LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The confusion at the top of the UFC welterweight division just took another turn yesterday. The UFC just announced that longtime division champion Georges St-Pierre, who was forced out of his return to the Octagon 10 days before he was set to defend his title in October, will now be sidelined for the next 10 months as he rehabilitates a torn ACL in his knee.
This means St-Pierre, who has not fought since defeating Jake Shields in April, will be out of action until next fall. This created a big problem for the UFC bosses. Now that the UFC is putting on multiple shows a month with a new head of steam, thanks to their new 7-year broadcasting deal with Fox, there was no way they were willing to wait and keep the UFC's 170-pound title inactive for a year and a half.
That is why they decided to put a UFC Interim Welterweight Title on the line in the main event of UFC 143, which goes down on Saturday, February 4, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Interestingly, the two men set to clash for this belt were the last two men scheduled to fight St-Pierre. The main event of UFC 137 in October was originally set to have St-Pierre defend his title against former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. Then in September, after Diaz failed to attend press conferences to promote the fight, he was replaced with former WEC champion Carlos Condit. However, St-Pierre's injury 10 days prior to the bout, scrapped that fight all together. In its place as main event of UFC 137, Diaz defeated former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion B.J. Penn.
Diaz's decisive win over a former two-division champion, saw him leap frog back into a title shot position against St-Pierre at UFC 143 in February. However, that will now have to wait again due to St-Pierre's latest injury woes. In its place, Diaz will now fittingly fight Condit, the man who has been equally eager to finally get a crack at the UFC's presitigous 170-pound title.
The backstory to this bout alone is enough to make any fight fans flock to Las Vegas on Super Bowl weekend, but the fact that the UFC has made this a 5-round interim welterweight title fight will make this bout in many ways even more interesting than a fight pitting one of them against the always predictable St-Pierre. Where St-Pierre has the "just win" approach to his fights, where he will jab or wrestle his way to victory, Diaz and Condit have utilized a more "take no prisoner" approach to their wins. The fact that they both possess some of the most explosive striking and submission skills in the sport has only intensified that mindset.
This is also pitting champions from two other organizations, who never lost their titles in the cage. Both Diaz (Strikeforce champion) and Condit (WEC champion) relinquished their titles, after they were added to the UFC roster, once their respective former organizations were acquired by the UFC's parent company Zuffa. This bout will also decide who the true #1 contender in the sport is at 170-pounds. While both men have been given title shots in the past two months, neither have been able to actually fight for the title. So until St-Pierre is healthy and ready to fight again, a new UFC interim champion will be crowned on February 4th, 2012.