Nick Diaz is the enigma of the moment. Why, you ask? Well, despite losing his last fight, coming off his second failed drug test suspension, no-showing press obligations, making an uncomfortable spectacle of the one conference call he actually decided to attend, and hurling accusations of steroid use towards his opponent, Diaz is fighting Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight championship of the world on Saturday night.
Johny Hendricks is the rightful contender, but the economics of it all puts Diaz in the driver’s seat. Personally, I’d rather see St. Pierre vs. Diaz instead of St. Pierre vs. Hendricks. The Hendricks fight would presumably be more competitive, but why vote for the undeserving party? In this particular case, spectacle outweighs sport for me. If Major League Baseball could find a roundabout way to have the Cubs vs. Yankees in the World Series with their reputation coming out unscathed, they would do it in a heartbeat.
It’s almost an afterthought that one of the greatest fighters of our time in GSP is actually involved in this scenario. However, with verbal gems from Diaz such as “If anything, I’m like the superhero coming in with the anti-bullshit. Gimme a fuckin’ break.”, it’s not hard to understand why.
If you ignore all of the shenanigans outside of the cage, this fight bears some real fruit. Nick Diaz’s pitter-patter punches look weak but are designed to, and actually do, cause maximum damage over time. This has been the case for his entire career, but yet people still dismiss his punching power and pay for it in spades. Diaz is very active off his back and often goes for submissions when the situation arrives.
Diaz’s Strikeforce resumé consists of victories over opponents who posed no threat in the wrestling department, which is his Achille’s heel. In the UFC, BJ Penn had no answer for the Nick Diaz puzzle, and Carlos Condit is not the takedown type. On top of it all, the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt has cardio for days and can take an ungodly amount of punishment.
No one game plans better than Georges St. Pierre. He solves every problem and answers every question with superior athleticism and exquisite skill. He canceled out Josh Koscheck’s wrestling with a jab and negated Jake Shields and Carlos Condit’s offense by analyzing their attack and doing what they do, just better than them.
Diaz isn’t a world-class black belt or boxer, but he applies them both to MMA better than most. In these two categories, he is the best opponent GSP has ever faced to date. Wrestling has been GSP’s bread and butter, and like Diaz with Jiu-Jitsu, he applies it to MMA better than maybe anyone.
GSP gets a lot of flak for being too conservative in the cage, so skepticism runs amuck; he says he will give Nick Diaz the worst beating of his life. The thing is, he asked for this fight, and no one was asking him to, so there is a chance we could actually see the dark side of Georges St. Pierre.
In the end, it seems only right that this fight happens for the sake of both their careers and for the sake of fights being made when you can make them. Too many dream matches never materialize due to fight game politics or one of the two fights not holding up their end of the barging in winning their fight.
Can GSP solve yet another combative equation? If so, will he wrestle his way to a decision, or will he render every facet of Diaz’s game inert? Or, will Nick Diaz claim victory by simply “keeping it real?” No matter how you slice it, droves of MMA fans will put down their hard-earned money for a fight that was destined to happen.