Georges St. Pierre’s dominance has backed the UFC into a corner. The welterweight champion scored another unanimous decision victory on Saturday night, getting the better of Jake Shields despite only being able to see out of one eye for more than half of the fight.
While he keeps piling up the wins, St. Pierre’s string of decisions isn’t winning over the fans. In fact, every fight that doesn’t end with a finish makes the next St. Pierre title defence a more difficult sell; when a five-round jabfest is a foregone conclusion, how do you attract an audience?
A meeting with Nick Diaz is the only answer that makes sense.
The Strikeforce welterweight champion is facing the same challenge in terms of competition, having exhausted his options in Zuffa’s other MMA organization.
Unhappy with the situation, Diaz has spoken openly about either pursuing his options as a professional boxer or being given the chance to challenge St. Pierre. Since I don’t see Dana White allowing Diaz to step into the boxing ring, a shift to the UFC Octagon is all that remains.
Should that transpire, a fight with St. Pierre is a given, as Diaz is the perfect counter to the French-Canadian champion both inside and outside the cage.
While St. Pierre is calculated and rehearsed in front of the camera, Diaz is unscripted and unfiltered, dispensing the truth as he sees it. There are no pauses to find the proper words or public relations personnel coaching him off-camera; it’s all Diaz, and his willingness to shoot from the hip has made him a cult hero with MMA fans.
So too have his recent string of exciting performances inside the cage.
Where St. Pierre follows a hand-crafted strategy for each fight based on countless hours of film study and exploiting the weaknesses of his opponents, Diaz is far less complex.
His game plan is simple: Diaz is going in there to kick your ass.
On top of that, the Strikeforce champion seems to enjoy the road less travelled too, choosing to strike wth strikers when bringing the fight to the floor would probably be easier.
Employing that strategy has produced a couple of close calls over the last two years, but it has also yielded a string of highly entertaining fights that have propelled Diaz into the pound-for-pound discussion and to the brink of becoming a superstar.
Diaz isn’t going to get caught up in the aura of St. Pierre or backdown from the challenge of defeating the UFC welterweight champion. He will step forward behind his long jab and looping hooks, taking two to give one until he can up his output when it really counts. That is the kind of challenge St. Pierre needs at this stage in his career, and the only type of opponent fans want to see opposite GSP in the future.
In many ways, Diaz is the anti-GSP and pairing the two inside the cage might be the only way to get fans interested in the watching the UFC welterweight champion fight again.
After a string of decisions and the same canned answers in every interview, fans are tired of the clean cut, Clark Kent act St. Pierre delivers. At the very least, they’re ready for a new charismatic supervillain to step on the scene and really challenge Superman, and Diaz is their villain of choice.
White has made his admiration of Diaz quite clear, and stated numerous times this past weekend that a trip to Stockton to sit down with the bad boy of the 170-pound ranks is on his calendar. With so few options available right now, if White comes away from the meeting satisfied in Diaz’s willingness to “play the game” even a little, we could see him return to the UFC in the very near future.
If that happens, so too will a fight with St. Pierre; the fans want it, the media wants it, and Diaz himself wants it. At this point, I’d even wager a guess that White wants it too.
This is the only fight that makes sense for St. Pierre at this time and Diaz is the only opponent who can help sell another GSP main event to an audience growing increasingly disinterested in watching the welterweight champion compete.
Honestly, I’d be shocked if it doesn’t happen before January.