A new UFC welterweight champion will be crowned at UFC 143 on Saturday night, and it won't be Georges St-Pierre.
The legendary welterweight and future UFC Hall-of-Famer has been sidelined with a knee injury that could keep him out of action for most of 2012.
Now, former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz will take on former WEC champion Carlos Condit to determine an interim UFC champion.
"I respect Carlos Condit, but I want Diaz to win. I want this fight with Diaz so badly, as badly as I wanted the title shot when I got down on my knees," St-Pierre said in a conference call on Thursday. "He needs to hold up his part and beat Carlos Condit on Saturday to make this fight happen."
Diaz and St-Pierre were originally slated to fight one another in October 2011, but the Stockton native was pulled from the bout after failing to appear at multiple mandatory press conferences. He was instead matched with BJ Penn, who he defeated soundly in a memorable three-round battle at UFC 137.
Immediately after the bout, Diaz accused St-Pierre of ducking and dodging fights. The UFC were planning for St-Pierre to face Condit on Super Bowl weekend, but angered by Diaz's post-fight comments, the French-Canadian begged and pleaded for the UFC to reconsider the main event.
UFC President Dana White gave in and decided to book the super fight between St-Pierre and Diaz.
Unfortunately, the bout was called off again in December when St-Pierre was forced off the card with a torn ACL.
"I am ahead of schedule. I can already train and even kick, but I am remaining calm and not rushing. I won't train properly until July," said St-Pierre, when asked about his rehab.
With St-Pierre on the shelf, Diaz and Condit will battle it out for the interim title.
Depending on his recovery, St-Pierre will face the winner down the line to determine the undisputed UFC champion, but until that day comes, he believes a true champion is nonexistent.
"The way I see it, I am not the champion anymore on Saturday night. You have to put the belt on the line in order to call yourself champion, the best in the world. Right now, I am not the best in the world. I am injured," St-Pierre stated.
"The winner of this fight on Saturday will be more than just the new No. 1 contender, but he won't be the new champion either. The winner of this fight will have to beat me to become the true world champion, and I will have to beat the winner of this fight in order to call myself the best in the world again. We have to beat each other to be the undisputed champion."
Jordy McElroy is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand via conference call.
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