The Interim title was implemented by the UFC because the current and long reigning WW Champion Georges St. Pierre has had to pull out of two Main Events, in a row, to defend his title. That last time he pulled out of a fight was when he was scheduled to fight Nick Diaz at UFC 143.
This time, when Georges St. Pierre pulled out of the fight, it was because he suffered the worst knee injury possible. He tore his ACL. For many athletes, this is the kiss of death but Georges St. Pierre looks determined to come back and defend his title as soon as he is fully recovered from this injury. Unfortunately, it looks as though he may not be able to come back until the end of the year, around October or November, which is the reason why the UFC implemented the interim title. The whole point of the interim title is to keep the division going while the champion heals.
While it is understandable that a fighter would like to have their next fight against the current reigning champion, the current circumstances just do not allow it. In several recent interviews, Carlos Condit has made it clear that he would like to wait to fight Georges St. Pierre. How the UFC brass is letting this happen is shocking. To have not only the champion sit out due to injury and then to create a second title to only have this person sit out as well makes no sense whatsoever. Of course, you can’t blame Georges St. Pierre because he is injured. However, to have someone literally holding the Interim WW Title for 9 to 10 months and do nothing with it except use it for photo ops is hardly the purpose of putting a second interim title in play.
After watching the three UFC Primetime shows that the UFC used to promote the fight between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz, Carlos made it clear with his own words, “I am a warrior, that’s what I am. I always knew I was,” and “I love to fight, plain and simple, I would do it for free if I couldn’t make a living doing it”. Something clearly does not match up. We all understand that fighters are supposed to hype the fight but there is only so much B.S. one can tolerate before feeling like you are just being lied to in order to get you to buy the fight. He talks a great game but when it comes time to put his money where his mouth is and back up what he says, he would rather sit out for 10 months than defend the Interim Title. This is not what a “Warrior” does and it sure is not what a true champion does either.
This is not the intention of creating the Interim Belt for any weight class. Therefore, if you want to hold a belt up as if you are the champion then you should not be afraid of defending it. It looks like he is looking for one last quick payday before he packs it in.
Anyone who has been around MMA long enough remembers when Chuck Liddell took a fight with Renato Sobral at UFC 40. At the time, Chuck was next in line for the title and stepped aside while Ken Shamrock fought Tito Ortiz. Chuck could have just sat out and played it safe to remain the number one contender but he didn’t. He fought a very tough Sobral and kept his place in line for his title shot. Even before Chuck was the champion, he acted as if he already owned the title. For Chuck, the belt just made it official. This not only made Chuck a great champion but eventually, he would go on to be in the UFC Hall of Fame and, in most fans and fighters’ eyes, a legend of the sport as well.
Sure fighting is a business and no one should ever try to say otherwise; at the same time, allowing an entire division to sit at a standstill and letting the Interim WW Champion do nothing but photo shoots with the belt for 10 months is hardly the definition of how a champion should spend his time defending it.
It is not only disappointing that Carlos wants to sit out for 10 months, it is shocking that the UFC seems to be supporting this decision and allowing it to happen. It would be one thing if it was 5 to 6 months and it was not such a severe injury. That would be more than understandable. However, Georges St. Pierre has missed not one event but two in the last year; you can’t put the division on hold for his return. No one can be certain of his comeback and when it will finally happen. The knee can be a very hard injury to overcome and while Georges St. Pierre is a good bet to come back at close to 100%, nothing is guaranteed.
What people should also keep in mind is that Nick Diaz was the first in line, both times, to fight Georges St. Pierre. Condit was the back up when Nick Diaz missed a couple of press conferences for UFC 137. Nick then went to put on one of the great performances of the year for the Main Event with BJ Penn and was again the first choice to fight Georges St. Pierre at UFC 143. When Georges St. Pierre had to pull out, Nick could just as easily have said I am not going to fight Condit; I will just wait for Georges to get healthy, but he didn’t. He took the fight and took the risk. That is what makes a champion not a belt that goes around your waste.
There is a reason why Carlos has been taking a lot of flak from the MMA world lately. His performance was hardly the stuff of a legend. Yes, he squeezed out a win by judges decision even though he basically avoided mixing it up and literally ran from his opponent throughout the fight. The “fight” went for 25 minutes and Carlos literally ran for over 6 minutes of the fight. We timed it.
This is not how Carlos has fought his fights in the past. In fact, he has had some amazing fights where he showed a lot of heart and won over many fans that support him to this day. His fight against Rory MacDonald at UFC 115 was one of the best fights of the year. He was losing the fight up until the last few seconds of the 3rd round where he managed to pull out a dramatic win in the last ten seconds of the final round. He has shown he has what it takes to be a real champion so it’s quite disappointing that he looked like more of a champion before he won the title than when he does having officially won the Interim WW title.
No one can blame him for trying to win a fight and have a game plan to defeat an opponent but at the same time, that game plan must be one of actively engaging his opponent. He has the skills, willpower, athleticism and heart to fight and defeat anyone in the division. He just needs to believe it and fight like it and prove to everyone that he is the champion and not some guy who clings onto the title and plays it safe.
To this day, people still call Hagler vs Hearns the best 3 rounds in boxing history. No one cares that Hearns lost the fight. No one thinks less of him as a fighter. He gave his all and he came up short. It happens to every great fighter that fights another great fighter. There is no shame in losing if you gave it your best. Playing it safe may get you a couple extra W’s in the win column but laying it all on the line and fighting your best fight, every fight, will mean a lot more to fans than playing it safe and trying to edge out a close and usually disputed decision.That fight between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz at UFC 143 could have gone down as MMA’s version of Hagler vs Hearns but instead Carlos won by what many MMA fans feel a controversial decision. There may be a case made where he out pointed Nick Diaz, but there is no way that he out fought Nick Diaz to win that bout. And now that Carlos is the Interim Champion, he is refusing to defend his title while the real champion of the division is injured. Not exactly the stuff of legends, Hall of Famers or Champions.