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The Juggernaut MMA News Report 12.19.13: UFC Welterweight Division Remains Strong
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 12.19.2013









The UFC's Welterweight Division Chugs Along



It's now been nearly one full week since the greatest welterweight in MMA history decided to take a sabbatical from the sport. Georges St. Pierre may or may not ever compete professionally again, although we can all assume the odds are in the favor that he will. After all, he's only 32-years-old and in great physical condition. In any event, it looks like the majority of 2014, if not all of next year, will consist of a GSP-free welterweight division in the UFC.

Is that such a bad thing?

From a business perspective, as it relates to the organization's bottom line, certainly it sucks. For fight fans, it does not.

A majority of fight fans over the past several years have criticized Georges at every turn for what is perceived to be a boring, point style of fighting. He has not finished an opponent since B.J. Penn (the lightweight titleholder at the time in 2009), meaning he has spent the past four years going to one five-round decision after another. Now, the odds of the next UFC title fight (in March, when Johny Hendricks fights Robbie Lawler for the vacant strap) going five rounds for the first time since 2009 are slim.

Besides the issue of "exciting" styles and finishes, look at how GSP's absence impacts the rest of the new top 10, in addition to the aforementioned upcoming championship bout.

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley in March
Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields in March
Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia in February
Matt Brown, recovering from a back injury
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim on January 4

The winners of these fights (and Brown) will range from immediate contenders to hot properties as we get a sense of how the division shakes up in this new light. You have to assume should Condit defeat Woodley, he will get the first crack at Hendricks or Lawler next summer. As soon as Brown is able to return to action, he's one win away from a title fight as well. Especially with Brown, a fighter some are hesitant to fully get behind because of the perception that his quality of recent opponents has left something to be desired. Depending on timing, perhaps a match-up with the Lombard/Shields winner or MacDonald/Maia winner in the spring could springboard the next title challenger by this time next year.

All of these potential scenarios are FRESH and that is not a bad thing, especially when what we see more often than not are rematches across the board. Hell, UFC brass wanted to book a rematch between Condit and Nick Diaz, but the latter chose to remain on the shelf. Speaking of Diaz, he's a substantial wild card in all this, too. While he is apparently content to stay "retired" and focus on other business ventures, should he choose to return, (aside from the Condit fight), there are nothing BUT fresh match-ups for him as well.

Would all this excitement have increased tenfold if the UFC were able to bring in Ben Askren, the former Bellator champion? Hell yeah, but we cannot get everything we want. Unfortunately.

Be that as it may, what we do have to look forward to in 2014 is a buzz worthy welterweight division for the first time in quite a while. This is not to take away from the fact that GSP was and is the best 170-pounder in the world. For some, that may be reason enough to lose some interest in what I described above, because of the feeling that everyone is fighting for #2 at best. Nobody has beaten Georges in almost six years and for the time being, that number will only continue to grow.

Be that as it may in the background, staring us in our collective faces in just a few short weeks are big fights after big fights inside this weight class. You cannot ask for much else, or am I just being optimistic?












JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS


- Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva has been suspended by the UFC for nine months and will lose his right to the $50,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus given to both he and Mark Hunt (all $100k of that bonus goes to the Samoan now) for their December 7th fight in Australia. Plus, the result of the fight will change from a draw to a no contest on his record (while remaining a draw for Hunt).

Bigfoot failed his test as it showed elevated levels of testosterone, this despite the fact that he was approved for TRT going into the fight.

In response, Silva attributed the mistake on Facebook to a "UFC doctor" named Marcio Tannure who told him to increase his dosage. In reality, Tannure has no affiliation with the organization, but is a Brazilian-based physician. Meanwhile, Bigfoot says the mistake was not his fault and he is going about finding what his best legal recourse may be.

This marks Silva's second failed drug test during his professional career. In 2008, he was popped for the anabolic steroid, boldenone, following his TKO win over Justin Eilers for the EliteXC championship. He had gone more than five years without a peep, until this UFC-conducted exam.

- Bellator middleweight contender Doug Marshall failed his Bellator 109 drug test, the show in which he challenged (and lost to) middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko. Marshall's failure for an undisclosed banned substance will keep him out of action through February.

- As mentioned earlier, the UFC confirmed Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley as the co-main event for UFC 171 in Dallas in March. The headliner will see Johny Hendricks fight Robbie Lawler for the newly vacant welterweight championship.

- World Series of Fighting has booked a strawweight championship bout for WSOF 8 on January 18 between top ranked Jessica Aguilar and undefeated 36-year-old prospect Alida Gray.

- In Brazil, Andre Pederneiras is in the process of trying to book an intergender MMA fight this Friday at Shooto 45 according to MMAFighting.com. The Brazilian Athletic Commission is not too happy about it and may attempt to prevent this fight from happening later today at weigh-ins when the official card is presented to them. Scheduled for three rounds in the bantamweight division is the proposed bout between Emerson Falcao and Juliana Velasquez.

- Added to the UFC 170 card for late-February is a big bantamweight fight pitting Francisco Rivera (10-2, 1 NC) against Raphael Assuncao (21-4). "Cisco" Rivera is 5-1 with 1 no contest since dropping to bantamweight two yeas ago. The no contest came from a failed drug test after he knocked out Roland Delorme (an over-the-counter supplement caused the failure). Since returning from that suspension, he knocked out both Edwin Figueroa and George Roop this year.

Meanwhile, Assuncao is 5-0 at 135-pounds. This year, he has submitted Vaughan Lee and he stopped the momentum of T.J. Dillashaw with a split decision win two months ago.



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