Tonight all eyes in the mixed martial arts world will be on FOX (7 p.m. central), as The UFC puts on a stacked card in Sacramento, California. Topping the card will be four members of the locally based Team Alpha Male, including flyweight title challenger Joe Benavidez, perennial bantamweight contender Uriah Faber, and former featherweight challenger Chad Mendez.
Listen to Richard Hunter talk with Chad Mendez about his fight tonight with Nik Lentz:
Yesterday, however, the build up to the event was temporarily overshadowed by a somewhat surprising announcement that reigning welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre would be vacating his title and in his words “taking some time away” in the form of an indefinite absence from the sport.
A hastily arranged conference call with St. Pierre and UFC president Dana White was scheduled to make the announcement, and on that call the future hall of famer basically echoed what he said in the cage last month following a controversial decision victory over Dallas resident Jonny Hendricks at UFC 167. While those of us in the media who were in attendance that night at the post fight press conference were not completely surprised by yesterday’s news, there had been mixed signals since then that had at least suggested that St. Pierre might continue to fight.
Listen to Richard Hunter ask Dana White about what he believed to be St. Pierre’s plans prior to his announcement:
After initially criticizing the champion for his post fight comments indicating a desire to take a hiatus, White met with St. Pierre privately and returned to face the media that same night where he told us that he was “feeling much better about the situation” and that the personal problems that GSP was eluding to were “not nearly as big of a deal as he was perceiving them to be”.
That being said, yesterday White acknowledged that those personal issues were “driving him (St. Pierre) crazy” and that he had resigned himself to the fact that Georges would need time away to deal with them so as to be able to one day return to competition with a clear head.
The UFC may have at least temporarily lost its’ biggest pay per view draw, but they won’t need him tonight as Sacramento hosts a nationally televised event that is arguably worthy of pay per view status. Lucky for the fans, it’s free on FOX.
Follow me on Twitter, as I will be live tweeting cage side from tonight’s UFC On FOX 9 card in Sacramento, California.
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