UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz – Main Event Preview and Guest Panel Predictions
By Dave Carpinello
UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returns to Montreal’s Bell Centre on March 16, 2013 to face former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. St-Pierre has scored 10 consecutive victories in his dominant reign atop the 170-pound division but no other opponent has motivated him as much as the fiery and unpredictable Diaz. Expect the unexpected this weekend as the calm GSP meets the trash-talking 209 native. Here is PunchDrunkGamer’s UFC 158 main event preview and our UFC 158 Guest Panel filled with current and former MMA fighters and other guests. Enjoy!
Georges St-Pierre (23-2) vs. Nick Diaz (26-8-1)
UFC Welterweight Championship
Georges St-Pierre began his professional mixed martial arts career in 2002 and joined the UFC with an impressive 5-0 record which included stoppages of Ivan Menjivar, Pete Spratt, Thomas Denny, and Travis Galbraith. After decisive wins over Karo Parisyan and Jay Hieron, the Canadian challenged legendary Matt Hughes for the UFC’s welterweight title, losing for the first time in his career.
Following the submission loss St-Pierre put together one of the most impressive win streaks in the sport’s history to establish himself as one of the greatest welterweights on the planet. St. Pierre scored submission victories over Dave Strasser and Frank Trigg, beat on Jason “Mayhem” Miller for three rounds, and became the first person to stop former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk – all before winning a split decision against former UFC champion BJ Penn. St-Pierre then rematched Hughes for the UFC’s welterweight title and won by second round TKO.
St. Pierre was then upset by The Ultimate Fighter 4 winner Matt Serra by first round TKO, but has since put together ten one-sided, dominating performances. “Rush” rebounded from the loss by out-wrestling Josh Koscheck, who is known for his collegiate wrestling background. He then submitted Hughes before stopping Serra with strikes in a rematch. St-Pierre then put on a striking and wrestling clinic against Jon Fitch before stopping BJ Penn in a rematch with the Hawaiian. Then St-Pierre utilized superior wrestling and control to win decisions over Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy before dominating Josh Koscheck and former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields. After taking off 18-months due to injury, St-Pierre returned to outlast Carlos Condit at UFC 154 to retain his belt.
UFC Record: 17-2 (5 TKO, 2 Sub)
Strengths: Excellent wrestling, good striker, athleticism
Weaknesses: Struggles most from his back
Key Wins: Carlos Condit, Jake Shields, B.J. Penn (2), Matt Hughes (2), Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck (2), Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Karo Parisyan, Jason Miller, Pete Spratt, Ivan Menjivar, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Jay Hieron, Matt Serra
Notable Losses: Matt Hughes, Matt Serra
Nick Diaz enters Saturday’s bout looking to rebound from a crushing loss to Carlos Condit at UFC 143 that cost him a chance at the title. Following that fight, he was also suspended for one year after testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Prior to that loss, Diaz was on an impressive eleven-fight win streak and had won fifteen of his last seventeen. During his streak Diaz became the first Strikeforce welterweight champion by stopping Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis. Diaz then traveled to Japan where he submitted PRIDE veteran Hayato “Mach” Sakurai with an armbar.
Diaz then earned a decision in a rematch with KJ Noons, the last man to defeat him before Condit, to defend his Strikeforce title. Diaz then defended his title twice more, submitting Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos and knocking out Paul Daley. Before the Condit fight, Diaz rejoined the UFC prior to the fall of Strikeforce, where he won a one-sided decision over former UFC champion BJ Penn.
In twenty-six professional victories Diaz has stopped eight opponents by submission and 13 by knockout or TKO. Leading up to this title bout, Diaz has implored a heavy dose of trash-talking aimed at just about everybody from St-Pierre to UFC president Dana White to GSP fans and even some of his own neighbors in Stockton, California.
UFC Record: 7-5 (4 TKO, 2 Sub)
Strengths: Excellent Striking/Boxing, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt
Weaknesses: Wrestling, drug tests
Key Wins: BJ Penn, Paul Daley, Frank Shamrock, Chris Lytle, Marius Žaromskis, Robbie Lawler, KJ Noons
Notable Losses: Carlos Condit, Karo Parisyan, Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk, KJ Noons
UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz – Main Event Guest Panel Predictions:
Jamie Varner (21-7-1-2, former WEC Lightweight Champion) – “I am expecting an exciting fight with the champion GSP walking away with his belt.”
Tito Ortiz (16-11-1, UFC Hall of Fame) – “I’ll have to go with Georges St-Pierre via TKO in the third round!”
Matt Lindland (22-9, US Olympic Silver Medalist) – “George St. Pierre has a lot of fans out there and he is a fantastic fighter and a true champion, this does not make me a fan of his though and I will be cheering for Nick Diaz come Saturday night. GSP has been putting together solid safe game plans and I expect he will come prepared with another strategic plan to neutralize Nick Diaz. I am looking forward to seeing if Nick can solve the GSP riddle.”
Paul Bradley (20-5, Strikeforce and UFC Veteran) – “I have got to go with GSP. I don’t think he gets caught up in Diaz’s head games and that he will stick to his gameplay. I’m going with GSP by decision.”
Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (15-8, FCF Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix Champion) – “I really hope Diaz forces GSP to actually fight again!! GSP has become a boring ‘pointer’.”
Scott Casber (Takedown Radio) – “First let me say that this fight really should be a GSP vs. Johny Hendricks battle. It seems that every time Hendricks does what the UFC asks him to do, they go back and redefine what the rules were that would give him a title shot. Not fair. Johny has been diligent in putting in the work to get to the big dance, now let him dance. GSP may be the most marketable fighter the UFC has. That’s both Good and Bad. The match makers may see the winner of the Diaz – GSP fight as being an even better match up for Hendricks. Don’t think I’m counting out the very talented Carlos Condit, I’m not. I do think that Hendricks wins his fight against Condit and GSP will need to find his dark side in order to close the book on the street fighter Diaz. In the end will GSP versus Hendricks happen in 2013? I’m not confident it will but if it does- Bigg Rigg Hendricks wins it all. GSP over Diaz and Hendricks over Condit. Thanks for listening!”
Paul Daley (31-12-2, Former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion) – “Georges St-Pierre wins this fight via GnP, although I really want Diaz to win.”
Andy Main (5-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “GSP and Nick Diaz will hopefully make for and incredible fight. Anyone remember when BJ Penn tore up GSP’s face before gassing and getting dominated on the ground? Well we saw how Nick Diaz’s boxing compares to BJ’s and he won’t gas. He has the potential to do damage. However, the champ is the champ. He’s been a nearly perfect fighter for 10 years and solves every riddle presented to him. I can’t call this fight. Way too many variables. Can GSP stand in the pocket, can he hold Diaz down, can Diaz stop any takedowns, etc. Can’t wait.”
Thomas Denny (27-20-1, Former King of the Cage Welterweight Champion ) – “I have fought both guys in the past, with that being said I think GSP will win a boring decision.”
Elvis Sinosic (The King of Rock & Rumble) – “This is a very intriguing fight and one the hard core fans have been clamoring for. GSP is the undisputed UFC welterweight champion and he has done so in dominant fashion. Nick Diaz was the last Strikeforce welterweight champion. This is a great Champ vs Champ fight to unify the belts except Diaz lost his last match in the UFC. He lost it to previous UFC No.1 contender Carlos Condit (who lost his last match to GSP in dominant fashion). Even though the A-B-C theory doesn’t work it does allow you to get an insight to what may happen. Carlos beat Diaz with a strategy (that left many fans disappointed). He was able to control the distance and score shots and didn’t get drawn in Diaz’s psychological games (which draws fighters into fighting his fight). Carlos was able to win because he was able to fight his fight and Diaz was unable to get Condit into his fight.
When Condit fought GSP, it was GSP that was able to make Condit fight his Game. GSP is the King of Game Plans, the King of Control. He is able to control the fight and make it happen where he wants. He has the best MMA wrestling skills in the UFC. He has the great takedowns and takedown defense. He can dictate where the fight happens and this is what allows him to win his fights. Diaz is an exciting fighter. He has aggressive standup and he’s always moving forward. His ground work is the same, he constantly attacks with submissions and sweeps. He is dangerous because he has the ability to draw fighters into fighting his fight by taunting them. He can win standing or on the ground. Now looking at it from the outside you can see that Diaz was beaten by Condit because he was not drawn into Diaz’s game and was able to implement his strategy for the whole fight. GSP is better at controlling the fight and sticking to a game plan. Diaz has shown early in his career that he lacks takedown defense and has been beaten by good wrestlers who can take him down and neutralize his attacks. This is GSP’s bread and butter. Obviously part of the reason Diaz lacked takedown defense is because he was happy to go to his back and try and submit the fighters with his Jiu Jitsu.
This is great when it works but costs him decisions when it doesn’t. Diaz will really need to work on his takedown defense as his standup and grappling are already where they need to be. His path to victory is making GSP come to him and fight his fight. He needs to draw GSP into the striking game and not be worried about takedowns because his takedown defense has improved. I think GSP will be able to control the fight and force his fight plan onto Diaz. I expect to see Diaz waving his arms in frustration during this fight. I think GSP will win this via decision. Hopefully it will be a great entertaining fight along the way to the result.
Guest Panel Predictions Results:
Georges St-Pierre – 7
Nick Diaz – 0
Undecided – 3
Post your comments directly below! You can also discuss the latest MMA and Video Game News in the PunchDrunkGamer Forums and don’t forget to Follow PDG on Twitter @PunchDrunkGamer and Like the PDG Official Facebook Page!