Georges St-Pierre, UFC welterweight champion, defends his belt November 16th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at UFC 167 against Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks. A highly anticipated bout that has fans clamoring as the biggest challenge to GSP’s current reign as champion or some are panning as a potential snoozer with GSP wrestling his way to another lopsided decision. Regardless of the outcome at UFC 167, what is next for the current champion?
Now if Hendricks can shock the world on the 16th and defeat GSP, the likely outcome of this is going to be a rematch setting up Hendricks-GSP II. This has been a pattern the UFC has been consistent with for some time offering up rematches for long-time champions after losing their belt. BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, and Frankie Edgar were all granted immediate rematches after losing their championship belts.
If GSP leaves UFC 167 with the belt still around his waist, where does he go from there? If Rory MacDonald can earn a decisive victory over Robbie Lawler, he would likely be the next man up. However, as training partners, MacDonald and GSP have stated that they would never fight one another. Ben Askren is another name that comes up; however with contractual obligations to Bellator, this is likely to delay any potential fight with the current welterweight champion.
When you round out the rest of the top ten ranked welterweights in the world, it is a who’s who of people who have already a lopsided loss to GSP in a recent fight or others who are still a few wins away from being viewed as a legitimate number one contender.
Two potential directions for St-Pierre post-UFC 167, provided he wins.
GSP vs. MacDonald/Lawler
If Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler can put on a show for the fans and the UFC at 167, the winner of the fight stands to be in the best position for the next title shot. Robbie Lawler is 2-0 since coming back to the UFC with a first-round knockout of Josh Koscheck that gave him Knockout of the Night from the UFC brass and a second round knockout over Bobby Voelker. MacDonald is on his own five fight win-streak with wins over Nate Diaz, BJ Penn and Jake Ellenberger. A potential match-up, if they were to agree to it, between St-Pierre and MacDonald, could be a massive event held north of the border as both are beloved Canadian fighters. However, a lot has to go right for any of these fights to happen. A lackluster win for either MacDonald or Lawler does little to hype a potential with GSP, who’s often criticized as a boring fighter himself.
GSP Moves to Middleweight
This is an intriguing career move for St-Pierre, who has cleared out the welterweight division for the better half of a decade. A fight down the line with current Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman is one that could interest fans; however it’s unlikely GSP would be granted a title shot without a couple wins in the division and Weidman still has the whole rematch with the greatest fighter of all-time standing in his way. Regardless of who sits atop the division, a potential move to the higher weight class seems more and more like a bad idea by the day. With Lyota Machida recently moving from Light-Heavyweight down to the 185 division, the size of these fighters seems to be bigger than ever. Is the higher weight class becoming too big for St-Pierre? He would have to put on an awful lot of weight and do a cut down to 185 to be comparing in size to some of the top middleweights in the division.
When you start to play out the possible directions Joe Silva, Dana White and the UFC can take coming out of UFC 167, it starts to become clear that Hendricks shocking the world just might be in their best interest, from a business stand point and to give them the small pause they need with the division to reload and line up some legitimate number one contenders.
Otherwise, it appears the only other options are previously recycled ones that nobody is more interested in seeing the second time around.
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