Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
So many possibilities, so little clarity. UFC 154 might have served to reestablish Georges St-Pierre as the world's top welterweight but by the time the weekend was over, the top of his division was left in a temporary chaos, held hostage by St-Pierre's future opportunities and understandable unwillingness to make a snap decision as well as a bizarre set of circumstances around the rest of it.
Follow along here: GSP isn't sure whether he'll stay in the division or have a catch weight fight with the sport's G.O.A.T.; Johny Hendricks is willing to wait as long as it takes to cash in his title shot against St-Pierre; Carlos Condit said that "eventually" he'd want a rematch with Martin Kampmann, insinuating that maybe he's not excited about that as a next fight; and Nick Diaz's manager Cesar Gracie said over the weekend they have no interest in a Condit rematch. Those names comprise the division's top four in most rankings. So who's fighting who? The top of the weight class may be in a holding pattern until St-Pierre makes his decision.
On to the predictions…
I believe St-Pierre when he says he gave no thought to Anderson Silva as he prepared for Condit. But over the next two weeks, that's going to change. St-Pierre spent plenty of time trying to convince himself he was the underdog against Condit; against Silva, he wouldn't have to try. He would be the underdog. If he truly wants the role, it's there for the taking. It's not something he owes anybody, and I don't think it should negatively effect his legacy to turn down the fight. I really have no idea what he'll ultimately decide but part of me believes one of these super fights has to happen.
Prediction: He fights Anderson Silva in May
Hendricks was basically told he was the top contender after beating Josh Koscheck in May. Then he had to fight Kampmann and won that fight, too. At 9-1, does he really have anything more to prove? I say no. The problem is that if St-Pierre fights Silva, Hendricks would have to wait about a year to get his chance. That's too long to wait. I have two possibilities for him. The first is that he draws Rory MacDonald if MacDonald beats BJ Penn, the other is that he fights Nick Diaz.
Prediction: Hendricks-MacDonald in the spring
What a valiant performance from Condit, who took the fight to St-Pierre for all 25 minutes. Hopefully, this was the kind of performance that raised his stock in the eyes of the fans, even in defeat. If that is the case, it should be reflected in increased attention and anticipation for his next fight.
Prediction: Condit faces Josh Koscheck
Back to the drawing board for Kampmann, who was done in by a troubling trend of slow starts. Even in some of his recent wins, Kampmann was hurt in the early going, but came back to win. Hendricks didn't offer him any chance to recover with a short, sharp left that put his lights out.
Prediction: He fights Erick Silva
The Frenchman came into the fight saying he planned to make a statement as a contender, but was lucky to escape with a controversial decision against Tom Lawlor. His inability to create space for himself was a reality check about where he stands. While he works on his wrestling and grappling, I'm betting the UFC sets him up with another striker.
Prediction: He fights Brad Tavares
Rafael dos Anjos
dos Anjos is 7-2 in his last nine fights with his only losses by split-decision and injury. In winning his third straight, he breezed past the veteran Mark Bocek, out-landing him 90-33 overall and scoring four takedowns. With little attention, dos Anjos is somewhere on the outer edges of the division's top 10. Now it's time to match him up that way.
Prediction: He faces the winner of December's Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon fight
At 39, Diabate is probably never going to challenge for the belt, but he sure can beat up opponents who don't bring any defense to their striking game or the ability to put the fight on the mat. He gets matched up with another standup assassin.
Prediction: He faces Jimi Manuwa
Since moving to featherweight, Elkins has made himself a contender, authoring four straight wins. His most recent, against Steve Siler, was another show of force, with six takedowns and 103 landed strikes. Elkins hasn't built any public momentum, partly because three of those four outings have been on the Facebook prelims. It's time for a bit more spotlight.
Prediction: He faces the winner of December's Chad Mendes vs. Hacran Dias fight
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