Henderson and Jon Jones. The same goes for Nate Diaz and Ben Henderson (or Frankie Edgar).
If fighters are making money, the UFC is making way more than that. As long as the UFC's fighters are putting the company into a better position to rake in cash, do not expect anything to change. The fact that a belt is involved does not really matter because...
So what if the UFC stripped Georges St-Pierre of the belt right now? Would that actually change anything? The answer, of course, is no.
People and fighters alike would still agree that GSP is the real welterweight champion. The biggest opponent for Carlos Condit would still remain GSP. The UFC would still make the most money off of a St-Pierre vs. Condit bout.
Stripping a champion of the belt does not do anything to change the UFC's matchmaking, fan's willingness to spend, or fighters' priorities. It only serves to insult fighters. Oh, and on that note...
Remember that video back on the first slide with Carlos Condit on the MMA Hour? It ends with Bas Rutten telling Carlos Condit that he has earned the clout to say he would like to wait for a fight with GSP.
Basically all fighters agree that Condit should be allowed to wait on the condition that there is not a pile-up of contenders behind him (more on that later). Regardless, taking one of the few powers that UFC fighters actually have would not be well-received.
This would also extend to the idea of stripping champions of their belts. Becoming a professional fighter is already a rigorous process. Becoming a champion is even harder. So the idea of denying them what they have earned at random (make no mistake, injuries are random) would be terrible.
Georges St-Pierre earned that welterweight belt. Condit earned the right to choose his opponent, and GSP is ultimately the best choice because...
Outside of a rematch with Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit has not really had any sort of viable opponent. Sure, there have been fighters that could hypothetically beat Condit like Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger.
That said, “X guy could beat Y guy” is not the only thing that goes into UFC matchmaking. Shared opponents, previous fights, marketability and venue all get entered into the equation.
Think of a hypothetical Koscheck vs. Condit match. Koscheck, before losing to Johny Hendricks, was almost unanimously a top-five welterweight. On top of that, he definitely possessed the wrestling skills to out-point Condit over five rounds. The problem, of course, is that if Condit loses, it sets up for a not-at-all-exciting rematch between Koscheck and Georges St-Pierre.
For a long time, with this in mind, the only viable opponent for Condit would have been Jake Ellenberger. However, while Condit vs. Diaz II was still a possibility, Ellenberger was scheduled to fight Martin Kampmann.
It was not until the last couple weeks that two viable opponents surfaced. Those contenders being Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann. Unfortunately for them, it takes a long time to set up and promote a title fight. Long enough that Georges St-Pierre is likely to be back in time to make Condit versus either of them not worth it.
Ultimately, with all the complaining about Condit waiting, should he fight GSP at UFC 154 that would end up meaning...
Fans lately have been spoiled by Jon Jones, who earned the UFC light heavyweight belt and defended it three times in about twelve months. Most, however, tend to forget that if Carlos Condit fights Georges St-Pierre in November or December, he will still have as many fights in 2012 as most other champions.
Jose Aldo fought just twice in 2010 and 2011. The same goes for Frankie Edgar. Anderson Silva has not fought three times in a single year since 2008. Georges St-Pierre has not since 2007.
Most champions fight just twice each year. That is the pace Carlos Condit is currently set for.
Granted, people would like to see these champions fight more. However the bottom line is that a championship bout is supposed to be a big deal. It requires a legitimate opponent. It requires the right venue. It requires a lot of promotional efforts. It requires a lot of things that make it into a spectacle.
All those things take time, effort and money. Rushing Carlos Condit into fighting Johny Hendricks would simply not give enough return on investment. Forcing him, or other champions, into fights prematurely just ends up cheapening the idea of being champion.