Two of the best welterweights on the planet settled their grudge (for now) last night (March 16, 2013) as UFC 170 pound champion Georges St. Pierre defended his title against Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 158 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Everyone had been talking about GSP's "dark side" before the fight and whether or not all the trash talk Diaz had done and his antics would bring out something different in the efficient and relatively risk-averse champ.
They thought wrong.
St. Pierre made no bones about his gameplan, throwing two kicks to Diaz's leg and then immediately following it up with a takedown after Diaz threw his first punch. GSP showed no concern for Diaz's vaunted ground game, posturing up and raining down punches and elbows from within his guard.
In what would become a common theme throughout the fight, St. Pierre would remain on top of Diaz as the Stockton slugger turtled looking for an escape path back to his feet, continuing to rain down short punches and remaining plenty active enough to avoid a stand-up.
A visibly frustrated Diaz swung at St. Pierre after the bell, which drew some "F*** you Diaz" chants from the raucous crowd.
As both men returned to their feet, St. Pierre continued to look for the leg kick and began to pop Diaz with his jab every time he moved forward aggressively. When Diaz finally got frustrated and threw a heavy right hand, he ducked it and the fight went straight to the ground.
Diaz tried to force scrambles on the ground, but this only opened up opportunities for St. Pierre to drop punches, and unload a heavy knee to the body. St. Pierre would grab a body lock every time Diaz tried to roll to safety and would just drag him back to the ground with his pure strength advantage.
Even when Diaz finally did get to his feet, he was just popped with a superman jab every time he'd try to taunt the champion.
Diaz found his best success in the fourth and fifth rounds as St. Pierre's takedowns didn't quite have as much zip on them and he fended off a few of them. During striking exchanges, St. Pierre's jab was still his best attack, but when Diaz was able to get inside, he finally started throwing some combinations and flurries to the body to finally get some significant offense in.
The clinch was Diaz's friend here and he landed some nice inside punches, uppercuts and knees from there, but even with over half the fourth round taking place on the feet, Diaz got himself bloodied in a relatively even stand-up duration before being dragged to the canvas again and controlled.
Diaz tried to pour it on early in the fifth, but the jab of St. Pierre continued to stop him in his tracks. Both men traded knees on the inside but a head kick attempt from Diaz forced a slip and allowed St. Pierre to take top position without even having to shoot in.
Just for good measure, after Diaz escaped to his feet, St. Pierre shot in for a double leg and dumped the challenger on teh ground, dropping punches and elbows until the bout was concluded and while Diaz may not have enjoyed the fight, both men raised each other's arms when it was all over.
In what was not a big surprise, St. Pierre took all five rounds for a unanimous decision victory, much to the hometown crowd's delight.
For Nick Diaz, he didn't really start to get anything going until the fourth and fifth rounds. It's not easy to win a fight when you give away the first three frames and that's exactly what he did. St. Pierre didn't have his normal explosion with his takedowns yesterday and Diaz still had trouble fending them off until the later stages of the fight. On the feet, he was uncharacteristically wild with his hooks and walked right into St. Pierre's jab time and time again. The clinch was his friend and he did land some decent damage from there with uppercuts and knees, but it wasn't nearly enough to make up for all the negative. Despite his vaunted ground game, he couldn't sweep or even put St. Pierre in a perilous position with a submission attempt and was only able to use it to try to force scrambles, which he usually lost to the more physically imposing champion.
You never know with Diaz, so assuming he doesn't test positive for anything and doesn't retire, the most logical opponent for him would be Martin Kampmann. Other potential suitors include Nate Marquardt or even a rematch against Carlos Condit as both men are now coming off two decision losses.
For Georges St. Pierre, while he didn't bring the pain the way many fans were hoping, he was still his reliable effective self. On the feet, he kept it even by repeatedly scoring with that beautiful jab of his, although he rarely followed up with a big power punch despite the opening Diaz was presenting. His bread and butter was not only his takedowns but also his complete dominance of the top position despite all the rolling and scrambling Diaz tried to do. "Rush" did a terrific job of staying right with him and make sure Diaz stayed on bottom no matter what he tried to initiate.
I'm not sure why, but St. Pierre was definitely lacking in explosion with his takedowns, so that's something to keep an eye on moving forward, but in terms of control and scrambling, he was still king by a landslide and he did a solid job of staying on Diaz with punches and elbows in the middle of every transition just to remind him who was boss in this fight.
Next up for St. Pierre has to be Johny Hendricks, who scored his fourth straight win over a top 10 opponent and it will be interesting to see how the champion deals with a multiple time national champion wrestler with serious punching power.