Georges St-Pierre is still the welterweight champion, whether we like it or not. Last night, the most dominant champion in the division’s history took part in his toughest challenge in this historic streak in an extremely dense division.
After the fight however, the controversy reared its ugly head and decided to ruin the 20th anniversary event.
Just after the closing bell sounded, Twitter exploded with favorable score totals which crowned Johny Hendricks the new welterweight champ. Given from what we had all just seen, these scores rang true. Hendricks never faltered from his goal and was visibly frustrated when he was hit cleanly all the while landing big shots on the champion. Hendricks threw his hands up at the end of the fight and had a look on his face that resembled a man who had just achieved the biggest goal in his life, the thing he had strived for since he began fighting in MMA back in 2007, the same year that St-Pierre was on his way back up the divisional rankings to reclaim his belt.
Once the judges’ totals were read, viewers on television and those packed into the MGM Grand Garden Arena were stunned by a split-decision win for St-Pierre. The decision was separated by the scores in the first round with judge Glenn Trowbridge giving it to Hendricks, the only judge to do so. The rest of the rounds were scored identically for each judge.
The post-fight interviews were then conducted.
During Georges’ talk with Joe Rogan, he hinted at a possible retirement citing “personal problems” as his cause, forcing many to speculate as to what could possibly drive him from trudging on to the next defense of his title.
Well, given St-Pierre’s tenacity during training, it’s quite possible that mounting injuries after such a long and decorated career in the sport could be a big motivator behind his comments. It’s also not hard to imagine that the mental pressure of having to show up as the “best welterweight in the world” for so many years has taken a toll on his psyche.
This seems to have been lost on UFC president Dana White.
At the post-fight press conference of UFC 167, White expressed his own anger towards what he believed was a bad call by the judges appointed from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. White also went on to FOX Sports 1 to proclaim that St-Pierre owed the fans and the UFC a comeback to the Octagon to rematch Hendricks to put controversy to rest and to crown the true champion.
White has long been an advocate for fighter safety as he tries to push fighters towards retirement if the punishment they receive over their career becomes habit, so his intentions are probably not devoid of concern for St-Pierre’s safety. Sure a rematch would make a ton of money and sure, it would bring the UFC good press for booking a rematch to such a close and highly controversial fight. For White, though, I truly don’t believe this is why he is pushing the rematch.
St-Pierre, however, knows his own body. He knows it very, very well. If he really can’t sleep at night and struggles with his own mental fortitude, then perhaps getting hit the hardest he has ever been hit before simply scared St-Pierre who has continuously reiterated that he is indeed a human being who is capable of such emotions and physical damage.
For this, I commend St-Pierre. He knows as a fighter that a loss a very possible outcome to a fight and even in a win, damage will occur, so why not step out before problems with minor things become instead, a new way of life for him.
If this truly was the last time we see him, then good for St-Pierre for knowing when the best time to step away is not for his legacy, or the UFC, but for himself. That’s not too much to ask for a man with not only the most title defenses in UFC welterweight history, but most wins as well. Let’s not forget the most important fact of all: he’s only a human being.