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The UFC’s Future More Uncertain Than Ever in the Wake of GSP’s Departure

(Photo via Getty)

The UFC can undergo a new renaissance or it can further fade into Toughman on FX-level obscurity—and it’s actions in the aftermath of GSP’s hiatus (and possible retirement) from MMA will determine which path the company takes.

GSP’s departure has come at a devastating time. The UFC is in a rut. TUF has long since stopped being the advertising vehicle/farm system it was years ago. Ratings are down. The worst part of all is that PPV—the UFC’s chief source of revenue—is lagging too. The culprit is a lack of stars, or rather the UFC’s apparent inability to replace the fading ones.

The UFC lost Chuck Liddell. The UFC lost Brock Lesnar. Rashad Evans, a good draw in his own right, is aging, as is the recently-toppled Anderson Silva. Ronda Rousey lost her luster and already put an expiration date on her career.

Now they’re short a Canadian superhero, a man who’s drawn an average of 800,000 buys over the last three years. And there are no young studs to pick up the slack. Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez are not fit to carry the company on their shoulders judging by the buyrates on their recent PPVs. The UFC’s young, great ethnic hopes—Tiequan Zhang, Erik Perez, and Erick Silva—haven’t developed as planned. Most importantly, the strategy of grooming Rory MacDonald to be GSP’s replacement has failed (or has at least been delayed).

The UFC’s future is still on the backs of aging warhorses whose knees are beginning to buckle.

Yet there is still hope.


Armchair Matchmaker: ‘UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks’ Edition

(Looks like someone could use a male nurse right about now. Photo via Getty.)

Now three days removed from the most controversial title fight decision since two title fights ago, it seems that we cannot stop talking about the rumors surrounding Georges St. Pierre, his future in the UFC, and what he “owes us,” if anything. But what about the rest of the “doomed” welterweight division, and everyone else who walked away from UFC 167 with a win?

That’s right, it’s armchair matchmaker time, bitches. Join us after the jump for the only non GSP-related article you will read today.


UFC 167 Salaries: St-Pierre, Evans, Lawler Take Biggest Shares of $1,841,000 Disclosed Payroll

(Rashad Evans made a quarter-million dollars for doing something most Brazilians would do for free. / Photo via Esther Lin, MMAFighting)

The 24 fighters who competed at Saturday’s UFC 167 event in Las Vegas split $1,841,000 in disclosed salaries and performance bonuses, according to figures released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, with Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans, and Robbie Lawler earning the biggest checks. Of course, the $450,000 total for GSP doesn’t include his cut of the event’s pay-per-view revenue — an incentive granted to the UFC’s top stars which has helped give the welterweight champ an estimated annual income of $12 million.

Check out the numbers below, and keep in mind that they don’t include additional revenue from sponsorships or undisclosed “locker room bonuses,” or deductions for taxes, insurance, and license fees.

Georges St-Pierre: $450,000 (no win bonus, includes $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus)
def. Johny Hendricks: $100,000 (includes $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus)

Rashad Evans: $250,000 (includes $125,000 win bonus)
def. Chael Sonnen: $100,000

Robbie Lawler: $166,000 (includes $83,000 win bonus)
def. Rory MacDonald: $50,000

Tyron Woodley: $154,000 (includes $52,000 win bonus, $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus)
def. Josh Koscheck: $78,000


UFC 167: The Card That Doomed The Welterweight Division

(A seemingly victorious Hendricks celebrates immediately after the fifth round ended, before the judges decision was announced. / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

UFC 167 left the welterweight division in a violent tailspin from which it might not recover.

Heading into the PPV, the UFC trotted out the tired “If you were to build a fighter that could beat [insert champion], it’d be [insert challenger]” marketing formula. True, challenger Johny Hendricks‘ great wrestling and powerful hands were a great stylistic matchup against champion Georges St.Pierre‘s takedowns and iffy chin. But the MMA world said the same things about Josh Koscheck. His wrestling was too good for GSP to take him down, and since GSP couldn’t take him down, Koscheck would make use of his advantage in striking power. This, of course, didn’t happen. GSP jabbed Koscheck’s orbital bone into splinters for 25 minutes.

So why should we have expected anything else from GSP-Hendricks? GSP was the dominant champ. Hendricks was the Guy to Beat GSP™ of the month; a challenger who was, in reality, no challenge at all.

This fight was intertwined with another: Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler.

Do you think it was a coincidence that Rory MacDonald and GSP were fighting on the same card? The UFC was likely hoping for both MacDonald and St.Pierre to be victorious. Dana White could fulfill his sick fantasy of watching teammates fight, and the UFC would have a highly bankable future title fight: Georges St.Pierre vs. Rory MacDonald, the fight that sells itself. The biggest star (according to Dana) in the UFC’s history would fight his protegee over the holy grail of MMA: A UFC title. Dana White insisted before UFC 167 that the fight was going to happen.

But you know the saying about the best laid schemes of mice and men (and fight promoters)…


UFC 167 Results: St-Pierre Wins Controversial Decision Against Hendricks

(Tan advantage: Hendricks. Beard advantage: Hendricks. Really, I don’t see how GSP has a shot here. Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the UFC, and so much has changed since the wild, awkward days of the early 1990s. Of course, the UFC’s welterweight division has stayed pretty much the same since 2008 — with Georges St. Pierre at the top, dispatching all comers. Will Johny Hendricks be the man to end St-Pierre’s 11-fight win streak and take the gold belt for himself? Nah, probably not. But if you’re a GSP fan, that shouldn’t really matter.

Also on tonight’s UFC 167 lineup: Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans duke it out for no apparent reason, while GSP’s heir-apparent Rory MacDonald faces old-school banger Robbie Lawler in a classic meeting of suit guy vs. t-shirt guy. Handling the play-by-play for the PPV broadcast will be Anthony Gannon, who will be stacking live results after the jump beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and throw your own thoughts down in the comments section. Thanks for coming.


Ben vs. Jared — ‘UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks’ Edition

(PRIDE t-shirt > tailored suit. Always. You should know this by now, Rory. / Photo via MMAFighting)

The UFC’s latest pay-per-view spectacular goes down tomorrow night in Las Vegas, and we’ll be liveblogging the main card action beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. To help get you in the mood, CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and staff writer Jared Jones have reunited for a bullshit session about all of UFC 167‘s most important themes. Or at least some of them. Mostly we’ll be posting GIFs and talking about online gambling, like usual. Enjoy…

You don’t actually believe Johny Hendricks has a shot here, do you?

BG: No sir, I do not. I really don’t see how this fight plays out any differently than GSP’s second fight against Josh Koscheck, to be honest. Yes, Hendricks can knock you out with his (generously telegraphed) left hand if you stand in front of him, but he’s just not a technically sound striker, and St. Pierre won’t be standing in front of him except for the brief moments that precede a blast double-leg takedown. Yes, Hendricks is a skilled wrestler, but as it applies to MMA, St. Pierre is a much, much better wrestler.

GSP will spend all five rounds out-striking Hendricks and scoring the occasional takedown just to prove that he can, running up his already absurd statistical records in the process. In fact, I’m so sure that this will be the outcome that I’m not even looking forward to this fight all that much. Jared may have given this one a “coolbeans!” in this week’s GIF-Ranking column, but to me, GSP vs. Hendricks is nothing more than Matt Hughes’s ambivalent shrug.

JJ: Did Rudy Ruettiger have “a shot” at making the dress roster of the 1975 Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Did Michael Oher have “a shot” at rising from the ashes of a broken home to eventually be drafted in the 2009 NFL draft?! DID KIRK GIBSON, DOWN TWO DECENT LEGS AND STOMACH RIDDLED WITH THE FLU, HAVE “A SHOT” AT PINCH-HITTING A 9th INNING, WALK OFF HOME RUN IN GAME 1 OF THE 1988 WORLD SERIES?!!

Matt Serra has arms the size of Baby Sinclair, yet he was able to touch the chin of GSP. Johny Hendricks, on the other hand, punches like a Super Saiyan Goku on steroids. So yes, Ben, I think he has “a shot.”

And that’s pretty much it.

As a fan, how psyched will you be if Robbie Lawler knocks Rory MacDonald the fuck out?


Gambling Addiction Enabler: ‘UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks’ Edition

(JUST TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY!! Image via Adam Doyle.)

By Dan “Get Off Me” George

With a win over Johny Hendricks this weekend, welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre will break *three* UFC records: Most UFC wins ever (!), Most title bout wins ever (!!) and dependent on how long the fight lasts, most octagon hours logged ever (meh). It’s an intriguing prospect to say the least, and a fight that headlines a card stacked to the brim with equally intriguing prospects and matchups.

But you don’t care about octagon records or intriguing prospects, you care about money. Cash. Doubloons. “A whole lotta Kale chips,” if you know what I’m saying. That’s where we come in, delivering the pound-for-pound best gambling advice week after week after tireless week. So join us after the jump to sneak a peek at the UFC 167 gambling lines (courtesy of BestFightOdds) and get in on more gambling advice than your broke ass will even know what to do with.

Stay the Hell Away From:

Josh Koscheck (-105) vs. Tyron Woodley (-115)

Koscheck is looking to avoid losing his third straight while Woodley will be trying to avoid going 1-3 in his last four bouts. The skill sets of both fighters here are very similar — strong wrestlers who often opt for a stand up affair — hence the almost even odds here. But in a game of tag where both fighters have found success (coupled with Fraggle’s penchant for his signature eye poke), picking a winner at the window is a true coin flip. Skip it.


GIF-Ranking the ‘UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks’ Main Card Fights By Interest Level

gsp georges st. pierre dancing tv show funny mma gifs gif gallery
(If there was ever a time for GSP and Anderson Silva to form a 90′s R&B group, it is now.)

Despite the UFC’s best efforts to protect their pretty boy welterweight champion (SARCASM), Georges St. Pierre will in fact be facing top contender Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 this weekend. The fight headlines what is primed to be one of the UFC’s more stacked cards of the year (*fingers crossed*), which isn’t saying much when considering the cards that have preceded it, but still.

In any case, we’re not always the Debbie Downers you guys make us out to be, so we decided to rank the UFC 167 main card fights using only the power of optimism and the almighty gif. Enjoy.

#5 – Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen

In terms of pure drawing power, it makes sense that Sonnen vs. Evans would find itself as the co-main event of the evening. But when we step back and consider what a win would mean for either fighter in terms of their division, it becomes a significantly less intriguing fight to say the least. (Ed note: I know, it’s not exactly the “glass half full” mentality we were hoping to establish, but baby steps, you guys.)

Simply put, both Sonnen and Evans have done about as much as they can do at 205 lbs: they’ve fought and been dominated by Jon Jones, they’ve picked up wins over aging legends in recent bouts, and they stand about a snowball’s chance in hell of receiving another title shot. Not that every fight needs to be a “#1 contender bout” to interest us, but throw in the fact that Sonnen was already supposed to have returned to middleweight after fighting Shogun, that Evans is coming off a pair of less-than-entertaining affairs and that these guys are friends/co-hosts and you’ve got all the ingredients for a snoozer.

Oh yeah, and Sonnen has admitted that he isn’t exactly thrilled to be fighting Evans in the first place. When The American Gangster can’t even muster up the energy to throw a slightly racist death threat his opponent’s way, look out, brother. Official Ranking:


Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler Booked for UFC 167 in November

(You almost feel bad for Koscheck. Almost. / Photo via Getty)

UFC officials announced last night that the Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler matchup that Dana White liked so much has been formally booked. The two dangerous welterweights will face off at UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks, November 16th in Las Vegas.

Just like the GSP/Hendro main event, MacDonald vs. Lawler pits an athletically gifted Canadian phenom against an American southpaw with dynamite in his fists. Our prediction: Robbie Lawler knocks out GSP in a short-notice replacement fight after MacDonald and Hendricks are both injured while warming up backstage before the event. We’re actually willing to bet money on that, but you have to give us +150,000 odds. (Alternate prediction: Hendricks misses weight by over 20 pounds.)

MacDonald is riding a five-fight win streak in the Octagon, most recently earning a decision win in a snoozefest against Jake Ellenberger at UFC on FOX 8. Lawler is 2-0 since returning to the UFC as a welterweight, scoring knockouts of Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker.


Dana White “Likes” the Idea of Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald (And So Do We)

(White, seen here liking the idea of that thing we just told you about.)

Ahh, the Dana White post-fight media scrum, where fighters big and small are heralded for their gutsy performances inside the octagon or (rightfully) raked over the coals for the game of pattycake they played earlier in the evening. Tis truly the UFC’s answer to a “performance review.” Indeed. And for the reporters brave enough to withstand this gauntlet of guffaws, this marathon of misinformation? Surely the treasure that is insider info lies in store.

Take this potential nugget of knowledge, for instance, which was dropped by DW during the aforementioned Fight Night 26 media scrum over the weekend. When Matt Brown defeated Mike Pyle by murder as I predicted he would, “the media” jumped on the idea of a potential slugfest between Brown and Robbie Lawler next. Palms got sweaty, pants got tighter — you know the deal. His Whiteness was quick to shoot the matchup down, however, commenting that “he liked” the idea of Lawler instead facing perennial contender and collector of human flesh masks Rory MacDonald next, although he had no location or date for the potential fight in mind.

Lawler is coming off back-to-back KO’s of Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker, whereas MacDonald was last seen eeking out a unanimous decision in a snoozer over Jake Ellenberger at UFC on FOX 8, his fifth straight in the UFC. Do you like this fight, Potato Nation, or will MacDonald’s wrestling pedigree spell the end to Lawler’s dynamite second run in the UFC?

-J. Jones