Sunday, May 22, 2011

Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz -- FIGHT!

It seems increasingly likely that Georges St-Pierre is going to fight Nick Diaz, probably in Montreal, probably in December. While part of me would like GSP to go up to middleweight (not just for Anderson Silva, but because he needs new people to fight, generally), I like the idea of GSP-Diaz, too, because fuck Nick Diaz. He's a jerk. I generally root for Californians, and Diaz is Cali to the bone, but he's such a jerk I can't do that.

It is also looking like there's a grudge happening between GSP's gym, Tri-Star in Montreal, and the Cesar Gracie camp in Stockton, CA. In UFC 129, Tri-Star's Rory MacDonald defeated Cesar Gracie's Nate Diaz (younger brother to Nick). The same night, a mostly blind GSP defeated cheating bastard Jake Shields. (C'mon, Jake? Five eye pokes in one fight? You should be fuckin' fired. But, hey, I guess your buddy Chuck Liddell covered for you.) And it seems probable that GSP will be fighting Diaz, next. I guess the UFC has decided that Tri-Star needs to clear out Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

I don't think Nick has much of a chance. (Neither do the bookmakers. The odds are about 7 to 2 in GSP's favor, right now.) When Diaz fights guys with good takedowns, his high volume punching skills degrade because his footwork changes. He has to try to defend takedowns, so he can't put his feet in the right way to keep up his volume punching. Additionally, GSP is faster and has a longer reach, so Diaz's normal tactic of pitter-patting a fighter on the way in won't work with GSP. GSP also has great disengages -- it's like teleportation, a guy tries to punch him and he'll be across the ring, it's beautiful to watch and GSP is one of the most elusive fighters in MMA, right now. (I believe he is the most elusive fighter actually fighting, with the possible exception of Lyoto Machida.) GSP will snap out with that jab like an iron bar that destroyed Koscheck's face, or lunging overhand rights, to set up spinning body kicks while looking for the roundhouse kick to the head. If Diaz adjusts his footwork for a lot of punches and GSP doesn't want to engage and disengage (which he might, he has liked to defeat people where they're strong in the past), he'll just take Diaz down.

Indeed, there is probably no condition under which Diaz won't be taken down by GSP if GSP wants to take Diaz down. And there is no condition under which Diaz will be able to take GSP down. No one has been able to dominate GSP on the ground. Not Matt Hughes, not Josh Koscheck, not Jon Fitch. If GSP can dominate Hughes, Kos and Fitch on the ground, I don't think anyone doubts that Diaz will be easy. GSP hasn't been in any threat of submission for half a decade against better submission artists than Diaz.

GSP will also have a massive advantage in physical strength. He's probably the strongest welterweight in the world (with the possible exception of Thiago Alves). He's stronger than all middleweights with the exception, perhaps, of Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen.

(In terms of endurance, they're probably equal. I gotta give Diaz's conditioning credit. If it goes to the later rounds, it will be as hard fought in the fifth as the first. Both men are machines.)

So, how can Diaz win? Diaz needs to work on engaging, he needs to press the fight, cut off GSP and land precision shots. He also can't let it go to the ground, he needs to work on his takedown defense.

Will it be enough? Probably not. GSP has really good evasions, he's got speed, strength and reach. GSP was equal to Thiago Alves on his feet when GSP had a pulled groin muscle. Still, that's probably Nick's best shot. He is a high skilled, well-rounded fighter and if he can keep it standing and cut off GSP, he has a chance.

For me, the good thing is . . . this will be the first fighter in a long time that won't be frightened of GSP. Diaz won't work on his footwork to cut off GSP. He'll press forward, basically offering his head to GSP, like he does to everyone else. And when GSP bangs him up, Diaz will keep offering it. I think that will make the fight exciting, rather than the line of timid fighters GSP has had to deal with since obliterating BJ Penn.

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