There isn’t an MMA fan out there that wouldn’t drool over a catchweight bout between current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and current middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The bout’s been discussed, hypothetically, for years now, and both men look to be two steps ahead of their respective packs.
GSP returned to the fold last night at UFC 154 after more than a year and a half away from the cage, and while he didn’t appear quite as fluid as has come to be expected (not a surprise given his time away from competition), he got the job done convincingly while winning a unanimous decision.
Carlos Condit, the interim champ, just didn’t have much for the greatest welterweight in history.
The French Canadian dominated the majority of the bout, working good movement, powerful strikes and well-timed takedowns to his benefit. The versatility in his attack was quite impressive, and the man actually abandoned his outright “safe” fighting approach; GSP attempted to finish, frequently.
While the stoppage evaded the champion, his offense didn’t go unnoticed. GSP hit Condit with a series of powerful shots that would have likely folded a foe with weaker resolve. Condit’s a tough guy who reminded fans that he can take a punch rather well. He also reminded everyone watching that he cannot be considered out of the fight until the referee has intervened or the final bell sounds.
Down two rounds, Condit entered the third frame aiming to continue applying pressure to the champion. He did so to great success, as his fists created an opening for a big left high kick that hit GSP flush on the noggin.
GSP went floundering to the canvas, Condit pounced and the MMA world held its collective breath as the fight appeared to be on the cusp of conclusion. But GSP held on, regained his wits and quickly changed the tide once again.
A big reversal from the champion proved pivotal. Condit’s momentum was pulled to a halt just moments after gaining steam. Georges St-Pierre would handily outwork “The Natural Born Killer” for the remainder of the fight.
GSP proved his worth as a champion last night. The champ did his job and did it well. While he was unable to put the challenger away, he did showcase clear domination and fought for more than points. GSP fought like a hungry young champion eager to impress his employers and his fans. Let’s hope that tank is the one who shows up when it comes time to once again defend the 170-pound strap.
And GSP will indeed defend that welterweight belt.
He’s not heading north to middleweight anytime soon, and realistically he shouldn’t be. He’s got a comfortable home at welterweight, and he’s got a string of new challengers who look as though they may actually possess the tools required to upset GSP.
A superfight with Anderson Silva would make for an amazing treat. I want to see it, and I think most others do as well. However, for GSP, there’s more risk than reward attached to that proposed collision.
If GSP defeats Anderson Silva, he takes hold of the top-pound-for-pound spot and he proves that the most feared man on the planet is just that: still a man, whether his performances look more godly than human or not.
However, a loss to Anderson could potentially thwart any forward career movement for GSP. GSP is a sturdy dude, but if there’s anything that will make him question himself, it’s the loss of a fight; especially if that loss happens to come via knockout, which it more than likely would against a man like “The Spider.”
Anderson isn’t going to dominate GSP for 25 minutes, so you can toss the idea of a unanimous decision in the Brazilian’s favor out the window. If he beats GSP, he more than likely does so in stunningly brutal fashion.
I shudder to think of what another knockout loss would do to St-Pierre’s mindset. The man has clearly shown the world he’s a better fighter when confident. He’s more exciting, less hesitant to unleash powerful attacks, and generally a bit riskier. These are a few key things required to make a fight exciting.
I believe GSP is well aware of the imminent dangers that arrive with a fight against Anderson Silva. I also think he’s well aware of the growth of the welterweight division.
Had Carlos Condit been the only quality foe remaining in the welterweight ranks, we probably wouldn’t even be discussing this. But the 170-pound division is, arguably, deeper than it’s ever been.
Johny Hendricks made a powerful statement last night by turning precision striker Martin Kampmann into a B-action movie bit player. Seriously, the Dane went flying across the cage after “Bigg Rigg” landed a mean left hook that left little more than brief blackness in his line of sight.
Johny Hendricks has earned the right to be labeled the next title contender. Fans love exciting fights and savage finishes, and Johny Hendricks delivers both.
Rory MacDonald still has plenty of buzz working in his favor, and should he make it past B.J. Penn at UFC on Fox 5, he’ll be right in the mix to challenge for divisional gold.
Who knows what becomes of Nick Diaz, but assuming he makes a successful return once his suspension (from another failed drug test) has expired, then he’s arguably the most marketable selection for a shot at the crown.
GSP and Diaz have already shown some disdain for one another; just about everyone would love a chance to see them settle their differences like professionals.
A second tier of significant talent also lurks at 170.
Jake Ellenberger, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck are all still dangerous fighters who could conceivably snag victory from the hands of the champ. Erick Silva may still prove to be the future of the welterweight division. Remember, after all, that he actually did fairly well against the best Jon Fitch (the two met at UFC 153) the world has ever seen.
There are simply too many options at welterweight for St-Pierre to contemplate vacating the title. At this point, the anxious, aggressive GSP has returned, and with the lineup of opponents that sit on the horizon, it’s tough to imagine “Rush” becoming complacent again in the near future
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