By Tony Shuck
Special to woodypaige.com
After all the back and forth, yelling, F-bombs and both sides swearing that a deal could never being reached, George St. Pierre (GSP) and the UFC have finally come to terms on a new contract. I guess we should start believing the “never say never” adage.
It’s amazing that a deal was reached given the distance between the two parties over the last six months. In October, GSP declared himself a free-agent due to lack of progress in the negotiations. The UFC had other ideas on the status of his contract. The main sticking point between the two was GSP’s Under Amour deal. Reebok is the official apparel sponsor and uniform of the UFC. GSP wanted compensation for the loss of money that would happen when he couldn’t wear UA apparel inside the octagon. (For more on the contract dispute, read a previous article I wrote: http://woodypaige.com/tony-shuck-on-mma-the-fight-nobody-wanted-gsp-vs-the-ufc/)
Somehow they found a middle ground and a deal was done. Quite frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the UFC. With Conor McGregor threatening to box Floyd Mayweather with or without the UFC’s approval, their number one star may be absent from the cage for an extended amount of time.
As soon as rumors swirled that GSP may be making a comeback, seemingly everyone in the UFC wanted a piece of him. Both current welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, and No. 1 contender Stephen Thompson think GSP deserves an immediate title shot.
They wouldn’t be wrong. GSP left with the title and an 11-fight win streak. But they aren’t the only ones calling out GSP.
Middleweight champion, Michael Bisping believes he should get a crack at GSP. Although, the reasoning may differ a bit for Bisping.
Ever since winning the middleweight title, Bisping has been looking for “money” fights as opposed to who’s next in line. I can’t blame him given the murderer’s row of challengers below him. GSP v Bisping would generate a considerable amount of dough. But it just doesn’t make since for either party.
The UFC is going to want to throw GSP into a title fight immediately. As we discussed, the options are not limited. However; I contend that doing that is not the right answer.
When GSP left, some argue he should have left without his welterweight title. He narrowly defeated Johnny Hendricks via split decision. Moreover, his reasoning for leaving was to get his mind right.
GSP was burnt out on competing. The mental aspect of the fight game had caught up and his training and family life was suffering for it. So, he left.
Now that he’s back, GSP needs a tune-up fight.
Why rush GSP into a title fight. Let’s see where he is physically and more importantly, mentally. There is a plethora of possible match-ups in the welterweight division. It would be good to knock off some of that proverbial “ring-rust”.
The welterweight division is a crowded one at the top. It isn’t like I’m saying fight a nobody. Let him go against one of the top 10 in the division. Two of the more notable contenders that I think would not only test GSP but put butts in seats are former champion, Robbie Lawler and the surging Jorge Masvidal.
Both fighters pose challenges for GSP. Neither of the two have proven that they can handle the wrestling pedigree that GSP would provide. They are both classic “striker versus grappler” match-ups. And both fighters can not only sell the fight, but potentially win the fight.
The only other match-up worth making is one against Demian Maia. Maia is world class at jiu-jitsu, winning multiple world championships in the disciple. He is also the No. 2 contender in the division. A fight between the two is unavoidable. It would also pose an interesting test for GSP. Historically, he dominates fighters by getting takedowns and controlling them on the ground. Against a fighter like Maia, the ground is the last place you want to be. How would GSP game plan for a guy like that?
No matter who GSP fights first, one thing is clear, challengers won’t be hard to come by. I, for one, cannot wait to see him return to the cage. I just hope he can live up to the standard he set for himself so many years ago.
(Tony Shuck, an avid MMA fanatic since 2002, has become an expert on the sport. The 34-year-old Indiana native is a veteran of the United States Army, serving between 2002-2006. He was deployed twice to Iraq (2003-2004, 2005-2006). He is married and lives in Denver. Tony has trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing. He is a student at the Colorado Media School, is a regular contributor to woodypaige.com and hosts his own MMA radio show, The Weigh-In, on Elevation 5280 Sports.)