There’s a lot rumors circulating about how closely St. Pierre vs. Diaz will resemble Henderson vs. Diaz from UFC on FOX 5 last December. This prediction does make sense, considering both matches involve a Diaz brother going up against a much stronger opponent who will most likely use his reliable wrestling base to neutralize the Diaz’s signature striking game. However, what truly solidifies the likelihood of these two matches looking exactly the same is not just the physical presence of the title holders, but also their determination to make a statement going into each fight.
Prior to his title defense, Bendo was supposed to have a disadvantage in the stand-up department for two reasons. One, the two dominant victories that earned Nate his title shot involved him using his reach and unique boxing to pick his adversaries apart on the feet. Two, Bendo’s previous fight saw him land little if any solid strikes on Frankie Edgar and many were beginning question whether or not he had lost the desire to stand and bang since he could now carefully eek out decisions with less risk of being hurt.
The lightweight champion proved us all wrong when he knocked down and lit up the challenger several times over the course of five rounds with a variety of explosive blows. He gave Nate the worst beating he has ever had both on the feet and on the ground in a completely one-sided victory. All who were skeptical of Henderson’s capacity to deliver an aggressive assault of punches and kicks looked like fools after what was arguably the best performance of his young career.
Georges St. Pierre is facing the same skepticism heading into UFC 158 this Saturday night. He too is having his striking abilities questioned by those who are dissatisfied with his tendency to use his incomparable wrestling skills to bring superior kickboxers to the ground. Bendo was heavily criticized for not taking initiative in his uneventful fight with Frankie Edgar, and the fact that GSP hasn’t finished a fight in years has deemed him a boring and cheap fighter in the eyes of many fans and fighters alike. The majority of us are predicting that St. Pierre will not deviate from his usual fighting style by wrestling Nick and holding him down for five rounds. But wasn’t it also foreseen that Bendo would choose to closely out-point Nate rather than attack with full force?
Benson Henderson wanted to show the world what he can do to someone who isn’t in the same class as him in his fight with Nate Diaz. Ben’s win let everybody know that Nate’s punches could not compete with his martial arts-influenced versatility. GSP will be looking to make a very similar statement at UFC 158, and Nick Diaz is the perfect opponent to use at his expense simply because, just like Bendo, he knows he can beat the challenger both on the feet and on the ground.
St. Pierre's offense in this upcoming fight is going to mimic Bendo's game plan against Nate. Before assuming control of the fight with his wrestling, Georges will get right in Nick’s face to batter him with punches and kicks. Georges chose not to exchange with Thiago Alves, Carlos Condit and Dan Hardy (among others) because he believed that one opportunity to connect was too many for any of these dangerous strikers. This is not the case with Nick Diaz, who does not have the power, speed, and accuracy that could potentially overwhelm or knock out GSP should he be at all patient with his desire to take Diaz down.
Unlike Frankie Edgar, Bendo wasn’t entirely afraid of Nate Diaz’s hands. This is why he looked so different in these two fights, as he knew Nate wouldn’t pose anywhere near as much of a threat as the former champion. Georges’ respect for Nick’s boxing works the same way, which is probably due to the fact that he hasn’t out-struck any top welterweight contenders in the UFC. Most of GSP’s previous challengers, like Condit for instance, had much more intimidating knockout records.
St. Pierre’s multiple edges over Diaz are the primary reason he has been waiting to fight him for some time. Georges can make an example out of the unqualified Nick, and that’s just what he’ll do by making Diaz’s stand up and ground skills look inferior to his own simply because, for the first time in a while, he can. If Georges really wanted to really test his stand up capabilities, he would have just fought Johny Hendricks instead; someone who actually has a chance of ending his historic title reign if GSP leaves himself open on the feet for even a second.
Make no mistake about it, Georges St. Pierre will give one of the most impressive performances of his career at UFC 158 and we will finally understand why Nick Diaz doesn’t have a shot in hell at becoming the UFC welterweight champion.