UFC 158: Nick Diaz and the 5 Fighters Most Likely to Dethrone Georges St-Pierre
With UFC 158 just about here, we will now see what answers Nick Diaz has come up with to try to solve the riddle that is welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Diaz has spent over a year taunting, antagonizing and bashing the champion each and every time we see him. He will now finally have a chance to prove that he truly is the best in the world, as he claims to be.
Although he is next in line, Diaz isn't necessarily the prototypical opponent to take down GSP. In fact, there are others who have just about as good, if not a better chance than he does.
Here are the top five fighters who are most likely to dethrone the king of the 170-pound division, Georges St-Pierre.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Odds of a GSP Victory: 85 percent
The most recent victim of the top welterweight on the planet, Carlos Condit took a full five-round beating that proved his own abilities as a fighter, but also re-established St-Pierre as No. 1 after his ACL injury.
Condit did have his moments in the fight, including a hellacious head kick that nearly knocked GSP out. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to finish and St-Pierre was able to recover and get right back to dominating the fight.
As the only fighter on this list who's actually fought the champion before, he may have an advantage in knowing what works and what doesn't, but the same holds true for St-Pierre, who now knows that he has to be wary of the head kick from Condit.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Odds of a GSP Victory: 75 percent
He has been portraying himself as the man that GSP is ducking, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Johny Hendricks is the biggest threat to St-Pierre in the near future.
Hendricks' defensive wrestling is among the best in the sport, which allows him to keep many fights on the feet. But he has never gone against Georges St-Pierre, either.
St-Pierre has made a habit of embarrassing some of the best wrestlers in the division, and Hendricks could be just another victim if the fight went to the ground.
Then again, if he did keep the fight on the feet, he does have the knockout power to catch and potentially finish St-Pierre.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Odds of a GSP Victory: 70 percent
The next man in line to get a shot at Georges St-Pierre is also one of the most dangerous possible opponents for him, Nick Diaz.
Diaz, a former Strikeforce welterweight champion in his own right, is one of the most game-ready fighters the sport has ever seen. His constant, in-your-face pressure has a tendency to simply wear down his opponents and eventually beat them into submission.
But St-Pierre is absurdly mentally tough, and we can be certain that he has done plenty of research going into this fight, searching for each and every possible hole in Diaz's game. If there's even the slightest imperfection, St-Pierre and coach Greg Jackson are going to find it.
That said, Diaz has certainly gotten into GSP's head unlike any fighter we've ever seen in the past. Perhaps he will finally be the guy who breaks St-Pierre's zen-like attitude. If he does, the fight could turn into to a brawl, which is exactly what Diaz wants.
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
Odds of a GSP Victory: 60 percent
This one might be the most unlikely to happen on the list, but it's still worth noting.
St-Pierre's teammate, friend and training partner Rory MacDonald is perhaps the hottest up-and-coming welterweight in the world. With a 14-1 record, MacDonald has come into his own as a well-rounded mixed martial artist in his recent fights, including a beatdown of historic proportions against BJ Penn this past December.
MacDonald insists that he would never fight St-Pierre, but in a world that is increasingly dominated by fighters from the same camps, it's hard to believe that these two wouldn't put aside their friendship for one night in order to make a huge payday.
If they do, the test would really be on for St-Pierre. MacDonald is a tremendous wrestler with a ton of raw, brute strength and he is a fighter who could realistically be fighting at 185 rather than 170. As a training partner of St-Pierre's, he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the champion and could be the first fighter to out-game-plan GSP in a fight.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Odds of a GSP Victory: 30 percent
What kind of "GSP's potential opponents" list would be complete without a shout-out to the fight that will never happen?
Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva is like the Pacquiao-Mayweather of the MMA world, except it's a fight that is actually easier to put together considering both guys are fighting under the same banner in the UFC.
The only real difference is that there is a 15-pound difference between the two, meaning that one of them would have to make a dramatic move up in weight, down in weight, or that they'd meet in the middle somewhere without a title on the line, thus killing some of the buzz.
Most assume that if this fight does happen, it'll be St-Pierre making the move up to 185 to meet Silva for the middleweight title. If he does, of course, he will be at a natural size disadvantage, which would only add to Silva's chances to retain his spot as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC.
St-Pierre would have an obvious advantage in the wrestling game, which we have seen be an effective way to control Silva in the past. Unfortunately for St-Pierre, Silva is also perhaps the most deadly striker on the planet, which has been an area GSP has been exposed in before.
Silva vs. St-Pierre would be the biggest fight in the history of the sport—and assuming that it happened at 185, it would be the only possible fight that GSP wouldn't be favored to win.