It's no secret that unless one of the seven reigning UFC world champions gets dethroned by his next challenger, the "magnificent seven" of the UFC should maintain their hold on their gold for quite a long time. Don't believe it? Look at the current reign of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre has defended his belt six times and looks to make it a seventh at UFC 154, but he will be coming off of rehabbing a torn ACL to face Carlos Condit. As if that were not enough, St-Pierre's arch-rival and former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz is still serving a drug-related suspension. Diaz is not the only fighter currently on suspension, however, as Alistair Overeem also serves a suspension for a positive test which showed elevated levels of testosterone.
Diaz and Overeem will return some time in 2013, likely after St-Pierre's defense against Condit, and all in all, the return of all three fighters cannot come soon enough. What's the reason for this? For those of you who have stayed with us so far in 2012, you already know why. For those unfamiliar with why, let me give you the short version.
Simply put, the UFC welterweight division has hit a logjam with the absence of St-Pierre and Diaz. In their absences, Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks rose through the ranks, with no clear indication of which man holds the most solid case towards his shot at the title. Not only that, but also keep in mind that Diaz is still a contender at 170 pounds, as well as one of the most polarizing and most must-see welterweights right now, and to top it all off, he's a fighter who GSP still has a vendetta against for comments Diaz made after his UFC 137 win over BJ Penn.
As for Overeem, there's no question as to why we can't wait to see him back. He's a machine in the cage or the ring, he is one of MMA's most vaporizing heavyweight strikers right now, and despite his positive test and failed hearing, many still feel he presents a serious threat to reigning champion Junior dos Santos. Most motivating is the rivalry he and Dos Santos have going on, which has dos Santos talking about how much he wants to beat Overeem down before "Cigano" even steps into the Octagon for his rematch with Cain Velasquez at UFC 155.
With all the heat involving these three, their next challengers building up, and with all the combustible elements clearly in abundance for some real fire in the fights that await us in the last quarter of 2012 and 2013, it's no wonder why we want to see these three back in the Octagon sooner than later. GSP needs to defend his throne, Diaz, needs to re-establish himself as the only "real" threat to the belt, and Overeem needs to work his way towards settling the score with dos Santos.
I know I speak for a strong and vocal portion of the MMA world when I say these fights cannot come soon enough, and we cannot wait for the fireworks when these three return to the Octagon.