It flashed across the internet earlier today, the news that UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St Pierre had torn his knee and would need surgery, shelving him until the end of 2012. A flurry of activity from the UFC front office ensued, and Nick Diaz, the challenger who was to face GSP in February 2012 would no face Carlos Condit. The new match would be for an interim title, setting up St Pierre’s first task for his return – title unification. Will St Pierre be up to the task?
St Pierre has held the belt since 2008, and in those three plus years he has dominated the welterweight division in such a way that his legacy is already written. But he is facing surgery to the knee and a long rehabilitation process . If he returns by the end of 2012, it will be a full eighteen months since St Pierre entered the Octagon to compete, and he will be 31 years old, halfway to 32.
At times I have criticized of St Pierre’s inability to finish a fight, I’ve made fun of his accent and his hip flexor and I’ve generally remained unimpressed. However there is no denying that St Pierre is a unique athlete, and a very special one who combined his athleticism with work ethic and a dangerous, well rounded arsenal to become the dominant welterweight of the past three years.
It can be said that St Pierre can do it all. There are the stories that he never really wrestled, yet made the Canadian Olympic team. In the UFC, it could be said that St Pierre is the best wrestler in the division. Jon Fitch, Josh Koschek? It was St Pierre with the takedowns. He has been explosive throughout his career.
St Pierre faces a surgery that has taken a step out of the ‘bounce of a lot of top tier athletes. They can still perform, but not quite exactly at the level pre-surgery.
It will also have a psychological effect on St Pierre, and this might have more of an effect than you would think. Over the years, things have gone well for St Pierre, and his mindset has remained focused. One thing he has displayed is that he is somewhat of a perfectionist, and perhaps got used to near perfect conditions for his camps and preparation. Fights were cancelled or postponed (not many) when St Pierre felt his conditions affected. He has never dealt with the self questioning that might come when he returns.
Because it is a rich and talented division, and the hungry fighters have been clogged with St Pierre at the top. Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger all present new challenges, and hard rematches against Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields could all be possibilities for St Pierre’s return.
It happened to Fedor Emelianenko. People adjusted to him, and more importantly, in his mid 30′s, his unbelievable blend of quickness and power waned just a bit.
The same is going to happen to Georges St Pierre – he will lose his edge and youth. Time catches everyone. I’m predicting that we will notice it when he comes back. Other than the obligatory unification bout against whoever is interim champion at the end of next year, Georges St Pierre has fought his last main event.