Georges St-Pierre is back. That's for sure.
What isn't certain is exactly how long he'll stay back.
The undisputed welterweight champion put in 25 minutes of work Saturday and looked as good, if not better, than he did prior to injuring the knee that kept him out of action for the past year. Now that he put Condit away and can claim the UFC welterweight gold for himself without the nonsense of interim belts, the focus shifts to a super-fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
But after learning that in recent months GSP was close to walking away from the sport altogether, it's hard to hold onto the idea that the fight with Silva will happen. Given the tone of the battered champion at the post-fight news conference, it seemed like that fire he said he rediscovered prior to the Condit fight is flickering out.
"I just came back and I was fighting Carlos Condit and everybody was asking me about Anderson Silva," St-Pierre said at the presser. "I just finished my fight and … I need to recompose and think about it. I got hit a lot on the head. I need a break."
Break? He just had a 19-month break. And during that break, GSP almost handed his notice in to Dana White, nearly walking away from all potential fights.
With quotes and events like these, it's understandable that one would question where GSP's heart is at.
Without a doubt, St-Pierre's performance last night was indicative of his dominance at 170 pounds. It's hard to believe someone of the same weight class will remove him from the top of the pack at any point soon. But no matter the industry, once you get to the top, the wear and tear shows. And staying at the top proves that more battle scars are on their way and things don't get any easier.
After 10 straight wins and seven consecutive defenses of his title, has GSP finally had enough? Is the grind, much like it was before, too much for him to carry on?
If so, that's fine. From the outside looking in, GSP has done more than enough to prove he's arguably the greatest 170-pound champion the UFC has ever seen. As far as welterweights are concerned, he's done his fair share of work (sorry, Johny Hendricks).
For the fans' sake, though, a catch-weight contest with Silva needs to happen before he cashes in.
For the sake of argument, let's just say St-Pierre is ready to call it a career and hang up the gloves. As awesome as it was, the best way to go out isn't the five-round war he had with Condit (taking away nothing from Condit and his gutsy performance). No, the best way to celebrate a career of pounding the sense out of the competition is by taking on another fighter that's done the same thing in his weight class.
There is no GSP fight the majority of fans would want to see more than a fight against Silva.
A super-fight with Silva not only puts a cap on St-Pierre's brilliant career, but it also gives fans the rare opportunity of watching a king fight a king.
Apart from the obvious pain (both physical and mental) that stems from getting in a fight, there isn't much downside to this for GSP and Silva. At a catchweight, neither title is up for grabs, so ranking and position in either division is thrown out the window. If St-Pierre loses, his stance as the greatest welterweight of all time is kept intact. A loss to the middleweight champ doesn't taint what GSP's done up to this point.
The only loser in this fight is Hendricks. Sorry, but for the sake of big-money fights that people want to see, "Bigg Rigg" needs to stay parked at the truck stop for a bit while we figure this GSP-Silva stuff out.
A fight with Silva will make history. Cowboys Stadium, a venue that will hold more than 80,000 people, will likely play the stage to what will be the biggest gate in company history. The card, assuming the fact that it holds other big-money fights, can easily top UFC 100 as having the biggest pay-per-view buy rate the promotion has ever seen.
Still, picking up the nuance from the post-fight presser, St-Pierre isn't keen on fighting someone bigger than him. "He's a big guy," GSP said of Silva.
But if you're beating up everyone in your division anyway, isn't it about time you tested the waters somewhere else? Too many times in the past, fighters stepped up to GSP with different attributes that before the fight appeared to stand out as advantages, only to end up as characteristics that didn't matter because he beat them.
Silva said recently that he doesn't want to fight until late 2013. But somewhere between when he said that and yesterday, he changed his tune. Silva is open to the GSP fight now, and UFC president Dana White is hoping to make it around May of next year.
Now it's up to St-Pierre to figure out what he really wants to do going forward. If the fire is truly out, then everyone loses and the collective soul of UFC fandom is gutted, leaving everyone wondering what could have been. Fans have seen it before: super-fights that everyone wants to see, but never come to fruition.
GSP, this is what you have in front of you. The fans want it, the boss wants it, and a guy that rivals you as the greatest ever wants to prove he's better than you.
The ball is in your court, champ.
Erik Fontanez is an MMA writer and reporter for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow Erik on Twitter at @Erik_FontanezOther popular content on the Yahoo! network:
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