There’s no question that a ton of fans wanted to see Johny Hendricks and Georges St. Pierre battle again, and that with the latter stepping away the UFC has lost one of it’s biggest draws, but one could argue it’s not all bad news.
Case in point, look what’s riding on the March 15th scrap between Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley now as a result? Before GSP vacated the title, would Condit be fighting for another shot at the belt this soon? Probably not.
One man who respects the decision of GSP, but believes it’s opened the door to some exciting possibilities is Tarec Saffiedine. Recently the former Strikeforce champ had this to say about St. Pierre’s departure while speaking to MMA Fighting.com.
“He has nothing else to prove,” Saffiedine said. “He’s the champion for so long, he’s at the top. I understand that he needs to some time off, I guess, for whatever reason he claims. He was a great champion and now it’s going to be even more exciting for the welterweight division, for all the guys that want that belt.”
But will St. Pierre still be an elite fighter? If and when he returns to the Octagon? While discussing the former champ’s future Saffiedine noted:
“I think when you’re in that position and want to take some time off and come back is hard, but I don’t know time will tell,” he said. “I’ve been a big fan of Georges for a long time, he has the same type of background that I have as far as martial arts, and he’s French too. I think that, for the French community, a fight between us would’ve been great.”
Speaking of time off, Saffiedine is getting set for his UFC debut, which will go down January 4th in Singapore versus Hyun Gyu Lim. By the time Saffiedine steps into the Octagon, nearly a year will have gone by since he defeated Marquardt for the Strikeforce title last January. The Belgian fighter was sidelined for much of 2013 afterwards due to injuries.
It will be interesting to see how the talented striker performs, and whether Saffiedine can have an impact on the UFC’s 170 pound division in the coming months.