Editorial UFC

Khabib vs. GSP – Thanks, but No Thanks!

UFC great and mixed martial arts pioneer and prodigy Georges St-Pierre officially announced his retirement from professional fighting yesterday, February 21. Not before, however, it was reported that his team had tried to set up one last super fight before “Rush” (26-2) would ride off into the sunset, against current undefeated Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0). Nurmagomedov was reportedly on board, and honored for the opportunity to fight his longtime idol.

The potential of this matchup, for the UFC and fight fans alike, was enormous. Both fighters have hugely loyal fan bases, and there’s no doubt that the event could have generated massive pay-per-view buys. However, the UFC quickly shot down the idea, and in my opinion, did the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see the fight. But, the UFC Lightweight division is absolutely stacked, and the top ranks have been held up for far too long with too much talent going to waste. Because of that, I say Khabib vs. GSP, thanks, but no thanks!

The UFC Lightweight division is absolutely stacked, and not just in talent, but in numbers as well. There are currently 91 fighters in the division, which is the largest in the UFC. Compare that to the roster sizes of the Heavyweight division (43) and Flyweight division (19), and it’s easy to see why congestion has frequently occured at 155 lbs. Add that to the fact that over the last 3 years two champions were stripped of UFC gold because of inactivity and injury (Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, respectively).  Now, fighters in the upper echelon of the Lightweight division are becoming more and more frustrated concerning  future title opportunities.

This week, both Dustin Poirier (#3) and Al Iaquinta (#4) asked the UFC to be released. “Raging” Al hinted that the UFC might indeed have a response, by matching he and Poirier against each other in the near future. Conor McGregor (#2) has been eyeing a deal for a fight with Donald Cerrone (#9), which should clear things up a bit in the top 10. Tony Ferguson is clearly the number 1 contender in the division, and a fight between he and
Nurmagomedov seems inevitable. However, that fight has been scheduled and cancelled four times already, with both fighters pulling out because of freak injuries and unforeseen circumstances.

After being asked if he would be interested in booking that fight for a fifth time, Dana White replied with an emphatic “Hell no,” when asked back in April of 2018.  However, more recently Dana White has said that Tony Ferguson deserves Khabib Nurmagomedov, when Khabib is eligible to fight after returning from suspension (for the post fight brawl at UFC 229) in April of this year. However, Nurmagomedov has stated that he won’t return to action until his teammates’ suspensions are complete (for participating in that same brawl), which would be in October.

Most damningly, the UFC Lightweight title has been defended only once since 2016.  A super fight between Khabib and GSP would only extend that horrific statistic.  This time, the UFC is doing what’s best for it’s fighters, regardless of how badly fans would like to see these two UFC giants clash inside the cage.  Nurmagomedov needs to fight Tony Ferguson to re-establish competetivity inside the ranks of the Lightweight division.   That’s why I say Khabib vs. GSP, thanks, but no thanks!

What do you think? Would you have liked to see Khabib vs. GSP? Like, comment and subscribe!

Edit Shortly after publication of this editorial, it was announced that Dustin Poirier will face Max Holloway at UFC 236 for the interim Lightweight title. Holloway, who is the current UFC Featherweight champion, will move up in weight to challenge Poirier. Tony Ferguson reportedly turned the offer down.

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