Four weeks have passed since Nick Diaz put a beating on B.J. Penn and called out UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
“I don’t think Georges is hurt. I think he’s scared,” Diaz said in the octagon, referencing St. Pierre pulling out of his title defence against Carlos Condit due to a knee injury.
At the UFC 137 post-fight press conference, company president Dana White claimed St. Pierre was so enraged he demanded to face Diaz instead of Condit.
But according to the champ, he wasn’t bothered at all by Diaz’s comments.
“He did very well (against Penn),” St. Pierre told QMI Agency while in Toronto for an autograph session. “He’s the No. 1 contender and he deserves a shot. I’m very happy to fight him.
“It’s always been the fight I’ve wanted to have. They only thing is he did not show up at the press conference ... so the fight got cancelled — not because of me, but because of him and what he had done. But me, I wanted to fight him.
“He wanted to have a title fight and he got it. (Calling me out is) the best way to do it and it’s not personal.”
Of course, the way White tells it, a fired up St. Pierre vowed to put the worst beating ever seen in the octagon on the former Strikeforce welterweight champion. As a result, he scheduled the two for the main event of UFC 143 in Las Vegas on Feb. 4.
If White’s account is accurate, you can’t blame St. Pierre for calming down and putting on his game face. After all, the trash talk will continue even after the cage door shuts.
But if Diaz wants to get under St. Pierre’s skin, he better start taking French lessons.
“I’ve seen it all from everyone before,” St. Pierre said. “If they’re trying to get into my head and make me fight a bad fight, it’s just mind games and it doesn’t work.”
“I don’t even understand (or) speak English very well. I don’t understand most of the things that (Diaz) says when he trash talks. I don’t really care.
“I’m just going to focus on hurting him.”
In the past, Diaz’s Kryptonite has always been talented wrestlers who were able to stay on top and successfully defend against submission attempts en route to decision victories. St. Pierre could easily opt to follow a similar game plan.
Despite his stellar record, he has been criticized for not finishing an opponent in almost three years. St. Pierre knows that brutalizing a fighter the level of Diaz is one way to silence his detractors.
But stopping Diaz is an incredibly tall order. In 34 MMA fights, he’s only been finished twice.
The first was a TKO loss to Jeremy Jackson in his fifth pro bout. He would go on to beat Jackson via TKO and submission in their next two encounters. In his last loss four years ago, a deep cut cost him his fight against K.J. Noons. He later avenged the defeat at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons 2 on Oct. 9, 2010.
Despite Diaz’s reputation for having an iron jaw and unbelievable conditioning, St. Pierre feels he can knock him out.
“If I hit him well, he’s going to fall,” St. Pierre said. “He’s a human being. He’s not different than anyone else.
“(But) he’s got good boxing and great at Brazilian jiu jitsu. It’s going to be a good fight.”
Following the announcement that Diaz would be getting the next title shot, Condit admitted he was upset with St. Pierre for demanding the fight. He’s now expected to meet Josh Koscheck the same night St. Pierre defends his belt.
Though the two both train under coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, they haven’t discussed the incident.
“I haven’t spoken to Carlos, but he’s going to have a title fight after Diaz,” St. Pierre said. “I know he’s mad. If I were in that situation, I would have been mad as well.
“But in the first place it was always Diaz. He was supposed to have the shot.
“I want to be the best champion I can be and fight the best guys.”
HENDERSON-RUA WAS NOT ‘THE GREATEST’
UFC president Dana White, B.J. Penn and yours truly are among those who have called the UFC 139 main event between Dan Henderson and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua the greatest fight in UFC history.
But welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre sees it differently.
“I didn’t see the fight (live); I saw it after,” St. Pierre told QMI Agency. “No, for me, it was not the greatest fight. It was a fight that displayed a lot of determination and heart, but I believe on the technical points, especially at the end of the fight, the guys were too tired to be able to make a display of technique. But it was an interesting fight for a lot of the fans because ... it showed a lot of heart and courage.”
When pressed for his favourite fight, St. Pierre said he really enjoyed the recent scrap between Clay Guida and Benson Henderson.
“In the UFC? I don’t know; Clay Guida’s fight with Benson Henderson was pretty good. That was a good fight. It was a display of courage, determination and technique, as well. So they had everything in one (fight). At the end of the fight, they were still able to deliver and the pace was high.”