In a matter of days, arguably the most anticipated UFC championship fights of 2013 goes down in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with hometown hero Georges St-Pierre (GSP) defending his UFC welterweight championship against Nick Diaz.
Diaz was the small dog with a big bark from the conflicting MMA organization’s Elite XC and Strikeforce that called for a showdown with GSP for almost half a decade, even when he was promoting a fight with another adversary.
GSP had bigger fish to fry inside the Octagon though, but that all changed when Zuffa, LLC, the parent company to the UFC pulled out their pocketbook, buying their biggest rival, the San Jose-based organisation, Strikeforce.
The pair of talented welterweights have been paired up for a clash of champion’s super-fight twice already but both times those plans were nixed – The UFC 137 bout after Diaz failed to live up to his media obligations and UFC 143 fight after GSP tore his ACL that put him on the shelf for 18 months.
The bout somewhat lost some of its lustre after Diaz dropped a razor-thin decision to Carlos Condit for the interim UFC welterweight title. Plus, his failed drug test for marijuana that kept him out of action for an additional nine months didn’t help either.
The internet was swirling with comments discussing their lack of interest in the title fight, calling into question whether the bad blood between Diaz and GSP had an expiration date. The critics were all silenced however, when they bitterly argued on the UFC 158 pre-fight media conference call.
GSP is notorious for manufactured builds towards his championship fights but Diaz managed to get under his skin, and flipped the script entirely. The typically press-shy fighters engaged in a war of words, displaying their animosity for thousands of gasping listeners.
As the anticipation builds for the championship fight that’s on the lips of every mixed martial arts enthusiast, let’s take a deeper look at the match-up.
At first glance, the striking department seems to be a huge edge for Diaz. The Stockton, California native has an impressive boxing highlight reel, overwhelming his adversaries with volume striking to lace a full body beat down.
Diaz hits his target with 6.03 significant strikes per minute. While he isn’t a powerhouse slugger with one-punch, knockout power his accumulative attack breaks down his opponent, without decelerating the speed when entering deep waters.
The fights where he looks best are the ones when his adversary plays right into his hands. In a scrappy brawl, the cardio boxing from Diaz will stump almost anyone in the UFC 170 pound division.
Unfortunately for Diaz, GSP isn’t the style of fighter to stand in the pocket and trade leather – he has a method to his madness.
What people forget about St-Pierre because he has become such an outstanding wrestler is his base is Kyokushin karate. While he is capable of playing on the feet with Diaz, he is notorious for pinpointing and exploiting his opponent’s biggest flaw.
In this case, St-Pierre will use his striking to find openings and shoot for his unmatched double leg takedown.
The most crippling attack of St. Pierre is his relentless takedown offence, getting his foes to the mat 78 percent of the time. Accomplished wrestlers like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch that on paper should toy with St. Pierre considering their credentials have all tested their mettle against the welterweight kingpin and have all faltered.
It isn’t going to be a walk in the park to implement his game plan against Diaz. Sitting in top position and unloading with ground-and-pound is his likely approach but Diaz, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) black belt under world-renowned grappler Cesar Gracie can give the champ difficulties.
Five of the eight submissions on the resume of Diaz came from bottom position, where he is likely to spend a large portion of this bout. The problem will be finding openings. St. Pierre is great at top position control and rarely takes risks that will give the former Strikeforce champ opportunities to catch him in a submission hold.
When you intently break down this blockbuster pay-per-view headliner, it’s clear that this is GSP’s fight to lose. If he enters with a level head, I see no reason why the UFC welterweight crown will change hands.
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