These days, it seems you wake up each day and read about yet another injured fighter forced to withdraw from a highly anticipated fight. While injuries are normal and inevitable at times in such a sport and its training regiments, it becomes a scheduling nightmare when paired with rankings and contenders.
Georges St Pierre is the current UFC Welterweight champion, a title he has held for many years. However, due to injuries, he was forced to withdraw from fighting and ultimately has been sidelined for over a year. His return date is not definite yet, but GSP has not fought since April of 2011 and is not expected to return until late this year.
With the champion sidelined, the UFC issued an Interim belt that was won by Carlos Condit, after being shuffled around himself. After winning, Condit decided to wait for the Canadian superstar to get back on his feet.
But in the workings of the welterweight division, other contenders are making their case for what they think are the most deserving credentials.
With a champion sidelined, and an interim champion wanting to wait, something has to give.
Martin Kampmann has made a case for himself to rematch Condit for the interim belt, after disposing of three opponents in a row. Out of the 14 most recent fights in Condit’s career, he has only lost once since 2006. That was a split decision to Martin Kampmann. Obviously, the score being settled appeals to both parties, but Kampmann is not the only one who is making his case.
Unexpectedly coming out of left field is the rise of Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is on a four-fight winning streak and has only lost once in his career. The big staple of his case for a shot at the title or interim title is the fact that he has beaten both Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, a claim only one other man in the world can make…Georges St. Pierre.
Hendricks was also given permission to wait for the winner of GSP vs. Condit, but because of the uncertainty of a return time for GSP and the restlessness of the division and fans, something has to move forward.
Condit has a choice now to face either Kampmann or Hendricks and try to defend his reserved spot for GSP. Some might argue that Kampmann and Hendricks should fight. It could happen, but both men feel they have earned an interim title shot at the very least.
Some might feel that if Condit is the true No. 1 contender, he should be able to dispose of Kampmann or Hendricks, but it is also understandable that he would want to wait for GSP. Condit was thrown around by the unfortunate events of the whole GSP/Diaz/Condit debacle, and he was promised the title shot against GSP.
As a worthwhile aside, it will be interesting to see where Rory MacDonald will stand if he beats BJ Penn, and if GSP will have a return fight date in place yet. When all is said and done, who knows what will happen with Nick Diaz into 2013?
After all is said and done, the UFC brass, the fans, Kampmann and Hendricks are all pushing for the forward progression of the 170 lbs division. Their fighting is their livelihood, and career decisions should never be taken lightly; but something has to give, and it looks like it might fall on Condit’s shoulders.