In a year filled with curveballs that have derailed planned major fights, another of UFC’s biggest bouts has at least temporarily bitten the dust.
Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has pulled out of his title defense on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas against Carlos Condit due to a knee injury. UFC president Dana White broke the news on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, saying, "I just landed in NYC and what do I always say? I have to deal with bad [expletive] every day! GSP is out with an injury!"
White confirmed in text messages to Yahoo! Sports that St. Pierre suffered a knee injury, but said he did not believe it was serious enough to need surgery. White said he expected the St. Pierre-Condit match could be rebooked before the end of the year.
He also said Condit will be pulled from the show, which sold out the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas the first weekend tickets were put on sale, and was expected to be one of the biggest gates in company history. UFC had already booked a closed-circuit broadcast on location for the expected overflow crowd.
Former welterweight and lightweight champion B.J. Penn (16-7-2) will face former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (25-7) in what will be the new main event. The fight was scheduled as the show’s semifinal.
White confirmed that since both men had signed to compete in a three-round fight, that it would not be changed to five rounds.
"They haven’t trained for five rounds," said White.
The Penn-Diaz winner would likely become the top contender for the winner of St. Pierre vs. Condit.
White does not yet have an answer as to which match will be promoted to the five-bout pay-per-view broadcast. The card also features two heavyweight matches, with Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) against former Purdue football standout Matt Mitrione (5-0), and aging heavyweight legend Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (27-9-2) against former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Roy Nelson (15-6). The other scheduled pay-per-view bout features the UFC debut of highly touted Japanese featherweight star Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2) against George Roop (12-7-1).
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The strongest undercard fight on paper is one between former WEC champion Donald Cerrone (16-3) against Dennis Siver (19-7). It’s a fight that features a popular name in Cerrone, against a legitimate threat – and one that looks to be exciting on paper – with both men’s strong kickboxing background and Cerrone’s strong submission game. However, that fight has been earmarked for Spike TV’s prelim-card broadcast, and the station has already started advertising the fight. Usually in these situations, UFC doesn’t change the planned Spike matches.
The biggest name fight on the undercard would pit Brandon Vera (11-5), a former headliner who has struggled in recent years, against Eliot Marshall (10-3), from the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show. But both men stylistically don’t look on paper to have an exciting fight. A bantamweight match with Scott Jorgensen (12-4) against the returning Jeff Curran (33-13-1) would be expected to be faster paced and more exciting, but have less marquee value. The other possibility is Tim Credeur (12-4), who also has a reputation for exciting fights, battling Brad Tavares (7-1).
White gave no indication as to a target date for St. Pierre vs. Condit. The next pay-per-view show in Las Vegas would be Dec. 30, but that already has Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem. Putting the company’s two biggest drawing cards on the same bill on a holiday weekend would be expected to do the biggest numbers of the year. The other possibility would be Dec. 10 in Toronto, the city where St. Pierre is most popular, and already has Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight title as its main event.
The injury comes as a year filled with promising fights that never happened is coming to a close. Among the expected main events, which would have been most of the year’s most-anticipated battles, that got shelved have included: St. Pierre vs. Diaz for the welterweight title (Diaz pulled from the fight after missing two press conferences which led to Condit getting his shot); Rashad Evans vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (Evans knee injury) for the light heavyweight title; Jon Jones vs. Evans for the light heavyweight title (twice, once due to a Jones hand injury, then due to an Evans hand injury); Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard’s trilogy fight for the lightweight title (both were injured, although the fight did eventually take place on Oct. 8); Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen for the welterweight title (Sonnen suspended for a positive steroid test); Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping in a “TUF” coaches final (Sonnen’s second suspension related to a hearing in the original suspension); Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos (torn rotator cuff by Velasquez although the fight is now set for Nov. 12) and Dos Santos vs. Brock Lesnar (Lesnar contracting diverticulitis).
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