Why St-Pierre vs. Diaz Doesn’t Excite Me
Today it was announced that “Business as usual” really means “We’re going to do whatever the hell we want with Strikeforce, deal with it.” This announcement came right about the same time that the Georges St-Pierre-Nick Diaz bout was officially booked for UFC 137 this October. I’ve read and heard many people get extremely excited about this fight, but I’m not one of them. I’ve been asked why, and the answer is simple; Nick Diaz isn’t a threat to St-Pierre’s title. Keep reading to find out why.
The first thing I should make clear is that this is no way, shape, or form a bad fight. St-Pierre is either the best or second best fighter on the planet, depending on who you ask. Diaz is a legitimate top 5 Welterweight who brings a new stylistic challenge to GSP. The problem is that the style Nick brings isn’t one that is likely to trouble the UFC champion. Despite having a dangerous striking game and a dangerous guard, Diaz will be limited by what has always limited him, his wrestling game. Part of Diaz’s wrestling issues stem from the fact that he’s not a good wrestler to begin with, but a bigger issue is that there are times when Nick resigns himself to the fate that he’s not a stellar wrestler and is too willing to fight off of his back. If Diaz gives Georges the opportunity to take him down with ease and then makes no effort to get up, he’ll spend 90% of this fight on his back. We just saw once again at UFC 130, that regardless of what a fighter does from his back, it’s miraculous if he wins a decision, and with a grappler as skilled as St-Pierre in top position, it will be difficult to get anything going.
This dynamic will likely lead to Diaz pandering to the referee and crowd for stand ups that he will be unlikely to get. It will also serve to further alienate St-Pierre from fans who are already beginning to tire of his style of dominance. With Brock Lesnar out of action for the foreseeable future, the UFC does not need their biggest active star turned into a villain. Especially not by a fighter viewed by them as a loose cannon, and someone who has been difficult to deal with in the past.
Nick Diaz is an entertaining character in his own right, and many MMA fans love him (many hate him as well), but the fact remains that St-Pierre is a better champion to have for the UFC to continue to grow into the mainstream. Diaz’s crass attitude and willingness to step away from the sport at any given time mean that the UFC would constantly have to be walking on eggshells with him, something they historically have been unable to do. Furthermore, Diaz’s persona would not go over well with mainstream media outlets like St-Pierre’s does. While fans have made a running joke out of Georges’ pre-fight interviews, those are the types of superficial responses many media outlets clamour for.
While I know that many fans – whether they like Diaz or not – want to see the Strikeforce champion win, I believe his wrestling limitations will cause him to lose a rather tepid decision. It is also likely a better scenario for the sport’s long-term growth for GSP to retain his title, regardless of the fashion or the resulting stagnancy in the Welterweight division simply due to what he brings to the table in terms of marketability. More people will tune in to watch a boring St. Pierre fight for $60 than are willing to watch Diaz for free. That is very telling, and while the UFC has made this fight out of an absence of challengers at 170, you can bet that they would prefer to see their champion’s hand raised at the end of the night.
I feel like I can already see the entire buildup and this actual fight playing out in my head. Diaz will try to provoke in interviews and pre-fight showdowns, St. Pierre will not respond, other than claiming he is the best he’s ever been, Diaz is his most dangerous challenger, and he guarantees that this time WILL be different, he will stop Diaz. Then we’ll see five rounds of the durable Diaz being unable to do anything to St. Pierre, and at the end of the night there will be renewed discussion about how boring Georges is, and how the sport is being ruined.
Honestly, can’t say I’m excited for it.