Georges St-Pierre has been hovering around the top of MMA's pound-for-pound lists for years now. He has consistently handled almost everybody Dana White and the UFC have put in front of him. In fact, when he is eating his celebratory Big Mac after his wins, he often doesn't even look like he's been a scrap at all, because he is so good at dominating the positional aspect of the game and avoiding punishment.
He seemingly has the MMA game down to a science, and he often has a huge advantage in either the stand-up or on the ground, and often he has both. He is rarely in danger and is strong enough to explode out of most threatening situations. He is truly great at MMA.
Enter Nick Diaz, GSP's polar opposite at welterweight. Dude is a fighter. No, dude is a warrior. You'll never be able to say, after one of his scraps, that he doesn't look like he's been in a fight.
Diaz consistently stalks, talks and intimidates his way right through his opponents, come what may. His chin gets tested in seemingly every fight. Like Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria, he has had to go through plastic surgery to remove the scar tissue that had accumulated through his repeated balls-out wars.
Diaz has seemingly transformed himself from UFC reject to one of MMA's biggest fan favorites. In an age where skill seems so often to negate skill and so many fights end up in the hands of the judges, Diaz will have none of it. And it's not because of any lack of skill on his part. He is one of the most feared grapplers around, always a threat from top or bottom position.
Who will have the greater legacy?
But it is exactly in this way that Diaz resembles one of the most beloved fighters in the history of MMA, Chuck Liddell. Most people remember Chuck as a warrior, someone who, like Diaz, was always up for a brawl or a chin-testing contest. And like Liddell with his wrestling, Diaz can use the threat of his ground game to keep the fight standing, where he is equally lethal. And fans love him for it.
With Zuffa's purchase of Stikeforce, it is possible that GSP and Diaz will meet at some point down the road in a potential UFC vs Strikeforce Superbout. And it is possible, maybe even likely, that GSP will rely on his physical gifts to dominate and outwrestle Diaz the way Diaz was outwrestled in his younger days in his first stint with the UFC. It certainly wouldn't be a shock result.
But if Diaz somehow can leave the octagon holding the belt high over his head, his legacy will be cemented, and he will be up there with the most beloved of all fighters like Chuck Liddell and Fedor Emilianenko.
And if he doesn't, he can rest easy knowing that while he may not have the belt, he has spent the last few years earning something far more important: Respect.
When it comes down to it, people will remember and love George St-Pierre. He will retire as one of the greats, and his highlight reels will amaze.
The difference is, in 20 years, people will still be watching Nick Diaz's entire fights. They're that good, and he is a true mixed martial artist who expresses himself with real emotional content, in a manner would make Godfather of MMA Bruce Lee proud. "Reeeeeal emotional con-tent."