UFC 158: Nick Diaz Has to Fight the Perfect Fight to Beat GSP
As Saturday night's UFC 158 main event between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz inches closer, the hype only continues to grow for what has been one of the most intense rivalries in the recent history of the sport.
Diaz is finally getting the fight he has asked for since early-2010 and the one St-Pierre demanded following Diaz's actions at UFC 137 when he called out the champion, who had recently torn his ACL, asserting that St-Pierre wasn't really injured and was scared to fight him.
With fight day now here, all the talk has finally come to a point and it's time for these two warriors to let their fists do the talking and find out who really is the best 170-pounder in the world today.
But for one fighter, that could prove be much more difficult than some are making it out to be.
The dirty truth about MMA judging today is that it is geared toward one style of fighting—wrestling.
While Diaz is an incredible boxer with wizard-like jiu-jitsu skills on the ground, his wrestling is fairly subpar when compared to other top fighters. This could be a serious problem, especially when you consider that St-Pierre is by far and away the most accurate takedown artist in the history of the UFC.
Diaz has struggled in the past against fighters who took him down. This list includes the likes of Sean Sherk, Joe Riggs and Diego Sanchez—all of whom are solid wrestlers—but none of whom are St-Pierre.
St-Pierre's style is absolutely perfect for the way that most judges score MMA fights—jabs on the feet, top control on the ground and total strikes landed.
In fact, not only is St-Pierre the best we've ever seen at achieving takedowns, but he has also landed more significant strikes than any fighter to ever step into the Octagon. While BJ Penn checks in at 858 in second place, St-Pierre crushes that total with an unbelievable 1048 total strikes landed in his UFC career.
Despite having a style that really doesn't make use of much wrestling at all, Diaz has somehow won 11-of-12 fights, including nine finishes by way of knockout or submission.
However in his most recent contest, we saw exactly why his style doesn't always prove to be effective on the judges' scorecards.
Carlos Condit frustrated Diaz at UFC 143, fighting a Lyoto Machida-like defensive style of making Diaz move around the cage while occasionally connecting with light punches or leg kicks. The damage Condit inflicted throughout the five round bout was minimal, but it was effective because the judges saw him connecting over and over again.
Diaz, on the other hand, was unable to implement his trademark bullying style of trapping his opponent and unloading on them with a barrage of medium-strength punches designed to wear the body down and break the will of his opponent.
In the end, despite having Condit on his heels throughout almost the entire fight, Diaz walked away a loser on the judges' scorecards, and it really wasn't close (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).
While we don't expect St-Pierre to come out and mimic what Condit did against Diaz at UFC 143, the reality is that he'll probably come in with an even better gameplan—one which will very likely involve putting Diaz on his back over and over again.
In today's world of MMA where one takedown can often be the difference in who wins or loses a round, this will be a massive advantage for GSP, just as it has been for him in many of his previous fights.
In order for Diaz to win on Saturday night, he is going to have to have the fight of his life. He will need to connect over and over again on the feet while somehow preventing perhaps the best MMA-wrestler in the sport from taking him down.
That, or he'll have to become the first fighter to ever submit GSP from his back.
Diaz will have to be absolutely perfect at UFC 158 to even have a chance at becoming the UFC welterweight champion.
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