The announcement that Georges St. Pierre would defend his welterweight title against Nick Diaz at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada, was met with glee and a fast-rising anticipation for this upcoming Halloween weekend.
It will mark the first crossover superfight of its kind, the first time a Strikeforce fighter, let alone champion, will jump promotions for a fight since the Zuffa buyout back in March.
But is it really worth all the hype it's about to receive?
My first thought upon hearing the announcement was excitement. Not because I particularly like the match-up (I don't), but because UFC found a way to book St. Pierre against his most credible challenger.
That doesn't mean it's going to be a competitive fight ... at all.
Quite the opposite, in fact. "Rush" is likely going to run through Mrs. Diaz's baby boy, emphatically putting the stamp on his dominance of the 170-pound division.
That got me thinking. Of all the potential crossover superfights pitting UFC champion against Strikeforce champion, which would I like to see the most and how would they look if they went down?
So I went about rating each fight on two scales: Competitiveness and Interest level. The ratings are 1 to 10, the lower the number the worse the rating and vice versa.
I use these extremely scientific ratings to help determine the outcome of each fight but don't base it on that entirely. This is high level stuff, Maniacs, so try to keep up.
In we go:
Big Trouble in Little Stockton: Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Competitiveness -- 2: This is easily the least competitive contest of the five prospective bouts. It's not that Diaz doesn't have an avenue to victory -- he does. It's that St. Pierre is far too efficient in his chosen craft. If you thought what Clay Guida did to Anthony Pettis was lay-n-pray, you might as well bring a pillow with your popcorn on Oct. 29, because this is going to look remarkably similar. Only Diaz will look far less dangerous off his back against GSP than "Showtime" did against "The Carpenter." The easiest way to fully grasp how uncompetitive this fight will be is to consider the fact that the best chance Diaz has to win comes in the weeks leading up to it and not the actual fight itself. If he can manage to get inside the French-Canadian's head and throw him off his game to the point of recklessness, he might stand a chance. Doubt it.
Interest level -- 7: Why? Because St. Pierre will finally be taking on a fighter that will get straight in his face and flip him the bird. I actually hope Diaz does exactly that, the same way he did to an oblivious Frank Shamrock in 2009. That picture, of Shamrock with a smile on his face and extending his hand for a shake only to be met by Diaz snidely saluting him with a middle finger, is the embodiment of what the kid from Stockton represents. He went out and backed that up against Shammy, too, finishing him in the second round. The Internet would explode if he did the same to St. Pierre and his best chance at making that happen is to get straight in the champion's face and tell him he's going to stick that UFC belt where the sun don't shine ... and he doesn't mean Canada.
Outcome -- St. Pierre via unanimous decision: Sadly, even if Diaz does all of the above, he's probably still going to get tossed around the cage like a two-dollar toy from your local WalMart in the hands of a pissed off child. Which is to say, he'll hold up for a short time before breaking down and withering away in front of an increasingly disinterested audience. Sorry, Stockton, ya boy is coming home without the gold.
Competitiveness -- 8: This fight is as close to dead even as possible. After watching Edgar zombie his way through so many big shots from Gray Maynard at UFC 125, I wonder if Melendez, who recently obliterated Tatsuya Kawajiri with vicious punches and elbows, could even phase him. Then again, "El Nino" has never been finished in his career, either. These two are both 29-years-old, equally experienced and are both wrestlers that have honed their stand-up skills to elite levels. Edgar likely has an edge in speed and footwork but not by much. Melendez is probably better at dictating tempo and controlling where the fight takes place, which is a major advantage in close fights. Of course, the better resume belongs to Edgar if for nothing else, his consecutive and increasingly impressive victories over B.J. Penn. That's not to say Gil has been blasting through scrubs -- not in the slightest; but Frankie's career wins list reads like a who's who of the 155-pound division. This is literally almost a coin flip.
Interest level -- 8: What's not to be interested in? Imagine Melendez in the place of the previously mentioned Maynard, who is currently embroiled in a three-part war with Edgar to settle who is truly the better of the two. The problem? No one really cares what the answer to that question will ultimately be. Substitute the Strikeforce lightweight champ and it could be one of the most memorable trilogies in the history of the entire sport. Edgar is also afflicted with the dreaded promotional disorder known as "stiffasaboarditis," meaning he'll need a strong, colorful challenger to drive interest. Melendez provides that ... and more.
Outcome -- Edgar via unanimous decision: Even a coin flip isn't truly a 50-50 proposition and I'm inclined to believe the side will more often than not show the kid from New Jersey. Again, I defer to his gusto and game planning against B.J. Penn and gritty grinding against Maynard in their rematch. The passboard runs on statistics and "The Answer" has the better track record. His shuck and jive act will work well enough to earn him three rounds on at least two judges scorecards. It would be close as all hell, but Edgar wins.
Competitiveness -- 4: Instead of asking how competitive this fight would be, it seems prudent to make a case for how exactly it wouldn't be a blowout. Jones is a prodigy, blessed with a unique mix of size, strength and natural abilities that combine to make him a certifiable killing machine. His wingspan measures at an ungodly 84.5 inches. He's dynamic with a growing skill-set anchored by a strong wrestling base. Hard to beat that. Henderson has a couple things going for him, though. An iron chin (that may or may not be fading with age), a wrestling game adaptable for larger guys and big, big power behind his punches. His biggest weakness doubles as his greatest strength. "Hendo's" right hand has ended many a night for those that have been unable to avoid it. Have we seen anyone truly test "Bones's" chin? Not yet but I'm unconvinced "Hollywood" would be the guy to do it. But the image of Henderson landing that shot on Jones, like he did against Michael Bisping, is enough to say this wouldn't be a complete destruction.
Interest level -- 4: When Jones fought Mauricio Rua, it was billed largely as the youth movement launching a full scale attack on the old guard. For as experienced and well-traveled as he is, though, we conveniently forget that "Shogun" hasn't even been on Earth for three decades. Henderson, on the other hand, turned the big 4-0 last year. How is this a good thing? The age itself is not, the veteran moves that come with such a lengthy run in the game is. It's precisely what would make this fight worthwhile. The very fact that "Hendo" has a chance, small as it may be, is enough to make it intriguing.
Outcome -- Jones via technical knockout in round three: I'd like to think Henderson could find a way to stay off the cage and find his range en route to dropping an H-bomb on Jones' face, but I just can't see it. Greg Jackson wouldn't let his mega-meal ticket get his face caved in and Jones follows direction too well go against his corner's wishes and circle straight into his opponent's power hand like a certain someone whose soul is still floating around the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Much like the previously mentioned fight against Rua, Jones would systematically break Henderson down and sap his energy for a couple rounds before finishing him off.
Competitiveness -- 5: You know what the greatest threat to a "Spider" is? Another spider. When the rolling gets tough and food is scarce, they have no problem turning against one another in search of pray. That's kind of how I picture this fight. Silva has all but run out of credible challengers and, no different than Georges St. Pierre, he needs to either look outside his weight class or outside his promotion. Sure, he's fighting Yushin Okami at UFC 134 but guess what? SPOILER ALERT -- he's going to win ... easily ... again. It's long been believed a dominant wrestler would be necessary to dethrone Silva, but I'm not so sure. I mean, yeah, it would help to possess those skills but what about a jiu-jitsu player who is hyper aggressive in search of the submission but is also serviceable on his feet and is a better overall grappler than Silva? Sounds like a guy built to knock the king off his throne, no? Well, that's "Jacare" Souza. So why was this fight given a 5 on the highly technical competitiveness scale? Because Anderson has too much in common with DJ Khaled. Silva is to the camel spider as Souza is to the scorpion (cool vid, kind of graphic, though).
Interest level -- 6: Because who wouldn't want to watch two badass spiders get after each other? You know damn well you clicked the link to watch the camel spider vs. the scorpion. And if you didn't, you're doing so now. No? Okay, how about now? ... Fine. Either way, there's plenty of intrigue here based on the fact that Silva has no one left to fight in UFC. I'm legitimately more fascinated with this prospective match-up than I am with anything he could take otherwise. It might be a tough sell, considering Souza's about as visible right now as the Hollow Man but he would get the rub from locking horns with the pound-for-pound king. Oh, and he has a good a chance as anyone, at middleweight at least, of actually pulling off the upset. Sold.
Outcome -- Silva via knockout in round two: Having a chance and actually executing are two entirely different things. For Souza to work to his strengths, he needs to figure out a way to get in on Silva for a takedown. That takes timing, of which he's at an extreme disadvantage, and presence of positioning, of which he probably comes out ahead, but also an ability to escape punishment on the way to achieving his goal of a takedown. That's where the issue is. I'm begging you not to bring up Chael Sonnen in regards to Silva's wrestling. I'm convinced he was letting Chael take him down because he wanted to finish him on the floor ... just like he did. Sonnen also ate some serious knuckle sandwiches on his way in, credit to him for withstanding them. "Jacare" would not.
Competitiveness -- 9: Find me a weakness in Cain Velasquez. Maybe now that he's had serious shoulder surgery, his durability could be called into question. His striking, while crisp and efficient, is slightly vulnerable. But that might be the extent of it. His wrestling is disgustingly strong, his gas tank is bottomless and his previously thought of pillow fists have been reconstructed and refilled with concrete. Dude is a beast. Speaking of beasts, meet Alistair Overeem, chief K-1 ass-kicker and horse meat connoisseur. He makes me think of a Centaur, built like a brick shithouse with dynamite fists and incredibly strong legs. He's also got a guillotine that could tear a man's head clean off his body. We're talking Lex Luger here, ladies and gents; he's the total package. His weakness, though, just might be the exact thing to cost him in a fight against Velasquez -- his wrestling. Frank Mir thinks "The Reem" wouldn't do so hot if he came over to the UFC heavyweight division because it's full of bulls that charge through foes in red. He's speaking from experience of course, so let's keep that in mind. Of course, the flip side to the coin is that old "Brown Pride's" chin isn't exactly untouchable -- ask Cheick Kongo. To that end, Overeem >>>>> Kongo.
Interest level -- 10: With a competitive layout like that, how in the blue hell could you not get up for this fight? In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I do not believe in bias free reporting. Not that this is a report but I might as well let it be known that if I was an admitted fan of any fighter, it would be the "Demolition Man." There's just something about him that I can't help but be captivated by. That's part of the reason interest in this fight is a 10, for me, at least. But even when you take that out of the equation, or at least attempt to, this scrap has epic written all over it. Velasquez never stops pushing forward and Overeem is an indestructible machine. Two goliath heavyweights colliding in the center of the Octagon with everything on the line. You're heart isn't pumping a lot harder than it was a minute ago? Mine is ... big time.
Outcome -- Overeem via knockout in round four: My little confession of fandom for "The Reem" probably already gave this away but I'm seeing an absolutely legendary back-and-forth struggle before Overeem eventually overcomes and overwhelms Velasquez in the fourth frame. Cain will rush in one too many times and he'll get the jackhammer put to his mandible. It'll crack and then Alistair will crush it into powder and dust. Lights out, good night, thanks for coming, folks.
There you have it, Maniacs, in all its glory. Agree? Disagree? Outraged? Confounded? Befuddled? Adjective six?
Let me have it in the comments. I didn't hold back ... I hope you don't either.