Regardless of the outcome, the UFC 158 headliner between Nick Diaz and GSP will bring out the best version of Georges St-Pierre we've seen in years.
The long-time welterweight champion has enjoyed a spot among the top fighters in every pound-for-pound list. He's the most cerebral fighter in the sport and always has the perfect game plan. His dominance has been so thorough and so systematic that he's been called boring by the "Just Bleed" sector.
That's why Nick Diaz is the perfect opponent for St-Pierre.
At this point in GSP's career, there aren't too many styles he hasn't seen.
Elite wrestler? Jake Shields, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Matt Hughes can all attest to the fact that you can't beat St-Pierre with wrestling.
Dynamic strikers? Carlos Condit, Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves have found the difficulty in trying to put St-Pierre away on the feet.
However, he has yet to fight someone like Diaz. A volume striker on the feet with slick jiu-jitsu and cardio to last for days, Diaz is a one-of-a-kind fighter (well, unless you count his brother, Nate).
Stylistically, this is just a great fight. You have the ultimate intelligent fighter in GSP, who is always controlling the pace and utilizing the best (if not safest) path to victory.
On the other hand, you have a true brawler in Diaz. The Stockton, Calif. product wants nothing more than to turn things into a street fight. While his taunting will certainly add an interesting element to the fight, it's the pressure that he brings to the table that will make things interesting.
GSP is used to taking control in a fight. He generally controls where the action takes place and the pacing of the fight. While he should be able to score takedowns, Diaz has great jiu-jitsu and will make St-Pierre work to gain dominant position.
On the feet, Diaz has a better chance than anyone to make a fight of it. His pace is and aggression is something that GSP hasn't seen in his career because very few in the sport set the pace that Diaz does. As Fightnomics points out, Diaz is one of the most busy fighters in the sport, producing almost double the amount of significant strikes as St-Pierre.
#UFC158 Fun Fact: Nick Diaz has the highest average significant strike attempt rate of any fighter on the card. Almost double GSP's rate— Fightnomics Reed (@Fightnomics) March 11, 2013
Then you have the buildup to this fight. It's been well-publicized that these two don't really like each other all that much. While St-Pierre is no stranger to having opponents try to get under his skin, Diaz is the master of the art.
Georges is being weird right now. Georges isn't close to being Georges.There's no doubt this thing has messed with his head. I just think he's pissed. He's a in a different place than he's ever been because he's mad.
If GSP is really angry at Diaz, he'll need to make sure that it doesn't affect his style. Getting into a slugfest with Diaz is the worst possible scenario for a fighter as calculated as St-Pierre.
What he needs to do with that anger is to allow it to take him to the next level. After dominating the division for so long, he hasn't pushed himself to finish a fight in four years.
With an entirely unique opponent and different mindset, the stage is set for GSP to put on one of the greatest performances of his career.