This afternoon, everyone’s favorite multi-platform MMA reporter Ariel Helwani (seriously, how many employers does he have?) has been tweeting that the UFC is targeting two huge welterweight battles for its return to Montreal this March. A main event title fight between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz is planned, but apparently, “isn’t done yet,” while a sure-to-be co-main event between Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit is set. It goes without saying that these are the two biggest fights that could have been made in the division that do not include Johny Hendricks. Here are couple of immediate thoughts:
Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit will be a very exciting fight, similar to the first, and I would be very surprised if it doesn’t win fight of the night. It’s also the perfect fight for Condit coming off the loss to St. Pierre. Why not put him in another big fight to determine if he deserves to stay in the upper echelon of the welterweight division? There’s really no better opponent for him to do that against than MacDonald, especially with Johny Hendricks claiming that he is staying on the sideline until he gets a title shot. If Condit is able to beat MacDonald for the second time, it won’t be out of the realm of possibility for him to get a quick title shot, especially if Diaz takes the strap from GSP.
At the same time, I fear this is too soon for Rory. I get that MacDonald has been talking about how the possibility of avenging his loss to Condit is the biggest thing for him to accomplish in the near term. But I also have heard him repeatedly say that he will not fight his training partner, GSP, whether for the title or not. So if he beats Condit in March, where would he go from there? A fight against GSP would be the next logical step and, arguably, a fight against anyone else would be at best a lateral step at this point in his career. Why not give him a couple more fights before getting to the big Condit fight? By that point, there will be a much better chance GSP will have lost some of his dominance, or perhaps even left the welterweight division entirely.
Switching gears, who would have ever thought that Georges St. Pierre agreeing to defend his title against Nick Diaz would come off as the most conservative course of action available to him? For some reason, it seems like he is taking the easier way out when the alternatives are moving up to finally challenge Anderson Silva or giving the white-hot Hendricks his shot at the gold. No knock on Nick, who I think is generally very deserving of the fight, but it just seems that GSP’s top game and overall athleticism will give Nick a lot more trouble than it would the other two, especially considering some of Nick’s losses in the octagon and what Benson Henderson did to his brother Nate last weekend.
Then there is Nick Diaz, who finally gets what he wants, a chance to prove to the world that Georges St. Pierre is overrated. The key for Diaz will likely be getting GSP to lose his cool and turn the fight into more of a slug fest. Unfortunately, getting under GSP’s skin did nothing to help Josh Koscheck or Dan Hardy. If nothing else, with Diaz we can expect the unexpected, and are sure to get a bunch of great moments in the lead up to the fight that will cause Dana White to grow hair, have it turn gray, and then immediately fall out. For starters, even money says that Diaz is the one still holding things up before the bout can be announced as official.
Even though it may seem like I have reservations about these bouts, don’t get me wrong. This is instantly the card I am looking most forward to in 2013, and I will be making the trip up north to attend. I think that, notwithstanding the fact that the timing might not be quite right for either fight, these fights have the potential to be the best pair of welterweight fights ever to go back to back on a card.
Sorry again, Johny Hendricks.