With Georges St-Pierre retaining his welterweight crown Saturday night at UFC 154, the UFC welterweight division is in disarray, despite a definitive champion and number one contender in place.
Prior to Saturday’s outstanding bout, UFC Welterweight champion GSP had been out of the cage for nearly 20 months. In the meantime, fellow Greg Jackson product Carlos Condit defeated Nick Diaz for the Interim Welterweight title, as GSP’s return date, and future was in doubt.
With the victory over Condit behind him, the MMA world has focused its attention on the Georges St-Pierre/ Anderson Silva bout that has been teased for years. With no big money fights remaining at Middleweight on the horizon, Anderson Silva seems very open to fighting GSP, although a weight, or time frame has yet to be discussed. Silva has personally stated that he would prefer the fight towards the end of 2013, as opposed to the rumored date of May.
Here in lies the dilemma which the UFC faces. Johny Hendricks, who scored a major knockout victory over Martin Kampmann (his third major victory in a year), had previously stated that if he were to win, he would wait out a potential GSP/ Silva super fight, and take his title match at a later date. Dana White, however, was against this, saying Hendricks will likely either fight GSP, or another contender (in the event GSP/Silva does occur)
We’ll play fantasy matchmaker, here. If GSP/Silva isn’t booked for May, the situation is quite simple; Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks for the UFC Welterweight Title. While this will surely upset a legion of fans pining for the super fight, it would be an acceptable replacement.
However, if Hendricks is forced to fight again before facing GSP, the prime candidate, in my mind would be Nick Diaz. Originally slated to face GSP one year ago, before being removed due to disciplinary reasons, Diaz has a huge fan-following, but hasn’t fought a wrestler, much less one with Hendricks’ credentials, in years. While Hendricks certainly qualifies to be the number one contender, a Diaz- Hendricks fight would be a win-win situation for the UFC. If Diaz won, it would set up the GSP-Diaz match pegged for late 2011, which was cancelled. If Hendricks were to win, and he most certainly has the tools to do so, it would give Hendricks yet another win over a high profile opponent, and make him an even bigger pay-per-view draw. While Josh Koscheck has been publicly asking for the Diaz bout, if he were to win, it likely wouldn’t put him any closer to a title shot, having lost to GSP twice.
Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann, both coming off of losses at UFC 154 may be headed towards a re-match. Options are limited, and aside from Josh Koscheck against Kampmann, there may be few remaining fresh matchups to make at the top of the division. Condit could just as easily face Jake Ellenberger in a re-match as well, as their 2009 fight was a very close, split decision win for Condit.
Ideally, Silva/GSP, Hendricks/Diaz, Condit/Kampmann II, and Koscheck/Ellenberger would all be huge fights, and is personally the route I would go. With Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia, as well as Rory MacDonald vs. BJ Penn already booked, the welterweight division is strong, and only looking up.
On another note, there were many upset fans over Anderson Silva not entering the cage post-fight last night, to call out GSP, or vice-versa, with some saying one of the two needed to “make the first move”. No need to worry, Dana White will make the first move, and if he doesn’t, the dollar signs will. This fight will go down. Bank on it.
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