It doesn’t take an expert with approximately 30-years of experience to read the direction of the wind in the sport of mixed martial arts. With champions crafted and narratives created in the combat sports entertainment industry virtually all of the time, by observation and critical thinking skills alone one can easily deduce what future plot the promoters are attempting to push next in their latest scheme to separate the public from their hard-earned dollars. And with UFC president Dana White as the long time face of the promotion, one simply has to listen to the next colorful storyline pitched at the podium to understand which direction the company is attempting to head into next.
“Georges St-Pierre walked away from the UFC twice, so he knows why the promotion is having such a difficult time letting go of Khabib Nurmagomedov,” writes author Alexander K. Lee in his March 18, 2021 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Georges St. Pierre: UFC doesn’t want Khabib Nurmagomadov to leave on his own terms – ‘they want a guy to beat him.’
According to the report, “Nurmagomedov announced his retirement in October following a second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254. With that victory, Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title for a third consecutive time and improved his pro record to a flawless 29-0. He cited the passing of his father and longtime coach Abdulmanap and a promise he made to his mother as motivating factors for his decision to hang up his gloves at the age of 32.”
“Despite having a good relationship with White,” reports MMAFighting.com, “St-Pierre’s career choices have led to tension between the two in the past. They’ve even butted heads over who’s to blame for a potential superfight between St-Pierre and Nurmagomedov falling through. St-Pierre understands the game the UFC is playing, and he likes how Nurmagomedov has responded."
Prior to Nurmagomedov’s last outting against Gaethje, the UFC had promised the lightweight champion “something special” was in the works.
Widely speculated to be a superfight against UFC legend Georges St. Pierre, Nurmagomedov’s abrupt retirement following his second-round submission victory over Gaethje came to few as a surprise considering how the business side mixed martial arts works. With the pieces on the board clearly lining up in the Dagestani fighters favor, the retirement of Nurmagomedov was in many ways a strategic business decision from the Nurmagomedov camp in order to secure the best possible terms for his team moving forward in their relationship with the UFC.
St-Pierre, a former perennial UFC welterweight champion who managed to come out of retirement to capture the UFC middleweight title, is looking to become the promotions first three-division champion by securing Nurmagomedov’s 155-pound championship title. With talk of a possible 165-pound catchweight fight openly discussed in the media between the two athletes, the prospect of an additional title to either man’s resume is no doubt going to be an auxiliary selling point by the promotion as the negotiations appear to be on going.
Perhaps the most popular star on the UFC roster today and the naturally bigger man, St- Pierre is the promotions first choice to dethrone Nurmagomedov in attempting to craft their next money-making narrative in capitalizing on the Canadian superstars still impressive drawing power moving forward in the promotions global vision of the future. Unlikely to make the same mistake again, the UFC is likely looking for assurances from both fighters that they won’t exit stage left on their own terms once again should they emerge victorious from the proposed superfight. Decades of experience watching mixed martial arts grow completely unnecessary to see the promotions refusal to strip the retired Nurmagomedov of his UFC lightweight title guaranteeing the next chapter in the promotions saga is all but written.