5 YRS AGO – PENICK: Georges St-Pierre’s latest injury a massive blow to UFC, though Diaz-Condit matchup a silver lining

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

George St. Pierre (photo by Jason Silva © USA Today Sports)

Five years ago today, news broke that George St. Pierre suffered an ACL injury and would miss about ten months of action. The following is Jamie Penick’s editorial putting the big news in perspective…

The UFC just cannot catch a break when it comes to some of their top fights over the last year, as they’ve lost another major fight for UFC 143 with Georges St-Pierre suffering another knee injury.

It’s the second event St-Pierre has had to pull out of in just a few month’s time, as he was forced out of his fight with Condit at UFC 137 due to a previous knee and hamstring injury. Now, he’s blown out his ACL and is out of his fight with Nick Diaz, as well as being on the shelf for 10 months, according to UFC President Dana White.

It continues the absolute mess that has become the top of the welterweight division in the last few months. First Diaz was brought in for the title fight with St-Pierre at UFC 137, then he was pulled from the fight for failing to make press obligations for the event and replaced with Condit. When St-Pierre pulled out, Condit was removed from the card to face him in 2012 and Diaz’s re-booked fight with B.J. Penn took the UFC 137 main event slot. Then Diaz demolished Penn, drew the ire of St-Pierre, and took the title shot back from Condit. Condit then booked a fight with Josh Koscheck for the UFC 143 event, only for this to happen and him once again finding his way into a title fight.

If there’s a silver lining to this news, it may be that the Diaz-Condit fight is almost assuredly going to be one of the more entertaining title fights the UFC can put on in 2012. Condit is a vicious striker with an underrated ground game, while Diaz has developed into an overwhelming puncher who can wear down his opponents while taking their best shots and continuing on. With similarly exciting styles, Diaz and Condit are going to do everything they can through a five round fight to put gold around their waist and make sure they’re the next person to fight St-Pierre when he returns.

Still, while the prospects of that fight are immensely exciting, this is a horrible turn for the UFC, and for the Welterweight Champion. The organization has struggled on the pay-per-view front in 2011 after record setting years in 2009 and 2010, and the loss of their top two pay-per-view draws from scheduled events didn’t help.

St-Pierre did headline the biggest live event the UFC has ever done at UFC 129, in front of 55,000 fans in Toronto, but that event failed to reach the million buy mark, and the UFC hasn’t hit that peak once in 2011. Losing Brock Lesnar from UFC 131 and St-Pierre from UFC 137 was a big reason for that, but they’re again going to have another major event that takes a big hit in buyrate because of this loss.

The good news for the UFC is the change happened two months out instead of a few weeks as was the case with UFC 137, allowing them more time to sell this matchup for the card. Considering Diaz’s performance against B.J. Penn, fans may be more inclined to tune in for his next fight, but the loss of St-Pierre likely will mean a very significant hit to the number this card can hit on February 4 in Las Vegas.

For St-Pierre himself, another knee injury is horrible news. Recovering from one knee injury has taken him out of a big fight, and now being out 10 more months will mean a significant chunk of his prime years as a fighter will see him on the sidelines. And then you have to wonder how well he’ll be able to recover from something as severe as a blown ACL, and whether or not that will have a continued effect on his performance in the cage moving forward. For a fighter that may just be the best we’ve seen yet in the sport, that’s a seriously disappointing and depressing thing to think about.

Will fans be robbed of seeing St-Pierre reach another level of greatness because of injuries? Will this be something that he has to continue to deal with the rest of his career, as can often be the case with injuries of this type?

Those are concerns going forward for not only St-Pierre and his fans, but for the UFC as well as one of their top pay-per-view draws may never be the same again.

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