You read their articles, you watch and listen to their interviews, but often the personal opinions of the mixed martial arts (MMA) media get brushed over.
These media members have inside knowledge of the sport and a unique perspective of the fighters they have the privilege of interacting with. Before you place that bet in Vegas or with your friends, be sure to check out what those most educated about the sport have to say about the upcoming event.
UFC 158 is just days away and with the hype reaching a peak, fans are wondering how the event headliner is going to go down. Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz are set to meet with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)welterweight championship on the line in the main event at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Read as twelve of the sport's writers and reporters break down and predict the UFC 158 welterweight championship main event of Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz.
Mike Bohn (MMA Mania): As riveting as it would be to wake up Sunday morning and live in a world where Nick Diaz is UFC welterweight champion, the chances of that happening are quite slim. Georges St-Pierre has a pretty clear path to victory by repeatedly take the fight to the ground and avoiding submission attempts. The former should be fairly easy for "Rush" to accomplish, but the latter, not so much. Both men are extremely difficult to put away, which means the fight will likely go the distance. The two will scrap everywhere over the course of the 25 minutes, and I wouldn't put it past Diaz to corner St. Pierre into some dicey situations in the bout, but ultimately the man who can control where the match takes place is going to come out the victory, and that man is St. Pierre. Georges St. Pierre via unanimous decision.
Dave Doyle (MMA Fighting/SI.com): I can't lie, guys and gals. Part of me really wants Nick Diaz to win. Not because I like or dislike either fighter, but simply because of the headlines it will produce. The Stockton bad boy, the guy who thumbs his nose at what Dana White wants and flips off everyone else, who could test positive for weed after any given fight, getting control of a UFC title? It's a reporter's dream come true. Unfortunately for all our sites' page views, though, I think St-Pierre treats Diaz the same way he does everyone else who has crossed his path the past few years. St-Pierre by unanimous decision.
Chuck Mindenhall (ESPN): The pressure on GSP to finish a fight is there, but not at the expense of losing one. Here's how this thing is going down Saturday night: Diaz will bring early pressure, St-Pierre will swoop in and take him down, and next thing we know three rounds will be in the books. St-Pierre will terrorize Diaz's forehead with elbows and tenderize his ribs with knees. In the fourth, he'll stand with Diaz. They'll trade. Diaz will mean mug, say some dirty things, and make the "come get some" hand gesture. And then St-Pierre will take him down again and, mid-fourth round, finish him via TKO. There really is no other scenario. Watch. GSP via TKO.
Shaun Al-Shatti (MMA Fighting): Though it's hard to ignore just how much fun it would be if Nick Diaz pulled the upset, and how the ensuing madness might cause Dana White to go bald all over again, I just don't see it happening. Diaz is at his best when he coaxes opponents into matching his style, and it's difficult to think he'll be able to do so against a fighter with the in-cage IQ of St-Pierre. No surprise here, but my guess is St-Pierre comes out like a man on fire, muscles Diaz to the mat, and grounds him out for 25 minutes to take a unanimous decision and retain his belt.
Damon Martin (Bleacher Report): If there was any doubt about St-Pierre and Diaz being a grudge match, those questions were answered emphatically during last week's media conference call. Diaz has done his best to get under GSP's skin and rile him up to the point where he's willing to stand and trade during their fight this weekend. Unfortunately, GSP has never really been rattled to the point where he abandons his game plan and this fight will likely be no different. Diaz steps forward with aggression at all times and that makes him open for wrestlers. In MMA, there may not bea better wrestler than St-Pierre. Expect GSP to take Diaz down repeatedly over 25-minutes on his way to another decision win.
Guilherme Cruz (Tatame): First, I disagree with Nick Diaz getting the title shot. That said, it has the potential to be an exciting fight, but I hardly see GSP standing and banging with Diaz. St-Pierre will play the Wrestling card and take Diaz down for 25 minutes, and the Stockton star isn't a Demian Maia-tyle of fighter that can pull of a surprising submission from any position. GSP defends his title via decision - again.
James Brydon (Sportsnet): Georges St-Pierre has never been more focused about beating an opponent, while Nick Diaz doesn't even seem to care whether he tests positive for marijuana. While Diaz's tricky boxing will present a challenge for the champ, St-Pierre is the smartest fighter in the UFC and obviously has the skills to back him up. Not only will he control Diaz like he has most of his opponents, I see GSP stopping him with some ground and pound in the fourth round. Here come those dreaded elbows, Nick.
Ian Bain (MMA Opinion): Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz is everything a title fight should be. The bad blood between these two has added a whole new level of interest and has made me excited for a St-Pierre fight for the first time since his fight with BJ Penn at UFC 94. I initially was a little dismayed at the UFC making this fight, especially with Nick coming off a loss and another suspension. However, this all changed last week when Nick Diaz and St-Pierre went at it on the conference call. On paper, St-Pierre has all of the tools to win this fight, he has the strong top game that has often been the thorn in Nick Diaz's side as well as a well balanced striking game to keep Nick guessing. It would be easy to say that this fight will end up similar to Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz in terms of a style clash, and it may, I however do believe that Nick will cause a threat off his back - even if it is just making it hard for Georges to mount any serious offense. As much as I would like to see Diaz win to spice up the 170 division at the top, I just can't see it happening at UFC 158 and for that reason I have to go with Georges by decision in an entertaining scrap.
Jason Moles: (Cage Potato): The title won't be leaving Canada anytime soon and certainly not at the hands of Nick Diaz. He may have the best boxing in the division. He may be a BJJ black belt. And he may even "break" Georges St. Pierre's psyche on Saturday night in Montreal, Quebec. But make no mistake about it; Diaz is no match for a champion the caliber of GSP. The lengthy suspension combined with the inability (unwillingness?) to keep cool when not standing & banging will prove to be downfall. St. Pierre's tactical, methodical game plan will prove victorious once again with controlled aggression and Octagon control taking point. Not even a "screwjob" can rip the gold from the French-Canadian's waist.
Jason Nawara (Middle Easy): Nick Diaz hasn't faced a 'good/great' wrestler in MMA since he lost his trio of fights in the UFC to Diego Sanchez/Joe Riggs and Sean Sherk back in the day. Diaz hasn't taken a year off from fighting for any reason since his career began in 2001, until last year. Nick Diaz can't stop the takedowns of GSP, and will probably be cut open from ruthless, Canadian ground and pound. It's going to be an uphill battle from the outset, one that will be near-impossible for Diaz to overcome...Diaz via 4th round TKO.
Adam Martin (Sportsnet): Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz is a battle between two high-level welterweights, albeit two of contrasting styles. In St-Pierre, you have a grinding wrestler who has great BJJ and ground and pound from the top, as well as solid striking. But in Diaz you have arguably the most effective boxer in MMA as well as a BJJ black belt who is extremely threatening from the bottom. It's an interesting fight, but ultimately I see the champion retaining the title with his relentless takedowns and ground and pound. Diaz is tough and this fight will likely go to decision, but do not be surprised if it ends with a late stoppage by St-Pierre, who hasn't been this fired up for a fight in years.
Karim Zidan (The Flying Knee): GSP vs. Diaz is a fight we have all been waiting to see for years now. While the timing may not be perfect with Nick coming off a loss, it is still an extremely intriguing match-up. Diaz may have managed to stimulate hype for UFC 158 with his unique style of trash talking but he has not managed to convince me that he is capable of beating the champ. Considering GSP is arguably the best MMA wrestler in the UFC and that Diaz's main weakness is his wrestling, this may very well turn into a bad night for the former Strikeforce champ. A smart gameplan would involve taking Diaz down repeatedly and dominating him on the ground and if Nick does not have an answer for the takedowns it would be hard to imagine him defeating Georges. St-Pierre via unanimous decision.
Media picking Georges St. Pierre: Eleven
Media picking Nick Diaz: One
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight night (Sat., March 16, 2013), starting with the Facebook and FX Prelims, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, as well as the main card, which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.
For more news and notes on the upcoming UFC 158 event click here.