Photo Credit: mmafighting.com
After watching the longtime, reigning defending undisputed welterweight kingpin Georges St.Pierre walk out of the octagon a battered and almost beaten man at UFC 167 in November of 2013 one began to wonder will Georges ever be back?
We got our answer.
On November 4th Georges St.Pierre returned to the octagon and won the UFC Middleweight Title in emphatic fashion as he dropped Michael Bisping with a hard left hook and then finished him off with a beautifully timed and placed rear naked choke. Most MMA analysts saw this as a real test and fellow fighters agreed, such as the former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, who doubted which GSP we would see: Would it be the same guy that dominated for so many years? Or the washed up fighter that should have stayed home. For the most part the former champion didn't miss a beat. There were a few moments in the fight in which Bisping was able to touch him up especially from the bottom position but nonetheless "Rush" once again defied expectations and reminded us all why he alone should be considered the best of all-time. Yeah I said it. Not Anderson Silva, not Jon Jones, and not even Demetrious Johnson. The man known as "GSP" is the best to ever do it and probably always will be, but that is another debate for another day.
I just ask you to look at his resume take a look at who he beat and how he beat them. Take a look at what he has done to change the sport into the sport we know and love today. So if Georges St.Pierre is the best of all-time if he is the now kingpin of the UFC Middleweight Division.. what is next for him? There are three scenarios as to who is next for the middleweight champion. I will lay out every scenario and tell you the fight fans which scenario do I prefer the most.
Robert Whittaker: This is the most obvious scenario so let's just get this one out of the way. Whittaker won the UFC Interim Middleweight Title in a bout vs Yoel Romero at UFC 213. Let me remind you that via every avenue I have: social media, my podcast (The Thomas Take Sports Podcast), I told the world that Robert Whittaker was going to beat Yoel Romero. He did. Not only did he beat him but three judges sitting cage side unanimously agreed with me as all three judges scored the bout 48-47. It was a close fight but Whittaker was unbelievable. What he did that night has not been fully complemented so allow me. Not only did Robert Whittaker avoid the patented wrestling offense of Romero, but he did so with one knee as his other was floating around after being kicked out of place. Doctor's gave a look at the knee and realized that it was completely torn and Whittaker needed immediate surgery after the fight was over. Remarkable. "Bobby Knuckles" is the real deal and a real challenge for anybody that faces him. Will GSP unify the titles vs Whittaker? only time will tell. One thing we do know is that UFC President Dana White said that he would be "pissed" if GSP decided not to do so. Well last I checked the UFC doesn't have many PPV draws outside of the french Canadian. So Dana is not in a powerful negotiating position. Conor McGregor "may never fight again", Jon Jones is due for another court appearance, and the days of Ronda Rousey in the UFC are all but over with. The only reason Whittaker might not be the next fight for GSP is due to the fact that he is not a natural middleweight. He spoke about this specifically on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. In the post-fight interview GSP stated that "He had a hard time gaining weight" after his weight cut from 198 to the fight time weight of 185 lbs. Post weigh-in he weighed around 191 and could not get back up to 198. That is a telltale sign that he's heavily considering a return to 170, which brings me to his next option.
Tyron Woodley: The chances of this fight happening over the Whittaker fight are about even at 50-50%. Could we see this as the next fight for St. Pierre? I think it's a possibility. The only dynamic preventing this fight from happening would be that Tyron Woodley is not the biggest PPV draw. I wonder if Woodley could sell water to a thirsty man in a desert. Furthermore, if we want to talk about his championship performances they are, shall I say, not the most entertaining. I could honestly make a case that in terms of entertainment value, image and personality, he very well might be one of the worst UFC champions of all-time. Two fights vs Stephen Thompson, a draw and a fight that probably should have been a loss, plus a dull fight with Demian Maia I have a good case. Add in that the champ feels he has been under-promoted due to his skin color. This is an odd stance. For years the UFC has promoted fighters of all backgrounds. I could name a few but the list runs long. The blame should be pointed right back at himself for not entertaining the audience, while crying and saying we should be intrigued when really we have no reason to be. The only thing that can save Woodley's career in my eyes is a bout with Georges St.Pierre. This is the only fight that could legitimize his legacy as a champion. Until he fights GSP he will always be looked down upon as a fighter that never fought the best at his weight class, while feeling as if he deserves to be called the best welterweight ever. He is far from it.
Retirement: This is the option that I believe makes the most sense for Georges St.Pierre. Ask yourself this one question: What more does Georges have to prove? He defended the welterweight title nine times. He left the sport once, battered but not beaten with the welterweight title. Simply put, he went out on top. He really didn't even need to comeback. This guy just wanted to create more history and he did just that. To think that he left the sport on top the first time. He actually one upped himself. I didn't know that was possible in any sport let alone in the sport of MMA. Usually a fighter goes out on his/her face or on his/her back. Take for instance Chuck Liddell and Ronda Rousey. Both fighters were two of the biggest names in the sport for their own reasons at their own time. Both left the octagon in a state of unconsciousness. Not Georges St.Pierre. He could leave the octagon once again and owe the sport absolutely nothing. What more is there to do to prove you are the best to ever wear the UFC gloves?
Whether this is the end or the start of a new beginning I know one thing is for sure, I will either be glued to the TV for his next fight or reminiscing about the many great moments of his career forever. Only time will tell and GSP deserves time.