Last Saturday, the UFC orchestrated their largest live show ever, filling the Rogers Centre in Toronto with 55,000 adoring fans screaming for fellow Canadian fighters like Georges St-Pierre, Mark Bocek, and Mark Hominick.
It was a historic night sutured with incredible bouts, memorable finishes and a lackluster main event defense by the sport’s premiere poster boy Canadian St-Pierre.
Once the decision was rendered after GSP’s hand was raised at the end of the fifth round, fans immediately balked at the champion’s fourth consecutive unanimous decision defense, wondering if he has what it takes to be a memorable champion.
A superfight with middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva, has be desirable for the last year, but after such an uninspiring victory over a one dimensional challenger, most pundits question whether St-Pierre would have the heart and power to deal with the Spider’s ferocious striking.
UFC president Dana White has mentioned in numerous interviews that both Silva and St-Pierre would have to collect victories at UFC 126 and 129—both have been accomplished, one more astounding than the other.
Now that both champions have disposed their respective challengers, does the UFC brass really want to send it’s cautious bread-winner to the “spider wolf” that lingers at 185 lbs?
Regardless if you think GSP’s wrestling could dictate a fight against the Brazilian or not, even in his later 30’s, Anderson possesses strength, size and striking that would cause obstacles for the smaller opponent.
In addition, timing is a factor along with the fact that St-Pierre has been hesitant about moving up to middleweight in some of his recent interviews, Zuffa boss man Lorenzo Fertitta tweeted a post-fight question asking fans if they would rather see GSP vs. Anderson or GSP vs. Nick Diaz.
Apparently, an overwhelming amount of spectators—including myself—voted for the latter.
Does the UFC really have many options at welterweight now? St-Pierre has either fought the current “contenders” already and beat them with little effort or needs to fight a cross-promotional belt holder.
As incredible as it would be to watch the lead up to a GSP vs. Nick Diaz fight, the actual fight, the finish, the post fight presser, this potential bout has its own complications as well. Once news broke of Zuffa purchasing Strikeforce, the media renzy began to speculate who from the UFC should fight who from Strikefoce.
Needless to say, there are numerous co-promotional matches that would have the intrigue to draw big numbers and make fans salivate.
Beyond having current heavyweight destroyer and champion Alistair Overeem and Cain Velasquez fight, many enthusiasts started clamoring for Diaz vs. GSP as their first choice after Jake Shields, due to Diaz’ stubborn forward movement and his ability to “not be scared.”
That’s a humorous generalization of course, but not too many challengers have solved Diaz’ stand up puzzle. Even if the fight gets to the ground, the Cesar Gracie protégée boasts a black belt in the ground art and has proven himself many times on the mat in MMA.
Unfortunately, Nick Diaz will not be GSP’s next challenger either.
Unlike a potential fight with Anderson, Diaz has contractual obligations with Showtime via Strikeforce, which Dana White has made clear the UFC has no plans of disrupting—at the moment anyways.
I’m not lawyer—god knows my wallet wishes I was—but I wouldn’t be surprised if Zuffa has a few loopholes they could exploit if they were really interested in getting fighters like Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez in the octagon sooner.
Let’s assume Strikeforce’s Showtime contracts have another year and the UFC doesn’t have plans to disband them as soon as possible—that means no Nick Diaz.
Who's really next for GSP?
When discussing the possibility of Diaz or Silva, the time factor also has to be weighed into the equation. Contractually, Diaz wouldn’t be ready for another year or so and Anderson is rumored to be fighting contender Yushin Okami on the Rio card this summer.
Will the UFC really shelve St-Pierre for a year or more to wait out the other two fighters’ predicaments? I highly doubt that will happen. GSP will be fighting at least once more before the year ends. But, against who, it’s hard to say—the top regular top contenders have already been eradicated.
To avoid tedious repeats, let’s delete Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Sean Sherk and Matt Serra. What does the welterweight division have left?
Scraping at the bottom of the welterweight barrel with Jon Fitch vs. BJ Penn 2, scrapped due to double injury, the only contender fight ready to produce a realistic challenger (I use this word loosely) is ex-WEC champion Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim scheduled for UFC 132.
Maybe on paper, an argument could be made for Nate Marquardt vs. Anthony Johnson. Unfortunately, the favorite to win in that contest is very unlikely to face his longtime Greg Jackson training partner.
In summary, the most realistic challenger to Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title will more than likely go to Carlos Condit.
Fans, get excited for GSP’s sixth consecutive decision defense….