2017: Year of the Least Anticipated UFC Title Fights
Demetrious Johnson had a chance to truly make a name for himself; to really cement his status as the pound-for-pound great many claim that he is. All he had to do was accept a legitimate challenge, which was presented to him in the form of TJ Dillashaw. He turned that down, saying Dillashaw had not earned a title shot at 125 pounds. Instead, Johnson wanted to fight Ray Borg, who he believed has earned a shot at his gold by building only a two-fight winning streak.
Many believe “Mighty Mouse” just wants an easy matchup to get another victory and ultimately break Anderson Silva’s record for most title defenses, for which they are currently tied at 10. It is hard to respect the choices he makes, and it would be tougher to acknowledge him as a pound-for-pound great, or G.O.A.T., knowing he hand-picked an easy road for himself.
If and when Johnson defeats Borg to break the record, some won’t recognize him for that, but instead for being the fast-talking little guy who refused the one fight they had any interest in seeing him in. It’s certainly a gamble the champ is taking, risking money, fans and his relationship with the promotion for an easier (albeit lesser) payday and a new world record. As an outsider, it’s not easy to respect that, because instead of getting a fight we couldn’t wait for, we are getting one we couldn’t care less for.
The good news is that GSP is back. The bad news is that he’s in a matchup hardly anybody cares about.
Georges St. Pierre is returning from half a decade of retirement to move up to the middleweight division to take on UFC 185-pound champion Michael Bisping. He had the option to compete for the welterweight title -- which he used to wear around his waist -- or the middleweight title. Many believe he went with who he felt would be the easier matchup, and ultimately, the easier payday.
Should the French-Canadian walk away with a victory over Bisping at UFC 217 in New York City, many believe that he will refuse to defend the belt against any legitimate contenders in the UFC’s middleweight division. Much like the situation with Johnson, these are choices that are not easy for an outsider to respect.
Johnson vs. Borg and Bisping vs. St. Pierre are two title fights that the vast majority of fight fans are zero to little interest in. Many, myself included, would prefer to see these two fights on Fight Pass, rather than headline a Pay-Per-View.