Once upon a time, a British fighter named Dan Hardy became an unlikely challenger for the welterweight title. Champion Georges St-Pierre dispatched him by dominant decision and after an uneven run in the aftermath, Hardy was forced to step aside from the sport due to a medical condition. He is still one of the most well-spoken and intelligent guys in the game though, so his opinion holds some weight.
In a recent interview with Fight Now TV, he sounded off on GSP's recent controversial win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 and his subsequent leave of absence from the sport. Here's what he had to say (transcribed by David St. Martin of MMA Fighting):
"I think it left the whole division and the whole situation kind of awkward," says Hardy. "A lot of people weren't happy with the decision. A lot of people don't feel GSP's in a situation right now where he can just step away from the sport because there are a lot of questions left unanswered.
The only thing I'm uncomfortable with is the way it was finished, the way it came to an end. I watched the press conference and, for me, the best thing to do would have been for Georges to walk out, hand Johny Hendricks the belt and say, 'I'm done for a while, when I want the belt back I'll come and get it.' Just left it at that."
On the other side of the coin, he does think that Hendricks could have put forth more of an effort to secure the title:
"[Hendricks] said after the fight that he was only throwing with 70% of his power. I understand it, it was a smart, tactical thing to do, but once you pass the first two or three rounds, and he's still there, you've got to go get the belt. You've got to go take it.
Overall though, he had Hendricks winning:
"I think [St-Pierre] lost the fight. I think he retained his belt, but I think he lost the fight."
He also said he understands why GSP needed a break:
"If he's taking time to step away from the sport, he needs it. There's a reason for it. We don't really want to see Georges St-Pierre compete at anything other than 100%. He's not the champion if he's not 100%. We need to see him at his best. If there's something outside the sport that's affecting him we're not going to see his best in the sport. If he says it's time to step away then he should.
"I just feel like it would have been the right thing to do for the sport, for his brand, to [say], 'There you go. I don't feel like I earned the belt tonight. I'll come back and get it when I do.' Then if he does come out of retirement and get the belt, imagine how people would view him. Best champion of all time."