Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz is a matchup the UFC has been trying to set up for the better part of two years. The intense personal rivalry between arguably the two best welterweights in the world will finally take place at UFC 158.
What makes the potential for this fight so great, with the obvious exception of St-Pierre and Diaz being amazing at what they do, is how personal this fight has become. Diaz has berated St-Pierre every chance he gets, forcing the Canadian to retaliate in ways he usually doesn't.
The time for talking is nearly over. All that is left will be to decide who is the better fighter. St-Pierre has been welterweight champion for nearly six years. Diaz was on a three-year winning streak before losing to Carlos Condit last February.
So much history is at stake with only 25 minutes to decide who is the best. Here are the keys to victory for St-Pierre and Diaz at UFC 158.
Exploit Diaz's Aggressiveness; Keep the Fight Going
St-Pierre is not the kind of fighter who is going to change his game plan to prove a point or send a message. He locks in on what an opponent can't do, takes advantage of it early and then forces his opponent to make an adjustment.
What makes St-Pierre so dangerous is his ability to adapt his style to what his opponent does well, and in turn make his opponent try to find a new way to win.
Diaz is not a subtle fighter. He wants to come out of the gate as hard and fast as he possibly can. He has changed his style over the years, going from a wrestler to a stand-and-trade power puncher.
That will work to St-Pierre's advantage.
As Diaz gets so amped up coming out of the gate, St-Pierre will basically let Diaz do all the work and punch himself out early to control the fight late.
Diaz falls apart the longer a fight goes on, either because he is out of energy or because he just loses focus—hard to imagine with Diaz, I know. As this fight gets into the third, fourth and fifth rounds, it works to St-Pierre's benefit.
St-Pierre isn't going to finish the fight, because that's not his style. He has to do what he does better than any fighter in the sport by dictating and controlling every aspect of the action inside the Octagon.
Don't show your hand right away; arrogance will not be your ally
Diaz has to leave some things for St-Pierre to react to as the fight goes on, assuming neither fighter ends this match early. No one will be shocked to see Diaz come out at the bell just throwing haymakers, but that can't be his only strategy.
We know Diaz can bring a fight to the ground and do work with submissions. We know he can get in the mount position to bludgeon an opponent with hammer fists. He just refuses to do that much anymore because he wants to be a boxer.
If St-Pierre can plan to stand for all five rounds, Diaz is going to be in a world of trouble before the first round ends. He has to be able to adapt his style as the fight goes on if he wants to win the welterweight championship.
Another problem Diaz runs into is his own psyche. He is such a wild card with everything he does, whether stepping into the Octagon or talking into a microphone, that you never know what to expect.
If Diaz doesn't get the fight to go his way early, he can just shut his mind down and take the loss. He needs to park whatever pride he has if he wants to defeat St-Pierre. The mind is just as important in a fight like this as the body.
No fighter in the sport is as mentally strong as St-Pierre. Diaz has no idea what he is going to do one moment to the next.