Yesterday we found outthat ex-UFC Welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre tore his left ACL in training and any return to the Octagon will be delayed while he recovers from surgery. GSP renounced his title following a controversial split decision win over current-champ Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
Since then he and the UFC have been engaged in a bit of a back-and-forth over drug testing with the implications being that he was using his leverage as a pay-per-view draw to get concessions from the organization. Following the news of GSP's injury, Dana White spoke to the LA Times:
UFC President Dana White said the injury is "terrible" for St-Pierre. "I feel for him."
White said he thought St-Pierre's planned layoff was going to be short, although the injury changes that time frame.
"I didn't think his hiatus was going to be that long," White said. "That's one of the risks you run when you get away from the sport like that. You have a small window as a professional athlete to make what you can. The guy gave up his belt, walked away from the sport, and now he's out for who knows how long ... last time he had this injury, it was 14 months."
Zach Arnold has some commentary on what GSP's ACL tear means for the not-quite-negotiations between the UFC and GSP:
Everything this week was on GSP's side in terms of enforcing the right kinds of conditions for a return to the UFC. All the momentum and leverage on his side. Nobody in the company right now can draw 600,000+ PPV buys on their own. Chris Weidman can't. Johny Hendricks can't. Ronda Rousey can't. Jon Jones can't. As a collective group effort with multiple big fights on one card, perhaps UFC could come close. But right now, no singular fighter other than Brock Lesnar can deliver on PPV for UFC like St. Pierre.
And GSP's stick-and-carrot approach, as my radio co-host Jeff Thaler discussed with me earlier in the week, was clearly working... on paper. St. Pierre has been publicly talking tough about drug usage in MMA and forced the UFC to play defense big time on the matter. Pushing Lorenzo Fertitta to say publicly that he would support VADA-style drug testing without Dr. Margaret Goodman's involvement is one of those moments where even UFC's denial still, in essence, validates the work she has done to push momentum forward in increasing drug testing protocols in combat sports. The carrot, from GSP, was the idea of a superfight with Anderson Silva or perhaps even a rematch against Johny Hendricks.
But now that GSP has blown out another ACL, any leverage he had has vanished and will require significant work to accumulate once again. The UFC may be celebrating this development but that celebration is Pyrrhic in nature because St. Pierre is still the best PPV draw they have access to booking.
Time will tell how it all shakes out, in the meantime, here's wishing GSP a speedy recovery.