Time and Tide Wait for No Man in the UFC Welterweight Division After “The Ultimate Fighter” finale

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One of the downsides of having a champion who can’t compete because of an injury, and an interim title holder waiting for him to get healthy, is that the entire division ends up being on hold until the title situation resolves itself. Whether or not Georges St. Pierre is healthy enough to resume defense of his title this fall, or if Carlos Condit is to begin defending an interim title until then, the UFC welterweight division is now in a state of flux because of it.

And the winner of Friday’s main event, Martin Kampmann, is now suffering in part because of the lack of direction the division has due to GSP’s injury and Condit’s desire to wait for him.

Coming off the “Ultimate Fighter” finale, Kampmann, headlined an FX event that would normally have some significance. With a remarkable comeback victory over Jake Ellenberger, with a spectacular knee knockout, Kampmann going into a title fight sometime this year gives him intrigue. With his ability to comeback and take punishment, as well as his ability to dole it out, he’s a handful for anyone in the division. With Jonny Hendricks in the wings, as well, having a summer title defense would’ve made sense. With GSP out, by all rights Hendricks should be first in line to challenge Condit for the interim welterweight title. It’s easy to make a case for Kampmann but Hendricks has done a pair of things he hasn’t.

Knock out Jon Fitch and earn a decision over Josh Koscheck, perennial top contenders in the division.

Defeating Fitch and Koscheck is something only one other man has done (GSP) and that gives him a legitimate claim to a title shot at this point. Kampmann would naturally be in line, awaiting the winner, after his victory tonight for the next shot. Unfortunately he’ll most likely have one more fight instead of waiting to challenge the welterweight title holder. Why?

Because we don’t know who’s going to be in the welterweight title fight that’s going to happen by the end of 2012.

The problem is that with Condit desiring GSP, and GSP only, to settle just who ought to wear the welterweight UFC championship belt properly both Jonny Hendricks and Kampmann are most likely going to be matched up because Condit is choosing to wait it out for the much higher profile (and higher payday) of stepping into a cage with Georges St, Pierre. You can’t blame him for that decision, either, as facing GSP most likely would make him more money than he would with a fight against either Hendricks or Kampmann.

Condit also “stepped aside” for Nick Diaz at the UFC’s request once already, of course, and defeated Diaz when GSP’s knee injury was revealed for the interim belt. His choice to wait, instead of being a fighting interim champion, is frustrating as a fan but understandable. At this point, for all he’s gone through, Condit’s decision to wait makes perfect sense from his perspective. He was promised a title shot in lieu of stepping aside and now he’s going to hold out until he can step into a cage with GSP this fall. Unless GSP can’t make that timeframe it’s a good decision on his part; he can wait until he knows for sure whether or not GSP is ready for a fight in Montreal in November as opposed to risk losing the guaranteed title shot owning an interim title provides by taking a fight until he knows for sure.

It’s just that Condit’s decision to wait is holding up the division from its normal progression.

And for Kampmann that means one more fight, most likely, before a potential title shot instead of getting first dibs on the winner of Condit/GSP. Kampmann vs. Hendricks is most likely going to be set up, if only to keep both men busy and give us a #1 contender for this fall’s most likely title fight. In the case GSP is unable to meet what he’s targeted as a November return, Kampmann is stuck waiting for the winner of Condit/Hendricks and a layoff of perhaps a year until he can make his challenge if he chooses to wait.

Either that or he’ll be taking a fight in the meantime and risk losing a title shot with a defeat in the ring or an injury outside of competition forcing him to step aside while it heals. That would be convenient for the UFC, as whomever defeats Kampmann would then be waiting in line for this all to sort out, but it’s inconvenient as a fan. We want to see champions defend their titles regularly, even those with the interim tag, and Kampmann is now stuck waiting for everything to play itself out. Time and tide wait for no man, perhaps, but for the UFC welterweight title Kampmann has only that: time.

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