This past weekend, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St Pierre defended his belt with a controversial five round Split Decision win over Johny Hendrix. Post-fight quotes include Hendricks saying ‘He knows that is my belt’, UFC President Dana White asking ‘does anyone think GSP won that fight?’ and GSP himself saying he was emotional and would be going away for a little while. So how does this shake out for the UFC and GSP, who is their biggest draw and longest running champion?
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St Pierre has been hinting around about taking a break, or having a brief retirement. Without any details or inside info, this sounds like he is leaving to try his hand at acting or movies or something like that. St Pierre is a big draw, and in his native Canada, where there is a robust movie industry, he is well liked and sponsored. St Pierre is probably the next UFC fighter to break into the ‘Hollywood’ type of scene, like Gina Carano and Randy Couture first. If this is the case, then what is to come is going to be rocky.
White, with his typical acerbity, said St Pierre owes Hendricks and the fans a fast return to the octagon. Hendricks too, is going to be vocal about looking for an immediate rematch.
If St Pierre was not careful with his contract and image, like Couture was, then the UFC mayactually have a contractual right to decide if he can appear in movies or not. Should the UFC invoke this power and force St Pierre back into the octagon before heading off to retirement, then that is a bad situation and a bad way to treat a fighter than has been loyal and is now a star.
Could we potentially see something like Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks for an interim title? If St Pierre wants to say take a year off and fight next November while he does whatever, the UFC would be hard pressed to just strip him. So a lot will be decided in the next few days as this plays itself out.