Only two years ago, it seemed as if Georges St-Pierre had completely cleaned out the UFC Welterweight division, and was facing a potential super fight with Anderson Silva.
Following an ACL tear, and interim title, and a long layoff, UFC Welterweight champion St-Pierre remains atop of the division. At UFC 158, GSP finally surpassed Matt Hughes’ long standing record of seven title defenses within the division. With a reign that dominant, issues are bound to occur regarding finding talent for the champion to face. Prior to Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce, this looked to be a major problem, with the entire division seemingly cleared out. UFC had GSP cage side for Anderson Silva’s bouts and the two looked poised to face off. That may end up taking even longer to come to fruition after UFC 158.
With Silva scheduled to face Chris Weidman in July, GSP squared off with bitter rival Nick Diaz at UFC 158, and dominated the bout. From wrestling, to boxing, to clinch work, GSP landed over 200 strikes on his way to another decision victory over a top 5 opponent. Over GSP’s last three fights, he’s defeated guys who held championships in EliteXC, Strikeforce, and WEC. GSP had dominated his own brand, the UFC, and challenged all comers from promotions around the world, coming out on top every time. It’s starting to look like the only way to beat GSP is to fire up UFC Undisputed 3 on the PS3, and hope someone else doesn’t pick up the controller and shoot a double leg take down with the champion.
The scenario in which St-Pierre faces now, however is much different than years past. Johny Hendricks has solidified himself as a number one contender to the title, with wins over Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, and Jon Fitch. Hendricks, two time NCAA Division I wrestling champion seems undersized at Welterweight, but possesses devastating knockout power, as showcased by his 5 KO/TKO stoppages in the UFC.
Not far behind Hendricks is Jake Ellenberger, who was originally slated to face Hendricks at UFC 158. Ellenberger, after knocking out former Strikeforce Welterweight champion Nate Marquardt, has now won 8 of his last 9 fights in the UFC, and serves as a solid replacement if Hendricks or GSP face an injury in the coming months. Rematches with Kampmann, Condit, or Rick Story, all of whom defeated Ellenberger, may be on the horizon as well.
While he didn’t compete at UFC 158, Demian Maia is quickly rising up the ranks of the Welterweight division, with a 3-0 record at 170 pounds. Maia has experienced mixed results when fighting wrestlers in the past, and at 35 years of age may have his last opportunity at a title run. Could his outstanding grappling, which has earned him an ADCC championship, stifle the ground game of GSP? Ever since being embarrassed in the Anderson Silva bout, Demian Maia has worked diligently on rounding out his game. Needless to say, GSP has work to do before cleaning out his division.
Still, potential of a super fight looms. Although Anderson Silva says he would like to sign a 10-fight contract with the UFC , he’s about to turn 38 years old. One would think the potential GSP/Silva matchup would happen before Silva turns 40, if it does. Regardless, GSP has a full plate in front of him, and it looks like he’s still hungry.
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