No matter how you twist your brain, the UFC welterweight division is in a state of disrepair now that the welterweight title eliminator to crown a new No. 1 contender has now washed out. With many contenders booked or not in a situation to contend further for the title.
Joe Silva now faces the task of using the UFC hype machine to build a challenger worthy of a champion as great as Georges St. Pierre, and he likely only has six months do it.
Let's take a look at his options.
No. 1 Jon Fitch
Jon was completely, and spectacular obliterated for 25 minutes in his first match with GSP at UFC 87 Seek and Destroy. Since that time, he's picked up solid wins over Akihiro Gono and Paulo Thiago.
He's next scheduled to fight at UFC 106 against Ricardo Almeida, considering the shape of the division at current that win could be enough to earn the title shot.
No. 2 Martin Kampmann
The Danish Kick boxer dropped from 185 after a couple of shaky performances against Drew McFedries and Nate Marquardt. Since he's defeated Alex Barros, and scored a somewhat controversial split decision victory over Carlos Condit.
He'll take on Paul Daley at UFC 103. A fight that will be hard to justify as a title shot making fight.
No. 3 Mike Swick
After being defeated at UFC 69: Shootout, The Ultimate Fighter season one alumni has amassed a number of fairly big wins over Josh Burkman, Marcus Davis, Jonathan Goulet, and Ben Saunders.
The title eliminator pull out leaves Mike in a tough spot with others ahead of him scheduled to fight. It'll be interesting to see how Mr. Silva handles him. An opponent that could be scheduled would be Matt Hughes, but with no specifics on Swick's injury, I'm just throwing darts.
No. 4 Dan Hardy
The Brit seemly built without a mental filter, seems to be a guy on the rise in ZUFFA headquarters, 3-0 in the UFC, and winner of seven in a row.
Dan Hardy could vault himself into the title frame with a potential victory over Dong Hung Kim at UFC 105, getting the extra special Michael Bisping treatment.
No. 5 Thiago Alves
The Pit bull looked more like Charlie Brown than an actual opponent to GSP at UFC 100. try as he might, and as often as he got back to his feet his short stature finally caught up with him.
He's scheduled to fight Paulo Thiago at UFC 107 in December. A win there and he'd still be a ways out of the title picture.
No. 6 Karo Parisiyan
The outspoken Hollywood native, has lived on his meandering, in your face Judo game to throw around fighters in the UFC for quite a while now, amassing a 8-3 record.
The highly marketable Parisiyan has a catalog of high quality fights. A victory against highly thought of prospect Dustin Hazlett would definitely add himself to the list of rematch fodder if all else fails.
Putting myself in Joe Silva's tiny, tiny shoes
Georges has stated that with his groin injury suffered at UFC 100, and the fact that he's in need of a prolonged rest, I'm targeting UFC 112, most likely in February or March, would be the likely landing spot for my Welterweight champion.
This is a big deal as it removes Swick and Alves from proceedings. No venue has reached my ears yet, so keep that in mind. If 112 is in England, for example, that means Dan Hardy immediately becomes first choice for example, and likewise if the UFC goes to Europe for Kampmann.
Most likely though I'd have some say in the process. So I'm not worried about playing to the crowd at this date.
Right now, I'd probably be planning for Jon Fitch to be my new No. 1 contender, despite being throttled by GSP at 87, that was over year ago, and while I don't have the slightest inclinations that it will have a better outcome for Fitch, or the fact it'll be an overly exciting fight.
Fitch's only loss in the UFC has been to the current champion. In the absence of any better options, he deserves his rematch.
So I'd phone him, and ZUFFA offices and tell them to sell the fight accordingly.
Should that not go as planned (as nothing seems to these days), then Matt Hughes would again have to play king maker.
If Swick goes down in flames as well, then I'd have no choice but to move St Pierre to a summer date with Anderson Silva.
Selling a Kampmann fight would be impossible in this situation, and barring a trip to England in the cards, in this area, Dan Hardy is totally unmarketable.
In my opinion, this is the only reasonable way of handling it. Is it perfect? No. But with the state the division is in at current it just makes the most sense. And that's the best you can hope for right now.