(Take a good look at this photo lineup, MMA fans. Now, do you recognize the man who killed your dreams? PicProps: Flickr)
It goes without saying that there is a lot riding on Georges St. Pierre’s upcoming welterweight title defense against Jake Shields at UFC 129. More specifically, there is a lot riding on Shields not winning it. If the recently deposed Strikeforce middleweight champ were to actually pull off the upset – he was +400 as of this morning — it might be a huge financial windfall for the good people of NorCal (new tattoos for everybody!) but it would piss off absolutely everyone else in the industry.
Dana White, the Fertittas, Joe Silva, Ed Soares’ creditors, Steven Seagal, Canada and (last but certainly not least) the fans — we all have a significant interest in making sure things play out according to the odds for the next couple of months. So it begs the question: If Shields wins the UFC 170-pound title on April 30, does it make him the most hated man in all of mixed martial arts? We’re going to go out on a limb and say yes.
Think about it this way: If Shields dethrones the superstar champion in his home country during the first major show in Ontario (already a big time bummer) it totally destroys plans for that St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva superfight we’ve been drooling over. It also sends the UFC back to the drawing board only to surely deduce that the next guy to get a middleweight title shot will be Yushin Okami. No offense to The Thunderous One, but that smacks of a matchup that will induce Silva into doing the marimba for 25 minutes instead of front kicking somebody in the face. You won’t see that fight main-eventing a New Year’s Eve show like you would Silva vs. GSP, that’s for sure.
Additionally, a Shields win would send the message that St. Pierre’s recent efforts to become a better rounded fighter were all for naught. It would effectively usher-in a whole new era of hug-first fighting in the welterweight division, given that the short list of immediate challengers for the new champion would include Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. Excited yet? Well, how about this: Are you jacked for St. Pierre-Penn III? Not very? Well, that could be what you get if GSP loses, so get ready.
Seriously, it makes our heads hurt to even contemplate all the ramifications.
On the bright side though, Shields is taking steps this week to embrace his role as 170-pound supervillain. For starters, he’s announced plans to spend some time training with Chael Sonnen for UFC 129. That pretty much takes care of the hatred. Also, he’ll be working out with Bellator champ Ben Askren so that pretty much takes care of the boring part, too.
So, basically what we’re saying is: The fate of the entire free world pretty much rests in your impeccably-manicured hands, Georges. You know, no pressure.