At the first press conference for UFC 158, George St-Pierre claimed Nick Diaz was the man to beat in the 170-pound division, despite claims that Johny Hendricks was the true No. 1 contender.
UFC 158 takes place in Montreal, Quebec and is headlined by the long-awaited title fight between Diaz and the welterweight champion St-Pierre. Also on the card is what Dana White called a "welterweight tournament," which includes Johny Hendricks fighting Jake Ellenberger instead of getting a shot at title.
After Hendricks battled his way to a five-fight win streak in the UFC, which included brutal knockout victories over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, the champion GSP opted to call for a fight withDiaz.
Diaz last fought back in February 2012, when he lost to Carlos Condit by decision. By the time his title bout with GSP comes around on March 16, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion will have gone 13 months without fighting because of a suspension.
However, UFC President Dana White chose to grant the wish of champion George "Rush" St-Pierre, which angered Hendricks and many fans of the sport.
Despite the contrasting year between Diaz and Hendricks, GSP still thinks Diaz is the next best fighter in the division.
"This is the fight that everyone wants to see," GSP said. "To me, Nick Diaz is the No. 1 contender. There is a story between us."
"I believe he's the man to beat in the division. I want to fight the guy who's ranked the best. The best guy right now is Nick Diaz."
The champion went on to explain why he overlooked Hendricks. He claimed he chose not to fight Hendricks because he felt he lost his split decision bout with former challenger Josh Koscheck.
“My other option was Johny Hendricks and Johny Hendricks when I watched the fight with Josh Koscheck, according to me Josh Koscheck should have won that fight, so I didn’t want to fight a guy that lost to a guy I beat,” said St-Pierre.
Many will argue a champion should be able to choose who they fight, but it seems St-Pierre is now in the business of deciding whether a win is a legitimate win, or should have been a loss, to decide who he faces.
There is no doubt George St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz is huge for the UFC. In truth, it is probably more valuable to the UFC than GSP vs Hendricks, but when handing out highly debatable title shots, especially to fighters who have not won in over a year, where will the UFC finally draw the line?