I am a huge GSP fan, and I have been awaiting this match up for some time. It is finally here and I for one am stoked. So much fuel has been thrown onto the fire of the long-awaited showdown between reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Georges St. Pierre and former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. The contrasting personalities that verbally sparred on the teleconference foreshadow clear stylistic differences between the two highly skilled and physically fit fighters. The incumbent is a tireless technician who excels across the board in skill metrics -- a true mixed martial artist. The challenger is a bold and dangerous striker-grappler, whose brawler mentality belies a sophisticated, multi-pronged attack. The fight for which fans have been calling for years will finally go down at UFC 158 on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Starting at the beginning of the Tale of Tape, we see two fighters in the range of their physical peaks, with not much of an age difference. Though St. Pierre has a slightly longer reach, but Diaz counters by being a natural left-hander. Over the years, however, St. Pierre has effectively learned to switch stances, depending on the opponent and strategy. Though slightly younger, Diaz has the longer and more diverse fighting career, including a win in the boxing ring in 2005.
The biggest differentials here are Diaz’s finish rate and layoff. Diaz is a finisher, by strikes or submission; he is a dangerous competitor who hates hearing the judges’ scorecards as much as UFC President Dana White. However, some may argue that the quality of his opponents has been lower than St. Pierre’s, given that more of Diaz’s career was spent in other promotions. Perhaps his finishing instinct will be less effective at the highest levels of the fight game.
In contrast to his last fight, St. Pierre is now the more current competitor after defeating Carlos Condit less than four months ago. Diaz, on the other hand, is coming off of a loss and a suspension that has kept him out of competition since his own five-round fight with Condit way back in early February 2012, more than one year ago. Conditioning does not appear to be a problem for Diaz, however, as he competes in endurance sports recreationally and has been highly motivated training for this fight. Still, it does raise questions about how long it will take for him to get comfortable again in the cage. In his prior fight with Condit, Diaz struggled with his opponent’s long-range fighting style and was only successful closing the distance late in the bout. Against St. Pierre, he will need to figure out a game plan quickly in order to avoid succumbing to the champion’s notoriously methodical, bell-to-bell style.