Now that the fight is over, the results shouldn’t surprise anyone—especially fans of Nick Diaz, who have been beating their war drums ever since the bout was announced.
Diaz had been calling out Georges St-Pierre, saying he was afraid, but after UFC 158, it should be clear to everyone that the champion never had anything to fear from Diaz, and GSP knew it.
Respect? Sure, without a doubt; but fear?
No, nothing to fear there; not when you can control where the fight takes place.
Diaz was a terror in other organizations that needed the money that came from exciting bouts, and perhaps no one is more exciting than Nick Diaz.
He amassed a long win streak that was the basis for a compelling and entertaining argument as to why he was one of the best in the division; but never was he matched up against a fighter with a strong wrestling core while piling up all those wins outside the UFC.
Distance from the facts makes it easier to forget that Diaz has never proven capable of overcoming a strong wrestling game. When you’ve got such an impressive highlight reel of stoppages against stand-up fighters, it becomes even easier.
But against the best welterweights in the world, in the toughest organization, eschewing wrestling in favor of other things simply isn’t going to get the job done.
Nick Diaz did about as well as he could, but it wasn’t nearly enough to back up all the talk; how could it be, when nearly all of his offensive weapons were going to be nullified once he was on his back?
On the ground, GSP had too much submission awareness and power for Diaz, who opted to spend his energy getting the fight back up to two feet rather than attacking with his jiu-jitsu game.
GSP was in control during the entire bout, based upon the fact that he knew he could take the fight to the ground when he needed to.
And he did, often. This is what we’ve come to expect from GSP; it’s never been a secret, which would lend some to believe that perhaps Diaz will never understand or acknowledge the importance of wrestling in the sport.
After all, on the biggest stage, in the biggest fight of his career, Diaz came in with all the tools we’ve known him to possess—nothing less and nothing more.
And he could have used a lot “more” against GSP.
He could have used more takedown defense, more aggression with his striking, more distance to help him attain the latter, and lastly, more hesitation on the part of the champ.
But GSP had no reason to feel hesitant, because he was the one deciding where the bout was going to take place and with that came the certainty that he was the one dictating the distance, not Diaz.
When the bout was contested on the feet, GSP enjoyed far more success than he or his fans would ever have been able to admit possible, mainly because he was in charge of that distance.
No matter what anyone says the fear of a takedown—especially when facing someone who transitions from striking and feints into deep takedowns as well as GSP does—altered the stand-up game of Diaz.
He wasn’t able to overwhelm GSP with punches in bunches because he had to be ever vigilant against the takedown attempt—which saw him stuff more than a few—and a house divided cannot stand.
Now, GSP has another title defense under his belt and Diaz is once again pondering retirement; all the trash talk rendered moot because one fighter had a firm foundation which afforded all his offense a solid footing, and the other didn’t.
If Diaz does retire, we can only hope he decides to spend some time in Iowa during a long, cold winter, because until he embraces that cornerstone of the MMA game that is wrestling, he’s always going to fall short.
And that is a damn shame, because the man has so much more to offer.