There’s very little question that Johny Hendricks should be the next man to challenge champion Georges St-Pierre. “Bigg Rigg” has rattled off five consecutive victories, and in that stretch he’s beaten three top-10 ranked opponents (Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann), knocking two (Fitch and Kampmann) of those men out in brutal fashion. He also toppled the durable, 10-15 ranked Mike Pierce in that same five-fight span.
Few challengers blitz the best of the division and find themselves overlooked when it comes time to talk title shots. But Johny’s found himself in that boat. He’s been bypassed in favor of a match pitting Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.
Is it the logical maneuver to make when aiming to establish a young sport as…well, a legitimate sport? No, it’s not. Johny is the rightful No. 2 ranked welterweight, and he should be getting his shot at the welterweight kingpin. However, at the end of the day, the UFC must make money, and it must deposit asses in seats.
Is the UFC lobbying for recognition as a legitimate sport or is the organization content to travel the sports entertainment route, akin to the WWE? That’s the question on everyone’s mind.
Dana White and company certainly hope to see their promotion continue to expand, and while this specific case of fighter-pick-ems (St-Pierre requested the fight with Diaz) feels like a minor setback, Zuffa brass know what they’re doing. Johny Hendricks will get his shot, but for the time being, he’s going to have to take the backseat to one of the sports’ most polarizing figures.
At the end of the day, it’s all about selling tickets and pay-per-views. Nick Diaz is the kind of guy that fans pay attention to. His abrasive attitude and complete fearlessness make him a highly marketable product.
Throw Nick Diaz in a main event slot, and the MMA world is paying attention.
When you consider the fact that Georges St-Pierre, one of the UFC’s greatest monetary draws, will be the man standing opposite the Stockton bad boy, you can guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, that this event will sell like few cards do.
Nick Diaz has a serious following. We’re talking about a legion of fans fully dedicated to his wild presence, all-out attacks and two middle fingers. Fans love this guy, but he’s yet to reach his full-potential star power.
As it stands, most view Diaz as a supremely dangerous opponent, who can’t quite seem to make it beyond that final hurdle. The man did secure the Strikeforce welterweight championship, but there’s a world of difference between taking a Strikeforce belt, and taking the UFC belt away from perennial pound-for-pound considerate, Georges St-Pierre.
If Diaz can overcome the odds and defeat St-Pierre, he’ll pull down the true level of fame he’s capable of. He’ll also ignite frenzy in the welterweight division.
Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit met for the interim championship back at UFC 143. Condit utilized a stick-and-move style that won him the fight. But many spectators saw something else. They say Nick Diaz is constantly stalking “The Natural Born Killer,” and in many eyes, they saw Condit running away from a fight.
As much as I wanted to see Diaz exit that fight victorious, I had to keep bias a distant burden and judge the fight for what it was. It was a win for Condit.
However, debates still rage on about the outcome of this fight, and that makes things interesting, because in truth, if you’re a believer that Diaz won the fight, then you’re a believer that he was the man who deserved the shot against GSP at UFC 154. I don’t believe he won that fight, but that’s irrelevant. It was a fairly close contest, and now we’ll get to see what Nick Diaz has to offer the champion come March 16 when the two tangle at UFC 158.
These men do not like each other. However, the Canadians absolutely worship Georges St-Pierre. And with good reason—he’s phenomenal and he represents a country that hasn’t produced an absurd amount of top flight mixed martial arts.
The man holds a country on his shoulders.
If GSP’s disdain for Nick Diaz is as genuine as it seems, he’s going to look for a finish in this fight. I don’t predict we’ll see the contest end within the allotted 25-minute time frame, but I do predict an absolutely primal beatings delivered by the hometown hero.
That alone should keep Canadians pleased for years to come.
As I noted, there will be no love lost when these two men finally toe-the-line. The two simply do not care for each other.
Nick Diaz has hurled numerous insults at GSP, both inside and outside of the cage. In fact, he’s launched a vicious verbal attack that seems to have really gotten under the skin of the champion. I don’t think we’ve seen St-Pierre so eager to beat someone up since his second encounter with Josh Koscheck.
Nick in turn, will grant GSP no mercy. He’ll come for the finish, and he’ll be aiming to put leather on St-Pierre as often as possible. We’re going to see some amazing taunting and smack talk in this fight, and that might only work to further rile the champion up.
This is going to be one damn bloody affair.
Aside from Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre has never once shied away from a bout. He fights the men they put in front of him, and he embarrasses them.
You don’t tangle with men like Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn and Carlos Condit if you’re afraid of tough competition. St-Pierre’s a somewhat emotional dude, but he’s certainly not a coward.
He’s done what the promotion has asked of him time and again, and if GSP turns the tables for a fight, and actually requests a fight with a man he’s eager to get his hands on, I’d say he’s earned the right. He’s nearly cleaned out the division, on more than a single occasion, and while there’s a new contender who looks remarkably dangerous, I think the UFC tossing a loyal employee a bone isn’t too outlandish.
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