COMMENTARY | The news of Georges St. Pierre deciding to walk away from active competition is not a week old and ramifications have already begun to hit the world of mixed martial arts. The UFC has removed the great champion from their rankings page and taken strides to make new contenders for the title he long held. With the welterweight division wide open here is a look at the individuals who benefit the most from St. Pierre's departure:
Fighters In No "Rush" For Rematches
St. Pierre has held the UFC's welterweight title for five years. During that run he's defeated a number of fighters that had many of the qualities needed to be champions if he wasn't at the top of the heap. Names such as Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks and Jake Shields adorn the wall of recent triumphs that St. Pierre has defeated to become one of the best performers to grace MMA competition. All three of these individuals are still among the top ten in UFC's welterweight division and have the most to gain from St. Pierre's vacating the title.
The UFC 171 fight between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will crown the next welterweight champion. Beyond that, expectations are that the next number one contender will come from that same event. Jake Shields is set to face Hector Lombard and Carlos Condit has been placed against Tyron Woodley. While the UFC doesn't use an exact science in creating title challengers it wouldn't be far fetched to take a contender from this card and place them against the new champion. Even the "retired" Nick Diaz, who was offered a rematch against Condit, can benefit from a return at this point in time now that St. Pierre is out of the Octagon.
With three top fighters that St. Pierre has already defeated on this card it is clear that UFC will have an opportunity to pull from a group of athletes that their former champion has already conquered. Without him in the sport they have a new opportunity to reach the pinnacle of their weight class.
Other UFC Champions
One of the most interesting avenues of conversation that has surrounded St. Pierre's leaving the sport is his worth to the UFC. It is clear that St. Pierre is the most valuable fighter that the promotion had on their roster. He could sell out arenas in both the United States and Canada while bringing in the most amount of pay per buys whenever he competed. Very few fighters have come close in being the type of draw that Georges was for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Now is the time for individuals such as Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey or Anthony Pettis to begin making strides to build themselves into the promotional vessels that the organization needs. Rousey has headlined one event and shown the ability to draw attention to the sport in ways that even Georges could not generate. She may be the front runner for the next personality that becomes a major brand that would rival his strength. Hopes are that more than one will emerge for the UFC to build around.
St. Pierre took the reins from Chuck Liddell as the promotion's marketing dynamo; it's time for another fighter to do the same in replacing the Canadian athlete.
Foreign Fighters On The Roster
Those in charge of the UFC want the promotion to become a world power. To do so the organization needs foreign fighters that will draw the limelight whenever they compete on their home soil. St. Pierre's ability to draw such emotion and support from the Canadian public made him a valuable resource to the organization that will need to be replaced; not only in Canada, but other locations as well. Fighters such as Michael Bisping, Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo have become stars in their homeland which the UFC will continue to cultivate even when these fighters are no longer active.
Conor McGregor has taken strides to become the next big name in MMA outside of the United States. Rory MacDonald is a fighter that has shown flashes in the cage but isn't as well liked as a personality to make the same type of impact at this time. Names such as Hyun Gyu Lim, Tarec Saffiedine and Alexander Gustafsson are a few fighters that could learn from St. Pierre's lead with the UFC's full blessings.
Georges St. Pierre may not be fully appreciated for his fighting style but when history looks back on his career he should be considered one of the greatest fighters to ever step into the cage. Ruling the welterweight division the way he has since as far back as 2006 is nothing to bat an eye at. His absence will leave a major void in the UFC but it also creates a wealth of opportunity for those still in active competition.
Raphael Garcia lives in Washington, DC and has worked as a sports journalist since 2006. His work has contributed to outlets that includes multiple newspapers, websites and ESPN.
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Martial Arts
- Carlos Condit
- Georges St. Pierre