By Elias Cepeda
(“I am not im-pressed wit my lack of title de-fense.”)
It’s time to strip Georges St. Pierre of his UFC welterweight championship.
Ok, perhaps not at this very moment, but come May 1, it will have been over a year since the UFC champ has defended his 170lb strap. St. Pierre hasn’t run from challenges or fights, he’s just had several consecutive knee injuries (the most recent one, a torn ACL that required surgery to repair) that have forced him to pull out of scheduled belt defenses.
Carlos Condit just won a razor-thin interim title bout against Nick Diaz at UFC 143, but would have to wait until the new year is almost over before being able to fight GSP. The Canadian says he won’t be ready to fight again until November. Unfortunately, we’ve seen these situations in the UFC before and a standard has emerged of champions needing to defend their titles at least once a year. In 2004, UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir was in a motorcycle accident that put him on the shelf. Initially, when it was unknown if and when he would return, an interim title was created and was won by Andrei Arlovski. When it was clear that Mir would go longer than a year without defending his belt, the interim champ was made the “full” champ. It wasn’t about punishing Mir, it was simply about letting the division continue, with significant matchups made and fights promoted well.
Even GSP seems to agree that he shouldn’t be considered the UFC champion while going so long without defending the gold. “The way I see it, I am not the champion anymore on Saturday night. I have not fought since April, against my will, but I understand the champion must fight. You have to put the belt on the line in order to call yourself champion, the best in the world. Right now I am not the best in the world, I am injured,” he told UFC.com shortly before UFC 143.