This past Saturday night was a quiet one for MMA fans, but if you felt like a fight, you still had plenty of options.
Most of us enjoy the other “combative sports.”
So, maybe, like me, you enjoyed a bit of the big GLORY 12 kickboxing show from New York City on Spike TV, which saw Andy Ristie vault himself to the top of the lightweight kickboxing world in an epic tournament performance. Great stuff!
Maybe you tuned in to the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios boxing PPV event from Macau, China, instead. The 5-to-1 favorite Pacquiao dominated the bout as anticipated, earning a unanimous decision and the 55th win of his Hall of Fame career.
He also won the WBO International Welterweight title, which means, well, essentially, nothing.
In boxing, fans and athletes alike often understand that championship belts really don’t mean that much. There are so many, that we just don’t pay much attention to the “alphabet soup” of sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF, IBO, etc.), or their rankings. They come and go. The same goes of “mandatory opponents” which are lined up; often, championship belts are vacated in pursuit of the best possible match.
This brings us back to MMA, where we seem to see things differently — but should we?
MMA, of course, has the opposite problem as boxing: one big organization recognizing each division champion. Sounds great: no confusion. The problem is, if a fighter is on the outs with that one promoter (Dana White and the UFC), s/he doesn’t have any other options.
Earlier this month at UFC 167, Georges St-Pierre defended his UFC Welterweight title in a spirited bout against Johny Hendricks. After the bout, the champion sounded confused and exhausted, describing a need to “hang up my gloves up for a bit and make sense of my life.”
“I can’t, I can’t sleep at night now. I’m going crazy. I have issues, man. I need to relax. I need to get out for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel like I’m going to let everything out now, but I have to keep some of my stuff, some part of my life, personal.”
Will White allow it? Or will he strip St-Pierre of the UFC title?
Here’s the thing: why should anyone care, least of all St-Pierre himself?
With his victory at UFC 167, St-Pierre earned his 19th UFC win and his 12th successful title defense, both UFC records. Should he choose to leave the promotion for a year, he will find himself in a title fight one way or another.
As in the case of Pacquiao, honor in the fight game(s) can only come from the quality of the opponent, and not the trinket around his (or her) waist.
Should St-Pierre decide to continue his MMA career, hopefully he does so in pursuit of what’s important to him, and not the UFC.