“I’m [expletive] scared to hold fights here” an irate Dana White said over the weekend as he addressed the verdict of the main event of Georges St-Pierre vs. Johnny Hendricks. The UFC head honcho spoke candidly about a fight wherein few watching felt that the victor earned the W, and the ones who did scored it for St-Pierre on a technicality more so then believing he won.
A fighter who was viewed as the best in the world got handily beat and then received a decision. He also is reportedly looking to retire for personal reasons. This is a big concern for UFC.
St-Pierre, the Welterweight UFC Champ, has spent the past half-decade using wrestling to hold most foes on the ground–putting together uncompetitive affairs that pulled high pay-per-view buyrates with a lone loss coming via KO to Matt Serra. Even the Serra fight was eventually avenged. Hendricks, a Midwestern, corn-fed wrestler who was a two-time NCAA national champion, simply beat the holy hell out of St-Pierre. By the end of the fight, St-Pierre sat dazed and confused, concussed like Tim Bradley earlier in this year, his faced chipped away like pharaohs in the sands.
Then came the decision that was met with a social media revolt, a peeved owner, and a champion who seemed more content on retirement then returning to get beat on again.
So how does this happen? For starters this speaks to the greater issue, that even at this stage in the game MMA is not respected by athletic commissions and more often than not some of the judges who spill over from boxing don’t know what they are watching or even worse, don’t care. The asinine argument that GSP won on points yet lost the fight simply shows that, at times, volume of punches is overrated as opposed to the damage that is inflicted. In at least three of the five rounds, Hendricks dealt more damage and came forward for the majority of the fight.
Then there is the white elephant in the room. GSP is the biggest draw for the UFC and, simply put, they are not doing the best job at creating new stars that draw well for their bread and butter pay-per-view system. The last million-dollar UFC pay-per-view event was three years ago with Brock Lesnar headlining a card in his return. Lesnar is long-since retired. This year’s three biggest draws have been GSP, Anderson Silva, and Jon Jones in that order, and two of those–GSP and Silva–will not be in the sport much longer. Who fills the void is the big question. Obviously someone will, but when you hear White saying that “GSP owes the company a fight in March” it is hard to wonder if they are looking to promote a big pay-per-view fight and hope to find a star between now and then.
If they don’t, GSP would have to do his title defense on Fox.