Ask Ant: Farewell to Georges St. Pierre Edition

By Anthony Walker Feb 23, 2019

Poll Question: Which fight with GSP do you wish had happened the most? 50% say Anderson Silva, 28% say Khabib, 12% say Woodley, 4% to Askren, and 2% to Whittaker and other

There’s no simple answer to this question for me. I think each opponent serves a purpose for certain circumstances and objectives. If we said of all-time, the Anderson Silva fight is definitely the right way to go. Considering that two clear candidates for greatest of all-time title were competing in their primes at the same time and separated by only one weight class makes this very obvious. There was also a point when both men had essentially cleaned out their divisions and the UFC was haphazardly throwing whoever could amass a win streak or the semblance of fandom to challenge both men. In hindsight, I’d pinpoint the UFC 111 and UFC 112 title defenses as the perfect time to match them up.

Now that fight would probably still be enjoyable to watch, but it would be far from the defining moment in the sport that it would’ve been in that era. It would at least carry some symbolic significance to see Silva fight for lineal belt that he dropped to Chris Weidman to close out his career.

Tyron Woodley and Robert Whittaker represent the possibilities of St. Pierre fully reentering the sport of mixed martial arts as opposed to being a one-off special attraction. If he were able to conquer the division that he abandoned or forge a new path as a defending middleweight champion, his legacy would’ve been boosted up even further.

Khabib Nurmagomedov represents another weight class to add to the legacy. Whether St. Pierre moved down to lightweight or if this started the often-discussed 165 pound division, his name attached to a third belt would be the deciding factor in establishing himself as the GOAT by putting further distance between other multi-weight class champions. Also being the first to defeat Nurmagomedov would be a tremendous feather in his cap.

A fight with Ben Askren would’ve been as close to a cross promotional super fight involving a UFC champion as we’ve seen in a long time. Every time we’ve come close, there’s always been a recent loss that takes away those stakes in a lineal sense. For example, Nick Diaz had already dropped a decision to Carlos Condit before facing St. Pierre which didn’t quite make it the superfight it was billed as.

Every one of these fights would’ve been entertaining and meaningful. It’s unfortunate that we won’t see them as of now. St. Pierre left the door open for Nurmagomedov and maybe the UFC will oblige that request before that door closes. However, as much we’d all love to see a great fighter continue doing what he does better than arguably anyone else in history, it’s even better to see him get out of an unforgiving world before it forces him out.

Europe1 asks: Someone on Twitter pointed out that because of the Wittman corner-segment on the ESPN cards, we rarely get to see the ring girls anymore! Is this a tragedy unparalleled in the history of mankind, or a refreshing change? What is the position of Ring Girls in modern combat sports?

I was so busy enjoying the additional commentary of Trevor Wittman, that I didn’t even notice that the ring, excuse me, Octagon girls weren’t being shown. As your average heterosexual male, I do appreciate the sight of a beautiful woman. However, it adds literally nothing to my experience as a combat sports fan.

They appear for all of a few seconds and walk around the cage holding up a piece of cardboard with a number. Other than that they stand in the background at weigh-ins and pretend to care about what’s going on in front of them. If they disappeared now, I doubt many of us would notice. A ring card girl is such a longstanding part of the fight game that I’m sure there will be some traditionalists that staunchly disagree with my position. I’m guessing they would probably be the same ones who don’t take kindly to Elias Theodorou’s gender bending role with Invicta FC. To each his own, but anybody who needs to see a half naked woman to enjoy a fight probably isn’t a true fan. That being said, I did miss Chandella Powell.

Fluffernutter asks: Do any of the larger MMA organizations send scouts to sign prospects that are seniors in college (and on their last year of NCAA eligibility)?

Bruh, that name though...I know that scouts have been known to check the collegiate wrestling world. Team Alpha Male, Team Takedown, and AKA have been among several camps that have looked at NCAA standouts for the next big name in mixed martial arts.

However, I can’t say for certain whether the promotions themselves have. The UFC has been known to scout the regional circuit with The Ultimate Fighter, Looking For A Fight, and the Tuesday Night Contender Series being high profile talent seeking ventures.

Bellator has probably come the closest to doing this. Signing young talent like Aaron Pico and Ed Ruth before they even stepped foot in the cage is a big step towards that direction. Ruth already concluded his college wrestling career before going under contract and Pico was already competing internationally in wrestling and pankration instead of attending college.

As the UFC continues to have a stranglehold on the sport, other promotions would be wise to focus on homegrown talent. While the prestige and reach of the UFC will still lure the majority of prospects, scooping up some key names before they have a chance to get on Endeavor’s radar might be their best bet to maintain some of the market share.

The development deal to keep Greg Hardy under the UFC umbrella shows that there is the potential for them to begin moving in on the prospect market more aggressively. That would mean that Bellator among others would have to double down on their scouting efforts to keep up.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. An arms race at the collegiate level could have ripple effects that we haven’t begun to consider. Perhaps a more structured amateur program similar to boxing and wrestling could be the result. Maybe there will be some negative effects on the regional MMA scene. Either way, the contracts given to Hardy, Pico, and Ruth might be the biggest developments in the sport that not many people are paying attention to.
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