Although Georges St-Pierre vacated his UFC middleweight title soon after earning it due to health issues, the French-Canadian fighter now claims to be feeling “much better,” further teasing his potential return to the sport.
In an interview earlier this month, St-Pierre dismissed names from the conversation, including like Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz (even Conor McGregor to a certain extent), citing legacy – not money – as his reason for wanting to return. But with “legacy” being a word that can mean a few different things, I believe that the former welterweight kingpin is ultimately looking to keep his options open moving forward.
With that in mind, I decided to take a shot at decoding St-Pierre’s intentions by putting together a list of his possible targets, as well as some projections on how those matchups could look.
Possible opponent No. 1: Ben Askren
Record: 18-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC>
Why it could happen: Despite Ben Askren’s shaky history with UFC President Dana White (something that both Askren and St-Pierre acknowledge as being a hurdle), both the UFC and White have a long history of crossing – and even repairing bridges – in the name of business.
Now, would Askren be good business?
Well, Askren, among others, seem to think so, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only would it appease hardcore fans who have followed each of their careers, but you also have the perfect storm to bring something big to Canada, a market that the company has needed to reignite since St-Pierre’s initial heyday came to a close.
Furthermore, I believe that having a proper dance partner may help St-Pierre’s already-reliable PPV numbers in an unsuspecting but familiar way.
Similar to Chael Sonnen’s approach toward his first fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, is Askren’s opportunity here. Askren, the two-time NCAA Division I national-champion wrestler, may not have the most appealing style to the casual fan, but the undefeated fighter does have the unabashed confidence to market this match with his intentions to spoil St-Pierre’s party in front of his home country – something that I see selling plenty.
Initial thoughts: Considering the crux of each fighter’s game, this matchup automatically becomes one of the more intriguing ones to break down.
Although St-Pierre surprised many by returning from a four-year layoff with layered improvements, his game ultimately hinges on his ability to wrestle and hit transitions, which just so happens to be Askren’s strongpoint.
That said, Askren is not your average wrestler.
One of only two wrestlers to earn the Dan Hodge Trophy twice, Askren’s road has been an interesting one. As the nickname “Funky” would suggest, Askren developed his brand of funk-style out of necessity to stay afloat with what he felt were more athletic wrestlers. He made it to the finals twice as a freshman and sophomore, but lost twice to the same wrestler: Chris Pendleton.
After that, Askren made a switch from folk-style to freestyle wrestling, a category that carried a rule set that was much kinder to his funky stylings. Even then, you could see the natural aptitude for grappling as Askren was already utilizing positions like 50-50 leg entanglements to reverse or steer opposition, sometimes earning pins out of his efforts. Finishing his collegiate career on an 87-match winning streak, Askren eventually took that momentum into the world of MMA.
Although we saw Askren’s striking improve only in small increments and sample sizes throughout most of his MMA career, the Olympian proved time and time again that he didn’t need to strike for long. Whether he’s hitting reactive shots, offensive shots, or even exercising his options inside of the clinch, the nine-year pro has proven he has a multitude of options at his disposal.
However, with Askren’s lone criticism being his lack of top-level competition, it can be hard to forecast his chances in grounding St-Pierre.
Despite my suspicions of it being a tall task in the early going, things could start to get interesting if Askren can get St-Pierre to grapple. A sticky scrambler, Askren could make things difficult even if St-Pierre is the one who initially achieves the dominant spots. And if Askren is the one who finds himself in top position, then we will likely see his patent wrist-rides and positional floats, possibly putting St-Pierre in places we haven’t seen him before.
That said, St-Pierre has had benchmark performances whenever he’s faced superior on-paper wrestlers such as Frank Trigg, Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes. Askren may be more accoladed collegiately as a wrestler, but he’ll have more ground to cover as a mixed martial artist should St-Pierre – an excellent defensive wrestler – be able to shut down the American’s takedowns.
Expected line: St-Pierre -255, Askren +210. Although you could argue that these odds could open a bit wider, I believe that the popularity of St-Pierre alone would drive up the prices, forcing public action on each side all the way up till fight night. Ultimately, I see St-Pierre opening and closing as the deserved favorite.
Source : https://mmajunkie.com/2018/03/georges-st-pierre-possible-ufc-opponents-conor-mcgregor-khabib-nurmagomedov-tony-ferguson-ben-askrenThanks you for read my article Georges St Pierre Expected To Return For Huge Fight, Conor McGregor An Option