The tale of a GSP-less welterweight division

by • August 1, 2016 • Featured, UFCComments (0)

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin of MMAFighting.com

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin of MMAFighting.com

2,064 days is the amount of time Georges St-Pierre held the UFC welterweight championship around his waist. He captured the gold at UFC 83 in 2008 and went on to defend it nine times.

Since St-Pierre vacated his belt on December 13, 2013, the 170-pound title has seen three different men wear the belt and only one of which defend it.

From 2008 to 2013, the Montreal native was considered one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world and was considered ‘Fighter of the Year’ in 2009 by many publications.

St-Pierre was the poster boy for the UFC and helped the company push their product to the masses north of the border. At UFC 129, St-Pierre took on Jake Shields and set all sorts of event records, including attendance and gate.

The closest St-Pierre came to losing was in his last outing against Johny Hendricks. “Rush” earned himself a split decision, but many fans and critics had the fight in Hendricks’ favor. An automatic rematch was what the masses expected, however with St-Pierre basically retiring from the sport of MMA, something else had to happen.

At UFC 171, that same man, Johny Hendricks took on Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight belt and earned a very close decision to be the first man in five years other than St-Pierre to hold the belt and be coined welterweight champion.

It didn’t take long for the revolving door to occur, in what is now a very deep weight class. At UFC 181, just eight months after Hendricks beat Lawler, the opposite man was crowned champion. The American Top Team product held the belt for 602 days and defended it twice, against Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit.

Again, which was very different from when St-Pierre was the kingpin, another man knocked on the champion’s door and now holds the belt.

At UFC 201, an unsuspecting challenger appeared. One who has been sitting in the background, waiting for his turn for a couple of years. With no other clear cut contenders waiting in the wings, Tyron Woodley finally earned his chance to fight for a title. The number 5 ranked welterweight wasted no time, knocking out Lawler just over two-minutes into the very first round of the main event at UFC 201.

Woodley was called out by the current number 1 ranked welterweight, Stephen Thompson following the victory on FOX Sports 1’s post-fight show, however the new champion didn’t agree with that callout and had other plans. He has been in the sport for some time now and wants money fights. If he can get back into the cage as soon as possible medically speaking, then he would like to fight in a ‘money fight’ against Nick Diaz at UFC 202 on August 20 or against the aforementioned Georges St-Pierre at 205.

“I think Nick Diaz comes off suspension in two days,” Woodley said. “I would love to fight him on 202. I know his brother is fighting. I think he deserves it. He’s a guy that’s been around the sport. He’s put a lot of butts in the seats, sold a lot of pay-per-views. So why not put him on a big card with Conor and his brother? I know he’s training already.”

“These guys are legends,” Woodley said at the post-fight press conference. “Nick Diaz is a top-five welterweight of all time in my eyes. Georges St-Pierre is the No. 1 welterweight in my eyes. If I’m an athlete in this sport, in this division and I want to say I’m the best in the world, I feel like I should compete against those guys. So I don’t feel any obligation to go by the rankings. We all know how those rankings are produced anyway. And I want to go out there and I want to fight the money fights.”

So despite being out of action for just under three years, St-Pierre’s name still gets put into the mix. He has hinted at a comeback himself, however that has been kiboshed by UFC President Dana White.

Who knows what the new UFC brass has in store for the future, but from all accounts, Georges St-Pierre is still the welterweight division.

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