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The Debate – Who should be Georges St-Pierre’s opponent upon his return?

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Just under one week ago, the UFC announced that the sports biggest possible comeback is signed, sealed and delivered: Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre is officially back.

A fighter who left the game on top as a champion, a fighter who barely even lost a round and a fighter who the UFC desperately need with their scarcity of available superstars will once again step foot into the Octagon in late 2017.

It’s a proposition that has slowly gained steam over St-Pierre’s three-year hiatus but the question begs to be asked, who should he face upon his return?

With such a big question looming large over the future of Canada’s favorite son, we’ve tasked some of the MMA Latest News crew to make their case for just who should be the man to stand opposite St-Pierre when the cage door closes:

The case for Anderson Silva, by Nick Dwyer (@NickDwyerMMA)

For the better part of a decade, this was the super fight the UFC had to make. Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva- the greatest middleweight of all time against the greatest welterweight of all time. Two of the most successful champions in MMA history, who happened to peak at the same time, in the same organization. As fate would have it, this super fight was never made.

In today’s WME-IMG era of the UFC, it’s hard to imagine this fight wouldn’t have been put together. It was the hottest fight possible, between two long-reigning, dominant champions with huge fan appeal. Superfights simply weren’t proposed as frequently back then as they are today.

Now would this fight come with the same shine in 2017 as it would have 5 years ago? Of course not, but seeing George St-Pierre and Anderson Silva meet in the Octagon would still feel magical, and it’s a rare example of a non-title fight that could headline a PPV event.

Why risk throwing GSP into a fight with a top ten opponent after more than 3 years out of the sport? Could he pick up right where he left off? Sure, it’s possible, but why take that risk in his first fight back? Look no further than Anderson Silva’s uninspiring, controversial victory over ranked opponent Derek Brunson. That’s not the kind of fight we need to see these two legends in right now.

It’s the best option for Anderson Silva, the best option for Georges St-Pierre, it makes a lot of money for the UFC and would finally give fans the chance to see the greatest fight that never happened.

The case for Michael Bisping, by Darren Russell (@DRussellMMA)

Nobody deserves to welcome GSP back to the Octagon more than Michael Bisping.

When “The Count” avenged his most devastating defeat to Dan Henderson at UFC 204, he also overtook GSP in holding the most wins in the UFC with a total of 20.

Michael Bisping won TUF 3 way back in June 2006 and competed in the Octagon before the money, and the popularity came along. If anyone deserves a money fight, it’s him. He’s entering the final stages of his career and with recent victories over Anderson Silva and Luke Rockhold, he’s pushed his head right to the front of the queue.

Let’s face it, any GSP event in Canada would sell out. Bisping would bring an interesting edge to the fight with his heart, desire and I’m sure winning the fight is his “destiny”.

Bisping deserves the respect, the money and the limelight of this fight. He’s earned it more than any other fighter. Almost six hours of Octagon time in his career is astounding!

Do the right thing… give it to Mike!

The case for Nick Diaz, by Ruairi Carberry (@Ruairi67)

When the news broke late last week that Georges St-Pierre, would be returning to active competition, everyone in the MMA universe was clamoring to find out who he would face in the Octagon next.

Three years removed from his last fight inside a cage, St-Pierre watched from the sideline as new superstars emerged, old faces faded into retirement and the landscape of competition changed drastically with the introduction of USADA.

The former welterweight champion defended his title nine times before his self-imposed sabbatical. Despite the fact that the sport has changed dramatically St Pierre’s absence, his return is likely to be one of the biggest financial successes for the company this year. GSP, is still, a phenomenally skilled martial artist and one of the most gifted athletes to grace the sport.

He was one of the UFC’s marquee names before the McGregor/Rousey boom era, and because of this, it is important to place him in the cage with an opponent that will maximize the grandeur surrounding his return. Look no further than Stockton, California.

Nick Diaz and GSP have a turbulent history already. Having long accused St-Pierre of being afraid to share the cage with him, Diaz would get his chance to face the then-welterweight king at UFC158 Diaz lost the fight by unanimous decision, a lackluster affair that did not meet the expectations of the fans.

Although it was not a fight of the year contender, the bout was competitive throughout. GSP controlled the tempo of the fight by controlling Diaz on the mat. The time that was spent on the feet saw both scores with strikes. A couple of tactical changes from either man could see an extremely excitable second edition.

Despite the fact that action was not as exciting as anticipated, the build- up to the fight was extremely entertaining. Diaz and GSP are polar opposites to each other, and as everyone knows opposites attract. The rivalry has not died down even though their first fight took place over three years ago.

While speaking with BloodyElbow in August, St-Pierre claimed he would win the fight far more convincingly if it were to happen a second time. “I don’t mind, I am not afraid of Nick Diaz, I beat him last time, and I’ll beat even worse, I’ll beat him way worse next time that I’ll fight him.” Diaz’ response was outlandish and entertaining, as expected. Speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Nick claimed that GSP had failed to make the contracted weight for their championship bout in Canada. On top of that Nick made another claim about that night in Montreal that caused a stir; “First of all somebody frickin’ drugged me.” Nick Diaz, is adamant that he will not return to competition unless it is a money fight. He has reportedly turned down prospective bouts with Robbie Lawler and current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. GSP, like Diaz, is a bonafide star and if the two met for the second time it would be one of the biggest events of 2017.

Many feel that a return to competition for GSP means an immediate title fight at 170 pounds. A potential fight with Michael Bisping has also been discussed. St-Pierre is renowned for his ability to neutralize opponents attacks by taking the fight to where an individual is least comfortable. It is a large part of the reason he has taken little damage relative to the miles he has clocked inside the cage. To ask anyone to return after such a long absence and jump straight to the top of the food chain is ridiculous. Even if you are Georges St-Pierre.

Diaz’ last competed two years ago against Anderson Silva. He is still widely considered one of the best welterweight fighters in the world. GSP should return against somebody with significance in the division, that has name value and will test his skills considerably. That someone is Nick Diaz.

The case for Johny Hendricks, by Graeme Harper (@GraemeHarp)

Admittedly, this fight is the most lacking in terms of opponent ‘star power’ but it’s certainly the fight that makes the most sense.

Over three years ago, both Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks went toe-to-toe in the middle of the Octagon and to this day, the result of that fight is bitterly argued between fans and ultimately split the three ringside judges on the night. It was a fight that hinged on a lone opening round and now that GSP’s return is official, running this fight back is a must from a timing and logistical standpoint.

When St-Pierre left in 2013, he had cleaned out two generations worth of talent at welterweight. It is without question that he is greatest ever fighter to compete at 170 lbs – and in my own personal opinion, the best to ever do it – but expecting the Canadian to challenge the new breed successfully is just one step too far. Throwing a ring rusty St-Pierre into the deep end of a division he has nothing left to prove in is a decision that makes little to no sense and neither does feeding him to a fighter on the top of their game.

With Georges St-Pierre returning from a three-year hiatus, he needs to be eased back into the rigours of the fight game and with Johny Hendricks standing opposite, ‘Rush’ will at least have the comfort of preparing and fighting an opponent from his past and would also have the opportunity to put a contentious result and debate to bed.

If St-Pierre were to jump the queue for a title shot at either 170 or 185 lbs, the UFC will officially wave the white flag for meritocracy within the promotion. If the UFC pairs St-Pierre with Anderson Silva or Nick Diaz, they’re either putting on a fight that is years past its sell-by date or a  rematch of a completely one-sided fight against a fighter who hasn’t won since 2011. If the UFC put Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks into the cage one more time, however, the UFC are protecting a much-needed draw; they are providing an opportunity to end an unresolved controversy and they are treating everyone from the fans to the fighters with the respect that they deserve.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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