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Welterweight ruler Georges St. Pierre returned after more than 18 months of inactivity and rehabilitation at UFC 154 and dominated Carlos Condit in perhaps the champ's most thrilling title bout to date. However, with UFC boss Dana White publicly calling for GSP to square off with middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in a 2013 super fight, the MMA public can hardly discuss anything else. Since the UFC and Bellator Fighting Championships decided to play it cool for the Thanksgiving holiday, folks' fight discussions are still firmly in the super fight realm.
The much-ballyhooed St. Pierre-Silva fight has given rise to all flavors of opinion. Is GSP a coward or a shrewd businessman? Is Silva dodging Jon Jones? Is it going to happen? If so, where? Is the media unfair to St. Pierre with its constant needling? And since when does White care so much about super fights?
And, hey, let's say they did fight after all. Is MMA's all-time greatest welterweight really the dead man walking he is portrayed as being? While we're breaking down fights, could breakout 170-pound contender Johny Hendricks really be the next challenge for St. Pierre?
Grab a leftover drumstick and come have a good old-fashioned MMA argument with us.
Do you think St. Pierre will actually be fighting Silva the next time he's in the Octagon? I honestly hope he fights Hendricks. I look at GSP like MMA's Marvin Hagler, taking out the toughest contenders in a tough division. I would hate to see his legacy tarnished by losing to a much larger Silva. -- Ray from Costa Mesa
Jordan Breen, administrative editor: Luckily for you, I think you just might get your wish.
It is hard for me to listen to St. Pierre answer questions about Silva and a potential super fight so delicately, so bureaucratically. I couldn't possibly tell you if St. Pierre is scared of losing, nervous about becoming part of a highlight reel, bored by the notion or what his motivation is. However, it does seem overwhelmingly clear that he simply isn't interested. That is unfortunate -- St. Pierre-Silva would be the most pressing, relevant, extravagant MMA event of all-time; however, it is the champ's prerogative. Unless Silva is willing to harken back to his Shooto days and get down to the welterweight limit, it is likely that GSP stays evasive and non-committal forever.
You know, it's a shame, too. If anything, people are too hard on St. Pierre in the Silva matchup. Everyone acts like he has no chance on Earth, he of the most effective MMA wrestling ever, against a guy with historically shaky takedown D. Is a Silva highlight-reel finish possible? Sure, but St. Pierre has a better chance than even he seems to give himself.
So, he might need to guard himself from a public character assassination from White, should he scoff at the UFC prez's Cowboys Stadium-laden plans. Ultimately, though, we should be looking at a Hendricks title defense in the new year. When? That's a bit trickier. Obviously, it'll be up to GSP. The UFC was originally targeting a return to Montreal in March, but it appears to be reconsidering. April already has Jon Jones-Chael Sonnen on deck. Do they push that Montreal date to May and risk competing with the traditional Memorial Day card in Vegas?
Based on how the UFC's 2013 calendar is shaping up and the kind of rest period that St. Pierre will take for himself before gearing up for an eighth straight title defense, I think we're probably looking at St. Pierre-Hendricks on that Memorial Day card in Vegas. That's not exactly the same kind of once-in-a-lifetime fight, but Hendricks is a legitimate challenger who is good with the media and the magnetism of his woolly-faced, hard-nosed American is obvious. Unless the UFC drops the ball entirely, this bout will appeal to casuals and hardcores alike in both the U.S. and Canada. This is still a successful UFC event.
Until St. Pierre comes out and announces his plan to move up to 185 pounds full-time, which he has long said would be the only way he'd venture to middleweight, I'm not too optimistic about his chances of fighting Silva unless the Brazilian makes good on previous promises of being able to sniff the welterweight limit. A catchweight will just be another excuse for it not to happen. However, people love this debate. Silva-St. Pierre is the UFC-Pride of our time -- the unattainable, unknowable capital-T Truth that tugs at the very fibres of why we care about people fighting one another.
Also consider that Silva and St. Pierre are still pretty damn good. They're probably going to beat their next foes. The debate won't go anywhere. We'll see what version of the truth time reveals to us.
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