On Saturday, UFC president Dana White will wrap the undisputed welterweight title around the waist of someone other than Georges St-Pierre (pictured) for the first time since April 2008. Even more jarring, UFC announcer Bruce Buffer won’t scream into the microphone, “And still, welterweight champion of the world, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre!”
St-Pierre may have announced his indefinite/definite leave from MMA back in December, but his exit won’t really hit home with fans until they see Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler battle for his vacated hardware at UFC 171.
Just in case you’re wondering, St-Pierre told The Canadian Press over the weekend that he believes Hendricks will become the UFC’s new 170-pound champion. And no, he couldn’t care less who dons the strap he willingly left in his rear-view mirror.
The last time GSP took an extended break from fighting was in 2011 when a torn ACL had him out 19 months between fights. The UFC manufactured an interim belt in his absence, which Carlos Condit captured by beating Nick Diaz then immediately lost to GSP upon his return.
However, that was a completely different situation. Everyone knew St-Pierre was coming back from his blown wheel, it just wasn’t known if he’d be the same dominant GSP that fans had grown accustomed to seeing. This time, nobody knows what the future holds for the 32-year-old, especially St-Pierre himself.
White has brushed off St-Pierre’s quasi-retirement as though it’s no big deal because the UFC train waits for no man, including its biggest pay-per-view draw over the past handful of years.
St-Pierre is perfect through is past 12 scraps. The last nine were of a UFC welterweight record title defense variety. You can’t just cut and paste a new face in there to replace that kind of dominance, can you?
How will the UFC survive without GSP? Is reigning bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey capable of carrying the baton considering Hollywood is inching closer to stealing her away with each passing day?
With endorsement deals from Nike and Gatorade, light heavyweight king Jon Jones is the most marketable male on the UFC’s roster. However, the most decorated champ the division has witnessed continues to receive mixed reviews from fans.
For longtime MMA enthusiasts, UFC 171 will offer an eerie feeling. It marks the beginning of a new era. More importantly, the end of an old one.
“And new, welterweight champion of the world…” screamed Buffer.