Last week the MMA world was sent into a frenzy, when superstar UFC Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre (25-2) decided to step down as champion, having won 12 straight fights with his last loss being in 2007.
St. Pierre was coming off a controversial decision victory over Johny Hendricks and said he wanted to take the time off to take care of personal issues. He said the growing pressure from each fight was taking a toll on him as well.
At 32-years-old, St. Pierre could still be considered in his prime for MMA, when many of the greats have fought well past that, including former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva (39), former UFC Heavyweight/Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture (retired at 48), and even 40-year-old Mark Hunt who had one of the best fights ever in the UFC just over a week ago.
Many fans of St. Pierre are hoping that this “stepping down” is just temporary—and that he’ll be back.
This is out of the ordinary for anyone of that magnitude, which would be equivalent to Muhammad Ali, or Mike Tyson retiring while still in their prime. Imagine Al Pacino retiring from acting after The Godfather, Will Smith after Men in Black, Michael Jackson after ‘Thriller,’ Justin Bieber after… (Well, let’s skip Bieber.)
Some handle pressure and adversity different than others, and for St. Pierre, he felt this was the best decision possible. We will see if he comes back or not, as UFC President Dana White said, “George could retire now and never come back and be fine [financially.]”
After Friday’s announcement, there was still a fight on Saturday, Dec. 13, live on FOX in Sacramento. The main event between UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, didn’t go past the first round as Johnson surprised many with a knockout of Benavidez late in the round.
Johnson, who improved to 19-2-1, is not known for his power, with only four of his wins coming by way of knockout. It was Benavidez who was suppose to have the power advantage, with many predicting Johnson to outpoint Benavidez.
I’ll have to admit, it’s still a bit weird to see two grown 5’3/5’4, 125-pound men go at it, especially when the referee is twice their size.
The week before we saw two monsters go at it, with Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva coming in on fight night at around 300 pounds, weighing almost three times what the flyweights come in at. I think I’m still getting used to the smaller divisions.
In the co-main event, local Northern California fighter Urijah Faber submitted Michael McDonald in the second round with a guillotine choke, and rounding out the main card, Chad Mendes won a decision over Nik Lentz and Joe Lauzon got back in the win column by outpointing Mac Danzig.
Following the post-fight conference, White said he met with Nick Diaz [and offered him a fight with Carlos Condit, which Diaz turned down. Condit, the number one welterweight contender won a controversial decision over Diaz (ranked 10th) last year, and White said Diaz wanted to fight the winner of the Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
Hendricks and Lawler will fight for the St. Pierre’s vacant welterweight title and White said, of the potential for Diaz to fight the winner, “That’s not going to happen, he’s ranked tenth in the division.”
On Twitter I threw in my two cents for crowing a champion. Instead of having one fight for the title, why not have a four-man tournament between Hendricks, Condit, Lawler and Diaz, and see who comes out on top.
That would be far more interesting and generate higher ratings. Have two bouts on one card and the championship bout six months later.
So much for wishful thinking.
David Kano is lead writer for MMA Show News and co-host of The Hollywood MMA Show. You can follow him on Twitter @TheDKano.
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