It has been nearly five years since there has been a new UFC welterweight champion. Even when Georges St. Pierre lost his belt to Matt Serra back in 2007, people tended to put an asterisk on the loss. The fact GSP easily defeated Serra in their rematch only helped enforce the notion that he lost the belt by fluke.
Nevertheless, much like the BCS in college football, it’s time for a change. St. Pierre has stepped down from his throne and a new champion will be crowned next year. If injures don’t complicate the situation, the new champ will either be Johny Hendricks or Robbie Lawler.
GSP leaving the UFC could actually be good for the organization. There is a type of mystique in the division that we all love. Who are the new contenders? Who will rise to take the throne? These are all questions that will be answered soon enough, but the mystery behind the situation is good for the UFC. It gets people excited about it.
Fighters like Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz and even Jake Shields have to love the fact GSP is now gone. Each one of them lost their fights to the former champ. Unlike Hendricks, no one really showed any interest in giving them a rematch. Now that GSP is gone, there are brand new opportunities at hand, especially for the controversial Diaz and the surging Shields.
Opportunities are also available for risings stars who were jumbled at the bottom of the pile due to the traffic jam caused by GSP’s dominance at the top. One example is Tyron Woodley, who just landed a fight with Condit at UFC 171. A win there will put him on the fast track to title contention.
A title shot could also be on the horizon for fighters like Rory MacDonald and Matt Brown. One could argue that Brown was already a contender prior to GSP’s exit, but the road just got a little easier if he wants to become champion one day. For MacDonald, even if he hadn’t lost his bout with Lawler, he would have probably sat out until GSP was defeated before he got his title shot. It’s doubtful that the two would have agreed to fight each other.
Two years from now, the welterweight picture will be completely new and it’s all because the welterweight king has removed his crown. Which welterweight prince will now rise and claim the throne?