Opinion: The UFC and Unpredictable Matchmaking
By Jesse Heitz
The UFC and its highly unusual matchmaking process have made headlines yet again. It looks as if Johny Henricks’ title hopes may get put on the shelf once more, this time in favor of a heavily rumored super fight between Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. Indeed, these are just rumors, and as anyone who has followed MMA for any period of time knows, the fight game is horrendous for the unfettered exchange of rumors.
Then again, there may very well be some truth to this latest round of rumors. As fans, we’ve been sitting on the edge of our seats awaiting this fight for years now, but nothing has ever materialized. However, in a recent interview, UFC President, Dana White, gave precedence to incessant chatter by stating,
“I am literally going to call Georges St-Pierre today. We’ll see what he wants to do. I’m just feeling him out.
I’m calling him up saying, ‘So, you’ve had a long time off. You had a vacation. What’s up? What are you thinking about?’ I want to see what he says.
If Georges says to me, ‘I want to fight Anderson Silva’, you think I’m going to go, ‘No you’re not, you’re fighting Johny Hendricks’?”
We all know that as the greatest promoter in the business, Dana White is prone to exaggerating things. As such, it would be easy to chalk this up as a way to either gauge public interest in such a fight, or it could be something as simple as trademark off-the-cuff Dana White banter. However, a few weeks ago in an interview with Sherdog Radio Network GSP’s trainer, Firas Zahabi, seemed to hint at GSP’s interest in fighting Anderson Silva when he stated,
“The UFC is going to obviously tell us what they want to do. I think Georges would do either fight to be honest with you, if he fights Hendricks, I think [St-Pierre] could fight for longer. He could have more fights after that. If he fights Anderson Silva, I could really see that being his last fight. He’ll retire after that because there won’t be a bigger fight for him to do, I think, anymore in his career.
Win or lose, I think he’ll probably end on that note, on Anderson Silva. Maybe that’s why it’s been pushed back a little bit, but I think when it does happen, it’ll be the last one because once he goes up a weight class, he’s never coming back down.”
It would be nice to hear from GSP on this matter, but in lieu of such a development, we’ll have to assume that GSP and Dana White have a distinct interest in putting together the St-Pierre vs. Silva fight. I can honestly say that this is a fight I wouldn’t mind seeing, but only after GSP thoroughly cleans out his division, and he hasn’t done that yet.
Still standing is the one man in the UFC’s Welterweight Division that could very well take GSP’s crown. That man is Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is an overall 4-time NCAA All-American, taking home two national titles in that span. He’s got exceptional and explosive striking, enough to put down the durable Jon Fitch. He’s a dangerous combination for someone like GSP. Not to mention that he’s riding a 6-fight win-streak in which he defeated three former title challengers.
Some fans may very well applaud such a long-overdue super fight, but I am certainly not one of them. Why is it that Hendricks keeps getting put on the back burner? He had to take a backseat for Nick Diaz who was coming off of not only a loss to Carlos Condit, but a lengthy suspension for testing positive for marijuana. Now we hear that not only is a fight with Silva likely, but that GSP might retire afterward. I’m no fan of throwing around the term “ducking”, but something fishy seems to be going on here.