The UFC and MMA need a hero. It needs Georges St-Pierre to return.
The UFC and MMA are badly in need of mainstream stars.
UFC pound-for-pound great Jon Jones regularly gets booed out of buildings. A few years ago he was arrested for drunken driving. Last time he appeared in public he brawled on stage with his future opponent, Daniel Cormier. He then proceeded to bully Cormier, accusing him of being pregnant.
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is a great fighter, but he’s quiet and not exactly lighting up the sports mainstream. Same goes for Chris Weidman. Weidman upset Anderson Silva twice, but he still has a relatively low profile in mainstream culture. Same goes for UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks.
Other champs Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo, TJ Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson are all excellent fighters, but not really known outside of MMA.
The most famous fighter in the world right now is Ronda Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. Rousey, of course, is a huge mainstream name. The UFC can thank Strikeforce and Scott Coker, the current president of Bellator, for Rousey. Strikeforce gave Rousey and women’s MMA a chance at a time when the UFC wanted nothing to do with women’s MMA.
But Rousey too gets booed out of live events. After her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, and her refusal to shake Miesha Tate’s hand after submitting her twice in two years, she’s not the most popular MMA fighter out there.
That’s why GSP needs to return.
It’s been 10 months since GSP defeated Hendricks in a controversial decision.
And then GSP walked away. Think about that. GSP walked away from the bright lights of the UFC at the age of 32, after 12 straight victories.
GSP was at the top of the sport, making probably more than $1 million per fight.
What drove him away? GSP said he needed to deal with some personal issues. He was probably burnt out on fighting at such a high level for so long.
But MMA lost a lot when he walked away. It lost not only a well-conditioned, excellent fighter, but a true super hero of the sport, a man whom fans and fighters loved.
If the UFC is to ever get over the hump, and gain widespread acceptance in popular culture, let alone sanctioned in New York, it will need a hero like GSP to carry the sport on its back.
UFC President Dana White should do whatever he can to bring GSP back. He’s 33, and his skills are only going to deteriorate with age. One of the greatest fighters and role models for the sport is sitting it out and that’s not doing anyone in the UFC or MMA any good.