Georges St. Pierre put on a legacy-defining performance Saturday night at UFC 154 against Carlos Condit. There were many in the MMA media who suggested that a perfect storm of events would conspire the undisputed welterweight champion; with it being his first fight in eighteen months since having ACL surgery, his opponent possessing a more threatening skill set than many of his previous challengers and his mind possibly already focused on a superfight with Anderson Silva.
GSP proved all the naysayers wrong, turning in another dominating performance en route to a unanimous decision victory.
But the fight wasn’t without drama, a blistering head kick in the third round from Condit floored the champion. There was a collective gasp from the Montreal faithful as I’m sure there was with many in the PPV audience, as flashbacks to Matt Serra filled our collective minds. But St. Pierre weathered the storm and even regained control of the fight before the round ended. In doing so, St. Pierre answered another charge of his critics – that the French-Canadian would wilt when someone hit him as hard as Serra did.
In a welterweight division that has seen many changes over the past two years, there remains one constant. Georges St. Pierre reigns supreme. And with all due respect to Johny Hendricks and Nick Diaz, that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Indeed, there appears to be only one great challenge left for GSP to take on. To quote Yoda (no, not Greg Jackson): “Vader. You must face Vader”.
For all of GSP’s accomplishments in the welterweight division, there has always been the Darth Vader-like spectre of Anderson Silva looming on the horizon. The two have been circling each other for a couple of years now, with first Silva demurring on the challenge and now GSP saying (at least publicly) that he hasn’t decided whether or not he wants the fight.
How much of both Silva and GSP’s comments on the potential fight are genuine and how much are being coy to gain some negotiating leverage is unclear. With UFC President Dana White publicly surmising that the superfight could take place in May and naming three possible stadium-sized venues as locations, it’s clear that White wants it and with a stadium gate at stake would pay exorbitantly to get it. It makes perfect sense for both fighters to make sure they get the maximum dollar value possible before committing.
But it’s not just White that wants the fight to happen. Silva-GSP has been at the top of many fans’ “dream list” for years. It is to MMA what Pacquiao-Mayweather is to boxing. The two best pound for pound fighters in the sport finally doing battle after much in the way of rumours and false starts. Not only the best fighters, but the biggest stars in the sport facing off in a true destination event. An event that dwarfs the possibilities of Chris Weidman or Hendricks getting a shot at Silva or GSP’s respective titles.
Against Silva, GSP is faced with new mitigating factors suggesting why he would be at a disadvantage. Silva has size and reach on his side, not to mention a frustrating elusivity and awe-inspiring striking game. But Silva has appeared vulnerable against an opponent that can put him on his back, from Chael Sonnen all the way back to Travis Lutter. GSP’s dominating wrestling game may serve him well if he can bulk enough to negate Silva’s weight advantage.
More alluring than the technical possibilities of the fight is the fact that the winner will no doubt wear the label as the absolute best in the sport. It’s something that both men crave, and after Saturday night’s performance, it may be the last box unchecked on GSP’s career to-do list.