Dan Hardy thinks Georges St-Pierre could have made things easier on the UFC by just handing the title to Johny Hendricks after UFC 167.
It may be 2014, but the UFC is still dealing with 2013 problems following the unexpected departure of its biggest star. After defeating Hendricks by a controversial split decision in November, St-Pierre announced in December that he would be vacating the UFC welterweight title and going on an extended hiatus.
UFC President Dana White expected him to at least stick around long enough to offer Hendricks an immediate rematch, but problems between St-Pierre and the UFC ran much deeper than an ongoing feud with Hendricks.
When speaking with the French media (h/t MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani), St-Pierre admitted that a major reason for him leaving had to do with the UFC’s passive approach on pre-fight drug testing.
There was also White’s shocking behavior at the UFC 167 post-fight press conference where he made the outlandish claims that St-Pierre owed the UFC and fans.
Hardy has trained with and competed against St-Pierre. When speaking with Fight Now TV, he gave his take on the current state of the welterweight division following the fallout from UFC 167:
I think it left the whole division and the whole situation kind of awkward because a lot of people weren't happy with the decision [over Hendricks]. A lot of people don't feel like GSP's in a situation right now where he can just step away from the sport because there are a lot of questions left unanswered.
After St-Pierre’s announcement, White announced Hendricks would be competing against Robbie Lawler for the vacant title at UFC 171 on March 15. It’s an unlikely world title bout in a division that has been dominated by an all-time great for the last five years.
Perhaps change is just what the doctor ordered for the UFC welterweight division.
For years, fans have salivated over the idea of St-Pierre moving up to 185-pounds and opening opportunities for fighters at 170-pounds. The entire welterweight division will basically start from scratch and feature new stars. It presents a rare opportunity for the UFC to build new talent and offer fresh contenders.
As for St-Pierre, Hardy can’t help but feel disappointed with the way things ended. He feels like handing the title over to Hendricks would have been the right thing to do after UFC 167.
The only thing I'm uncomfortable with is the way it was finished, the way it came to an end. I watched the press conference and, for me, the best thing to do would have been for Georges to walk out, hand Johny Hendricks the belt and say, ‘I'm done for a while, and when I want the belt back I'll come and get it.’ Just left it at that.
Regardless if the commission would have overturned the decision and awarded [Hendricks] the champion, which I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have done. It would have left the number one and two contender spots there to compete for a belt that’s been vacated, and it also makes Georges St-Pierre look like a superhero.
It is often said in sports that you have to beat the man to be the man. Regardless of personal opinion, Hendricks didn’t defeat St-Pierre at UFC 167. Two of the three judges scored the contest 48-47 in favor of St-Pierre.
Hardy’s points are definitely noted, but it’s hard to imagine any top-tier UFC fighter being comfortable with having a world title handed to them, especially a hard-working individual like Hendricks.