Hopes of a UFC return for Georges St-Pierre later this year have been dashed after it was revealed that the former UFC Welterweight champion is to undergo a second ACL surgery.
MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani revealed that the Canadian is due to undergo surgery in Los Angeles next week, with the procedure being carried out by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who also carried out GSP's first ACL surgery.
St-Pierre suffered the left knee injury in training last week and it comes as a blow to both his and Dana White's plans to bring him back into the fold for a superfight with Anderson Silva or rematch with current champion, Johny Hendricks.
GSP told the media shortly after his close win over Hendricks at UFC 167 he was going to vacate his title and take a hiatus from the UFC, saying he wasn't sure when he'd return but UFC president, White, said he thought it wouldn't be long before he returned.
That's changed however and with his previous ACL injury in 2011 sidelining St-Pierre for 14 months, it's a huge blow to the sport as St-Pierre remains the companies biggest draw ever since Brock Lesnar retired.
It was announced by the recently crowned champ, Hendricks that he would be fit to fight again in September and rumours were abound that White and the UFC would make a play to bring back St-Pierre for the big money fight.
The timetable for GSP's recovery is unclear and with how long it took him to recovery last time, any return at all might be ruled out. Either way, it's clear that 2014 won't see the return of the UFC's golden goose - which is a help and hindrance for both parties according to FightOpinion's Zach Arnold:
"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."
"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. Right now, no singular fighter other than Brock Lesnar can deliver on PPV for UFC like St. Pierre."
"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."
With that said it does look like 2014 will be a down year for the UFC in terms of numbers unless a new star can emerge in the coming months. With the likes of St-Pierre and Silva on the sidelines they're missing two of their biggest draws and the lack of healthy competition in the welterweight division ruins one of their moneymakers.
It would seem that light heavyweight clashes between champion Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier will have to draw the big buys. That or the UFC starts courting Brock Lesnar again, which with his part-time WWE contract may allow for him to fight again.
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