What’s Next For UFC’s Welterweight Division
Last weekend UFC 167 delivered a card full of exciting fights and topped it all off with a bit of controversy in the form of Georges St-Pierre retaining his strap over Johnny Hendricks via split decision. The MMA community is seemingly divided on who really won that fight. It seems as if almost every UFC fighter, Dana White, the commentators and one out of three judges scored the fight for Hendricks; while every keyboard warrior, message board troll, GSP “fan boys” and two out of three judges scored it for Georges. I personally had Hendricks winning by a score of four rounds to one. In fact, as the fight ended I jumped up and cheered with the few people watching the fight with me. It’s not that I don’t like GSP. I am in fact a huge fan of the champion. It’s just that I was sure a changing of the guard was at hand. Then as Bruce Buffer read the judges score card I was confused as to how Hendricks was about to win a split decision. I was sure he’d negated GSP like none other before him, and worked him over pretty hard. Then as the Buffer exclaimed, “And still UFC Welterweight Champion,” I sank back to my seat and wept at the poor judging that seems to bog down great fights.
Then Rogan interviewed Georges, and he dropped the huge retirement bomb on everyone. At that moment I felt a whirlwind of emotions tearing through my body. On the one hand I was watching one of the most dominant fighters in the history of MMA saying it was his time to step away for awhile. On the other hand I was outraged that I would not get to see an immediate rematch, which I feel Hendricks more than earned. Then I started thinking about all the possibilities that could arise from the champ vacating his title and stepping away for some time to sort his personal issues out and heal up.
The first thought that popped into my head was a tournament to determine the new champion. With fighters like Hendricks, Condit, MacDonald, Lawler, Story, Brown, Ellenberger, Maia, Shields, Lombard and Woodley all chasing the welterweight gold a tournament seems the only logical way to go. If you put any two of those fighters against each other, except maybe Shields, you have the makings for fight of the night every time. I think that if GSP does decide to retire, or step away for any length of time, this tournament could be the best way to settle who the new king of the division is. I really think that right now Tyron Woodley is currently the dark horse of this division, and his mauling of Josh Koscheck did not surprise me in the least. I really think Woodley is about to hit his stride and make some pretty big waves in the upcoming months.
Although if the UFC decides not to go the route of the tournament, I would at least hope that Hendricks would be offered a spot in the title match. A five round rematch with Carlos Condit would be very interesting, especially considering more than a few people feel Condit won their match. That is assuming Condit can get past Matt Brown in their upcoming match. Even Brown and Hendricks would make for fireworks. A brawl pitting Hendricks against Lawler would definitely ensure that an entire crowd would be on its feet.
However, this is all pure speculation on my part, and we won’t have any definitive answers for a few months at least. Georges needs to take this time off, clear his head and figure out what he wants to do next. GSP has numerous possibilities waiting for him, fighting is not the only thing the world has to offer him, and if he truly feels his time is up, I would rather see him go out on his own terms, on a big win, even if it was a bit controversial and I scored it for the other fighter.
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Joshua Luna began watching with the premier of UFC 1 and I used to dream of one day stepping into the octagon and putting a hurting on whoever dared oppose him. Life didn’t exactly pan out that way.