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Midnight Mania! Which is harder- defending one belt or winning two? Georges St. Pierre explains

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UFC 217: Bisping v St-Pierre Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Who would have guessed, a few years ago, that we would get so many superfights, we would be wishing for a regular champion who was content to just defend his belt in his own division? Yet, for some fans, that is now the situation the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the trend-setting Conor McGregor have put us in. It’s a welcome problem to have. In the past few years, we have been treated to Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, Georges St. Pierre vs. Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic, and currently on the schedule we have TJ Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo (with TJ fighting down a weight class, in a bizarre twist) and Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes. This is in many ways a great change, as these fights have, so far, been a lot of fun, but the danger is that the promotion threatens to further devalue belts already cheapened with interminable interim title bouts. No fighter has yet managed to win and defend two separate belts, meaning that they are, in effect, vacating one division for the next.

Max Holloway is a perfect example. He just defended his featherweight title in one of the greatest performances the 145-lb. division has ever seen, and was immediately inundated with questions about facing Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, or Conor McGregor, all fights that would take place a division up at lightweight. While a champion taking non-title fights a division up could be fun — who wouldn’t watch Max rematch McGregor, after all — it seems unnecessary when lightweight is so stacked, and featherweight already has more than one rising prospect booked to determine the next top contender.

There was also the question raised, when discussing Max’s potential legacy at featherweight: which counts for more, defending the title many times in a row, as Jose Aldo did, or vaulting up a weight class to claim a second title, like Conor McGregor? Which adds more to the legacy of a fighter?

As one of only five men to hold UFC titles across two weight divisions, as well as one of the longest-running champions in UFC history, Georges St. Pierre is uniquely suited to answer the question: which is a more difficult feat? GSP thinks that defending a belt over a long period of time is more difficult, and he explained why.

I think taking contenders is the hardest thing, and I’m gonna tell you why. Because when you are the champion, you are the target. Everybody is looking at you, everybody is studying your game. So, everything you do, everybody has seen it before. When you are coming as a contender- you’re the contender, you’re challenging the champion- it’s like the guy is looking at you for maybe a few months... which, when you’re champion, people are studying your game every day of your reign. Every guy that come up, their dream is to beat you. So they know your game, sometime better than you know yourself. So, for that reason, its a different perspective.

Is George St. Pierre right? If he is right, should the more difficult feat- defending the title over and over- count for more in terms of a champion’s legacy than winning a second belt in another weight class?


Which is more impressive a feat?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Defending a belt for a long time
    (1416 votes)
  • 8%
    Winning a second title
    (127 votes)
1543 votes total Vote Now


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