GSP's Trainer: Nick Diaz Deserves to Be No. 1 Contender over Hendricks

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GSP's Trainer: Nick Diaz Deserves to Be No. 1 Contender over Hendricks
Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Mention the word superfight, and some mixed martial arts fans go into a frenzy. On one side, you have the supporters who claim superfights are good for the sport, that they let fans know just who the best fighter is. 

The naysayers view them as novelties at best, a way to make a whole lot of cash, while hurting the weight divisions the superfighters normally compete in. The superfight of the moment is the potential matchup between UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.  

There’s one problem surrounding this superfight, and that is the fact that St-Pierre doesn’t seem all that hyped up to face Silva right now.  With that in mind, it may be time to shelve all the superfight talk and start looking at who’s out there at the 170-pound limit for St-Pierre to defend his title against.

Johny Hendricks seemed to move to the top of the class when he knocked out Martin Kampmann in 46 seconds at UFC 154. You’d have a hard time arguing that the man with the powerful left hand and the superhuman beard doesn’t deserve the title shot.

At the same time, you’d also have a hard time finding a casual MMA fan who has more than a passing knowledge of exactly who Hendricks is and what type of threat he is to St-Pierre.

That’s not to disparage the accomplishments of Hendricks. His 14-1 record is impressive, as are his three “Knockout of the Night” performances, but he has yet to make that leap to superstar status.

St-Pierre’s head trainer, Firas Zahabi, seems to agree with the above sentiment, recently telling MMAJunkie.com:

I think (Nick) Diaz is the guy who deserves it most. His fight with Carlos (Condit) was so close. Who knows? People judge it both ways.

[Diaz is] the guy who is the Strikeforce champion. He climbed up the ladder all the way. Johny deserves it very much, but Diaz has been there longer and done more fights and has bigger wins.

If you want to be really fair about it, he is the guy who beat the most amount of names in the biggest fights.

Zahabi’s comments may be a (very) thinly veiled attempt to get the UFC to set up a bout between St-Pierre and Diaz as St-Pierre’s next title defense, and if they are, the timing would seem to make sense for a bout between the two.

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Diaz is currently serving out a one-year suspension with the Nevada Athletic Commission after his post-fight drug screen came back positive for marijuana metabolites following his loss to Condit at UFC 143. Diaz’s suspension runs out in early February. 

White had previously stated that Diaz would not come back to the UFC and immediately fight for a title, but we also know that White’s mind can be changed concerning the topic of who is and who isn’t the top contender. You can bet the farm that the buzz for a St-Pierre versus Diaz fight would far outweigh the interest in a St-Pierre versus Hendricks matchup, no matter who would appear on the latter undercard.

St-Pierre and Diaz do have unfinished business to take care of, so I doubt you would hear too many complaints if the UFC lined up a fight between the two. 

The animosity between the two reached its peak at UFC 137, when Diaz’s post-fight rant so infuriated St-Pierre that he requested Diaz as his next opponent. Alas, that fight was not to be, as St-Pierre injured his knee and had to undergo surgery, opening the door for the Diaz versus Condit bout at UFC 143.

Some will argue that Diaz doesn’t “deserve” the shot at St-Pierre, as he is coming off a loss, but just as many will argue that this is a fight the fans want to see. By the sounds of things, it’s also a fight that both fighters seem more than ready to take part in.

Dana White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva have some serious thinking to do, especially if St-Pierre (officially) says thanks, but no thanks to the potential superfight with Silva. 

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