Rewind back to April 2007, a time when Georges St. Pierre was untouchable, having defeated Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes in succession, the last of which earned him the welterweight championship.
Enter the little engine that could, Matt Serra.
"The Terror" was in the right place at the right time, catching "Rush" at a point in his career in which he was lackadaisical and buying into his own hype. The result was a first round knockout for the New Yorker and a mentally devastating defeat for the French-Canadian.
The immediate aftermath saw "GSP" take up with a sports psychologist to help him figure out the best approach to the fight game.
Ever since then, St. Pierre has fought with a style many fans and analysts refer to, quite simply, as "safe." The thought process his that he's afraid to take chances because he doesn't want a repeat of the Serra fight.
This approach has worked wonders for his record -- the man hasn't lost a fight since Serra and in fact, has won all but two of the 36 rounds within those fights. And that's against the very best welterweights in the world today.
However, that hasn't helped his reputation. Fighting safe may be smart but it's the furthest thing from stimulating.
"Nick Diaz also on my list of top-10 all time, I love this guy," Rutten told MMA Fight Corner (via FiveKnuckles.com). "If he fights his fight, he can win. He never runs out of gas, I truly hope that from his back he's going to fight. He's going to be like a Cain Velasquez. Fight, fight, fight to get up, to look for submissions. That's what I want to see. If you see that, it's going to be an interesting fight because it's going to push George to show what I think he has in him. And then if George shines he can knockout you out or submit you. That's just the way he is, but if he plays it safe and he says, 'You know what, I don't want to get submitted on the ground,' then he would take [Diaz] down and hold him down. It's one of the two."
St. Pierre is fresh on the heels of one of his least inspired performances since regaining the welterweight title from Jake Shields for five rounds up in the Great White North and not only failed to secure a finish, but lost a couple rounds on two of the judges scorecards.back at UFC 83 in April 2008. "Rush" went toe-to-toe with
It was the first time he had failed to win every round since his Aug. 2007 fight against Josh Koscheck.
Nick Diaz, who recently scored an improbable come-from-behind victory via first round technical knockout over British striker Paul "Semtex" Daley back on April 9, has been vocal about finding new challenges outside the Strikeforce promotion.
The Stockton, Calif., native is riding a 10-fight win streak and has finished all but one of his opponents in dominating fashion.
And with his penchant for trash-talking and playing to his opponents strengths, even just to spite them, he may very well be the guy that brings St. Pierre out of his shell.
Or forces him deeper into it.
Which way are you leaning for the showdown in "Sin City" on Oct. 29?