It was a proud moment for Georges St-Pierre to step inside the cage at the Bell Centre last Saturday night to defend his UFC welterweight title.
More than a year had passed since the Canadian stepped foot in the Octagon after a devastating knee injury required surgery and months of rehab. Mixed in with the physical ailments was a mental hurdle that St-Pierre had to jump because, for the months leading up to his last fight at UFC 129, he had lost the love for fighting.
Luckily for the UFC and fans around the world, the time off provided St-Pierre some much needed rest and gave him the chance to realize he missed fighting, he missed competing and he missed the rush of what it felt like to be in the UFC.
So upon his return, St-Pierre was greeted by interim UFC champ Carlos Condit, and outside of a third-round scare that saw him get planted on the mat by a head kick, the long reigning welterweight king did what he does best – dominate on the ground and win a one-sided decision.
Before St-Pierre could even have the belt wrapped around his waist, cameras were already panning cageside where UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva sat smiling. You see, Silva has been asking for a “superfight” against St-Pierre for the past several months, and says it’s the one fight he really, really wants right now.
St-Pierre’s done his best to avoid the subject and even after the fight tried to keep the focus on his win over Carlos Condit, not a potential bout against Silva.
The UFC is all in on a fight between the two champions because it would likely provide for them the biggest pay-per-view of all time, and one of the biggest selling live events in company history. A Silva vs. St-Pierre show would pack a major stadium in either the U.S., Brazil or Canada, and would shatter records because St-Pierre and Silva sit at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively as the biggest draws in the promotion in terms of selling rates on pay-per-view.
The problem of the superfight seems to lie in the future of Georges St-Pierre, and the UFC is gambling an awful lot on a fighter they could likely promote for the next five to six years, easily, but it might all go away should he lose to Anderson Silva in this mega-fight.
If St-Pierre goes up to middleweight, or even up to a catchweight of say 178 pounds, he’s stated numerous times that it would likely signal the end of his welterweight career. That’s in large part why there’s been so much posturing from St-Pierre’s camp about Silva dropping down to 170 pounds to take the potential superfight, should it happen.
Add to that, St-Pierre has been a welterweight his entire career and he’s perfectly suited for the weight class. He is five-feet-10-inches tall, which is considerably shorter than many of the top middleweights, and while he’s been described as a “huge welterweight,” as the division continues to grow, so do the fighters.
The most significant arguing factor against a Silva vs. St-Pierre superfight may just be a man by the name of Johny Hendricks.
When St-Pierre left the welterweight division to deal with his knee surgery, there weren’t many top contenders roaming around for him to fight. Now that he’s back, St-Pierre already faced a clear-cut No. 1 fighter in Carlos Condit, and after flattening two top five welterweights in the span of 11 months, Johny Hendricks has by far done enough to earn a shot at the title.
Add to that the fact that Silva has two middleweight contenders potentially lining up for him in the next three months and, from a sporting aspect at least, the fight with St-Pierre makes even less sense, except when you look at it for what it’s truly about – a money grab.
The UFC is a business and their business is like any other business, it needs to make money and there is no fight with bigger potential than a bout between Silva and St-Pierre. But the fallout in terms of divisions being held in limbo and at least one of your most marketable fighters and champions being handed a loss can’t be good for future revenue.
No one’s hand should be forced in this situation, but a Silva vs. St-Pierre superfight is no longer about who is truly the pound-for-pound best in the sport – it’s about cashing in on a five-year-old idea, and making a boat load of cash along the way.
There’s nothing wrong with making the money, but at what expense to the rest of the UFC?