What if Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva Lose?

What if Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva Lose?

If GSP fights Hendricks before the year is out, then the two longest reigning Champions in UFC history will put their belts on the line in one year.  The main question the UFC needs it ask itself is “What happens to the divisions if they lose?”  Let’s put the immediate rematch option aside and pretend that was simply an Edgar anomaly, and take a look at what happens when a king is dethroned.

The simple fact is that both men are going to lose sooner rather than later.  Both men have talked about not feeling challenged, not having that same “fire” for fighting and both have openly discussed retirement and time limits in the sport, yet neither appears to be willing to permanently move up in weight to gain that fire back.  At some point it’s going to be less about the opponent beating them, than them beating themselves.

Let’s say Johny Hendricks is right, and GSP has never fought anyone like him before.  Let’s say this is his time and he actually dethrones the undisputed greatest WW of all time.  Does the UFC now build the Welterweight division around Big Rig?  Potentially, but the problem is that for all his top 10 wins and 15-1 record, Johny Hendricks is a beatable fighter (as evidenced by his splits to an aging Kos and tough but middling Pierce).  How much promotional push should an organization make when the belt may change hands with the next match?  WW is undeniably one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC.  With the “old” guard moving out and the new guard moving in, it’s only getting tougher with each passing year. The UFC has, unfortunately, had a situation similar to this.

BJ Penn was the undisputed king of, what most considered, the most stacked division in the UFC, when a nearly undefeated Frankie Edgar took his belt.  Like Hendricks, Edgar seems like a genuinely nice person but no amount of promotional push could make him the superstar BJ was.  Now the belt to the most stacked division is given away on free TV as the LW divisions top talent fails to attract big PPV numbers since the demise of it’s ruler.  GSP may be called “robotic” by some, but the fact is he is still one of the biggest draws in MMA with GQ good looks, a samurai spirit and one of the largest MMA markets (Canada) fully backing him, it’s going to be next to impossible for the UFC to find any single fighter that can fill his shoes.

While Hendricks/GSP is only conjecture at this point, Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman is happening in a little less than a month at UFC 162.  While Weidman doesn’t possess the resume of some other title challengers, he does appear to possess large quantities of The Spiders kryptonite.  Like GSP, Silva has reigned for so long and looked so invincible that it’s nearly impossible to imagine a Middleweight division without him.  Yet that’s exactly what the UFC needs to plan for if the undefeated underdog pulls off the victory.  Again, the UFC has dealt with a similar situation before.

In May of 2007 Chuck Liddell sat atop the Light Heavyweight and P4P ladders.  Having already avenged his only other two losses, he was looking to avenge his last in typical highlight reel fashion against Rampage Jackson.  We all know how that went.  What happened next was that the LHW title, once the most prestigious in MMA, was sent into turmoil when title after title was exchanged with barley a defense in between.  Not until a young upstart, who had never even fought an MMA match when the Iceman fell, was able to capture and hold the belt.  Is it so inconceivable that we see a scenario where Vitor beats Weidman, Yushin beats Vitor, Bisping beats Yushin and so on and so on for several years until a relative unknown at this point is able to capture the hold the belt, restoring its prestige in MMA?

The UFC is no longer the fringe sport with a die hard fan base that kept it relevant like it was when Liddell lost his title.  It is now an international powerhouse in the sports world.  How it handles the loss of it’s two most prominent, international ambassadors will show how far it’s come as a legitimate enterprise and how much farther it still has to go.

11 COMMENTS
  • AlphaOmega says:

    What’ll happen? Both GSP and Silva will get an instant rematch, same as Penn. We’ve seen what happened when GSP loses, but we haven’t seen what happens when Silva does. Personally I think if Silva loses he’s done, I think it’ll crumble his ego and he either won’t be able to, or won’t want to make the climb again.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  • soundspawn says:

    What about when dominant fan-favorite middleweight champion Rich Franklin fell in the first round to the 1-0 UFC fighter and relatively unknown but heavily hyped underdog Anderson Silva? That seemed to pan out okay for them… Am I missing an important detail that would cause you to omit that story?

    Related, does anyone else remember the “lasers” Rogan rant they had on a permanent loop for after that Silva/Leben fight? So silly. Laser precision everyone, laser precision!

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  • soundspawn says:

    Omega I just read your comment again and now I see what was hurting my brain… You’re saying Silva will get an immediate rematch but won’t be able/wanting to make the climb up to a title shot.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  • AlphaOmega says:

    Ya, he’ll get an immediate rematch, both of them will, they showed that after the Penn fight. But I think Silva would lose the rematch too, and then either decide not to, or be unable to, climb back up to the top. I think his ego is just to big right now that it’ll kinda crumble him, kinda like it seemed to with Penn.

    I know I got thumbed down, but honestly I’d love to see GSP (even though I like him), Silva, Jones, and any other dominate champion lose, and not get an immediate rematch, just to see if they could make that climb once again.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  • MCM says:

    @Alpha
    I know they’ll get immediate rematches. Dana has even said so. I’m just working off the idea/hope/dream that they don’t.

    And I agree, I’d love to see if they could make it back to the top, like they did with Liddell and even GSP when he first lost.

    @soundspawn,
    I didn’t include Franklin cause even though he was a fan favorite he was not a long time UFC employee. He took the belt from Tanner in only his 2nd consecutive fight in the UFC. He didn’t have an exclusive contract before that and fought for numerous orgs while fighting for the UFC, so they weren’t nearly as heavily invested in Franklin as they are in GSP and Silva. Ace also only held the title for 17 months before AS took it. GSP and Silva have held their titles for 6 and 7 YEARS respectively.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  • Dufresne says:

    If GSP loses to Hendricks, it will be by way of T/KO and he’ll either have one fight against someone like Condit before getting another shot at the title. If he gets another shot I see him dominating and regaining his belt for a few more years.
    Now what could potentially make that division extremely interesting is if Rory were to get the first shot at the title after GSP’s loss, and wins it. Would GSP fight his protege for the belt or would that finally be the tipping point for GSP to head to MW?

    For Silva, I can actually see Weidman winning one of two ways. 1) he pulls a Sonnen and keeps Silva on his back for 25 min in route to a UD, or 2) he pulls a Sonnen+ where he puts Silva on his back and actually TKO’s him instead of using baby punches to keep from being stood up. Either way you know Silva would be offered an immediate rematch, and I’m going to assume he comes back like a pissed off demon and mauls Weidman to get his belt back. But after he regains his throne I don’t see him sticking around at MW for long. I see him finally agreeing to either fight GSP at MW (assuming Rory has the belt after GSP lost to Hendricks. Yes I’m assuming they’re both losing soley for the purpose of this article), and even though that superfight will have lost a little of it’s luster at that point it would still be the biggest fight in UFC history, or I see him making a move to LHW for an immediate title shot.
    So for the WW division, even if GSP never gets his belt back I don’t think things will change too much if Rory sticks around. The title may bounce between him, Condit, and Hendricks a few times, maybe even to someone I’m not thinking about right now. But overall that division is so stacked with recognizable talents that it’ll still be okay.
    For the MW division, I’m not sure. Silva has been so dominant for so long that I’m not sure there are many names that could carry it in his absence. Sure Vitor could pick it up and run for a bit, and maybe Weidman comes back as the next big thing, but other than those two who’s really got a shot? Unless of course GSP makes his way up, then things get interesting again.

    Good article btw.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • soundspawn says:

    MCM, I see your point but I think there’s more to it than that. Rich was one of the Season 2 TUF coaches (which was a big deal you may recall, they planned on parlaying the success from Griffin/Bonnar and wanted their “biggest names”). Their general company reels were filled with his knock out of Nate Quarry and his goofy twirling uppercut celebration ala Ryu from Street Fighter… It may have only been 17 months but that was huge for them at the time, Rich was everything they hoped for in a MW champ.

    I’ll concede the point that 6/7 years trumps 1.5, but I think we can look to how they reacted then to see exactly how they would react now (if an immediate rematch didn’t happen). AS Also received his title in his 2nd consecutive UFC fight, so in most ways this is apples/apples.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • MCM says:

    First off, I’m in now way trying to diminish Franklins contributions to the UFC and his role in MMA. The man is rightfully HOF bound IMO and he deserves all the praise he gets. But when looking for comparisons, both Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes didn’t qualify because both of them were replaced by dynamic superstars that were able to carry the sport to new heights.
    Do you really think Hendricks is going to be a promotional/marketers dream like GSP? (I’ve seen GSP’s face on air conditioners at the HomeDepot for christ sake.)
    By that token do you think Weidman will be able to capture the sports worlds and sponsors attention with video game like fighting unforeseen in combat sports before?

    Both champs also have the backing of entire countries behind them.
    GSP was Canadian Athlete of the year over Hockey players. HOCKEY players! In Canada!
    Silva is one of the most recognized individuals, not just athletes, in Brazil and was the first MMA star to garner major sponsorship. Canada and Brazil are the two biggest MMA markets outside the US (some say they’re bigger).

    The truth is the UFC has never had anything like a GSP or Anderson Silva before. Liddell had some minor crossover success and BJ was the biggest sports star in his island state, so they fit the comparison best. But even those two HOFers are light years behind GSP and AS as far as mainstream impact on the sport and the UFC is concerned.
    I wrote the article thinking about how the UFC is going to conduct itself in two divisions where everyone can beat everyone on any given night and we haven’t seen any real break out superstars emerge just yet. I think the UFC will recover just fine over time, but the MW and WW landscape will be shaken up for quite awhile until they do.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • AlphaOmega says:

    Will Hendricks be able to be a promotional/marketers dream like GSP? No, GSP is the only fighter to have gatoraide and underarmor isn’t he? Which for the longest time were the two biggest sponsors a fighter could get.

    I don’t think Weidman will be able to either, like you mentioned I think if GSP or Silva loses, it’ll end up like the LHW if both fighters can’t make the climb again, just passing the title around until some young upstart shocks the world again.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • THEGUNNER says:

    Nick diaz started losing and look at hin now. If these two lose they ll be like diaz not trying to fight the new tough guys but fan freindly fights like when couture fought james tony that was funny btw.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Niv says:

    This is a tough article in the sense that we’re speaking of the unknown. GSP and Silva have risen to great heights, in GSP’s case you could see it coming from a mile away, in Silva’s case it was fans of Pride and Cage Rage that knew what the UFC was in for.

    I remember talking with my buddies when we heard Silva was fighting in the UFC and every single one of us said he’s going to own the MW division, and that has obviously taken place.

    Like anything mma is dynamic and stars surface out of nowhere. I think Jon Jones is living proof of how a supreme and dominant champion can come out and dominate a division that was once considered the organizations deepest.

    Rory McDonald may be the next guy at WW, however he really appears to be in need of a personality transplant and I’m not sure how that’ll go? The bottom line is people will find any dominant champion marketable, if he beats them, they’ll (fans and sponsors) come.

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