GSP may finally be returning to the UFC. That is if his former manager is to be trusted.
On The MMA Hour, a radio show hosted by journalist Ariel Helwani, GSP’s former manager Stephane Patry suggests a minimum one-fight return for the former welterweight champ. “Georges is going to come back for one fight,” Patry told Helwani. “I can’t say he’s going to come back and go on a title run and do 10 fights, but I know for sure he’s going to come back for one fight.” Although this scoop is coming from someone intimate with St. Pierre (at least formerly), a return to the octagon for the Tristar-based fighter is purely speculation. However, if George St. Pierre does choose to come back, who would the UFC put in front of him for his comeback fight?
Here are four fighters that would make interesting opponents for “Rush”.
This fight may just be a pipe dream at this point, but before Hector Lombard was popped for steroids and subsequently suspended, the Cuban fighter was on track towards title contention after logging impressive victories over Nate Marquardt, Jake Shields, and Josh Burkman. GSP has always been vocal about the rampant PED use in the sport of MMA and presumably wouldn’t want to fight someone who has been caught red-handed like Lombard. However, Lombard claims he unknowingly took the illegal substance as a pill to relieve post weight cut sickness. In the unlikely event Lombard gets exonerated, a matchup with St. Pierre would do great in pay-per-view buys. I remember salivating over the possibility of this fight being booked after Hector Lombard dropped to 170 pounds and brutalized Nate Marquardt in his first fight. A showdown with George St. Pierre seemed inevitable. So, how would that showdown go down? GSP owns elite grappling and striking skills while having dynamic athleticism. The same could be said for Lombard with his Olympic level judo background and the hellfire missile launchers hanging off his shoulders (he has lightning hands). There is a good chance this fight would be a mostly standing affair as Hector’s innate strength and balance would most likely offset St. Pierre’s takedown attempts; a reason why this scrap looks so intriguing. Instead of dominating his opponent from the top position for the entirety of five rounds, GSP might actually have to dust off his boxing and Muay Thai for an extended period of time. The outcome of this fight is hard to predict. Lombard does have a reputation of gassing out as the rounds pile up while St. Pierre thrives in competing all five rounds, but you can’t count out “Showeather’s” massive power.
This one makes the most sense since Johny Hendricks was the last man to challenge Georges St. Pierre in what would be a very contentious split decision win for “Rush”. An immediate rematch was almost an afterthought but St. Pierre ultimately decided to step away. Hendricks would go on to win and subsequently lose the welterweight strap and while his recent victory over Matt Brown could help lock in a title fight, it is possible that “Bigg Rigg” jumps at the chance to avenge his controversial loss. The rematch could go a couple of different ways. Johny Hendricks went on record during the UFC 167 post-fight press conference saying he was only using “around 70% of his power” when throwing punches for fear of gassing out as the fight wore on. Despite not using all of his energy, Hendricks was visibly rocking St. Pierre with strikes and even close to getting a finish a few times. If the second bout saw a more aggressive Johny Hendricks coming out firing on all cylinders, the fight may end early in favor of the former All-American wrestler. On the other hand, GSP could utilize more movement than he did in the first fight to evade Hendricks’ power shots while setting up takedowns.
This one may throw off some fans, but if you can remember all the way back to early 2013 when Benson Henderson was still the lightweight champion, talks of a superfight between the two titleholders were pretty trendy. Alas, it was eventually shot down by Dana White and the MMA world moved on. With Benson Henderson’s successful foray into the welterweight division, the possibility of this fight happening would be higher than many people think. The two former champs are still amongst the most skilled and popular fighters in mixed martial arts and a scrap between the two would be a considerable draw. So how would this fight go? Both men are competent on the ground as well as standing up. Being the bigger and longer fighter, GSP would probably be able to defend most takedown attempts while landing some of his own. He would have to be careful on the ground though, as Benson Henderson has a slick submission game with almost half of his wins coming by tap out. Standing up, St. Pierre would most likely take advantage of his reach with his trusty jab. This fight has the potential to be a grappling chess match since both guys are accustomed to the grind, but the excellent takedown defense of both men could lead to most of the action coming via striking on the feet.
The holy grail of superfights at one point, alas, this bout never materialized. Whether it was due to disagreements regarding what weight class the fight would take place in or the two champions being preoccupied with worthy title challengers in their respective divisions, the stars couldn’t align for this scrap. Assuming St. Pierre does indeed return, he’d have hesitations about taking this bout for much of the same reasons he wouldn’t take on Lombard. Anderson Silva shockingly tested positive for steroids after his UFC 183 win over Nick Diaz who, a bit less shockingly, tested positive for marijuana. However, this is the fight almost everyone still wants to see and sooner rather than later; Silva is fading out of his prime while GSP also continues to age. Many have pontificated over the years on how the clash between GSP and the “Spider” would turn out. On one hand, St. Pierre could use his superior wrestling to dominate Silva on the ground. On the other hand, a rangy Silva could masterfully keep the distance and pick St. Pierre apart with strikes.
Although it would be fun to see George St. Pierre in the cage once more, it seems like he’s enjoying retirement. In addition to some high profile acting gigs that include some irritating, if not infuriating, energy drink commercials and superhero movies, St. Pierre may be jumping on to the professional pro wrestling circuit with a rumored WWE appearance in the woodworks.
Regardless of his decision to return to the cage or stay retired MMA fans should be grateful for all the great performances the welterweight GOAT put on and wish him the best in any and all his future endeavors.
Author: AJ Agnihotri
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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