The boo birds are out in force this week, trumpeting from the rooftops their belief that the UFC has a developing Georges St. Pierre problem.
Somehow, St. Pierre’s ridiculously dominant five-round performance over Jake Shields at UFC 129 – a man both the company and the champion had taken pains to cast as the biggest threat yet to his title reign – wasn’t good enough for a lot of people. Too conservative, they say. St. Pierre just isn’t fun to watch anymore. A few have gone as far as to argue that St. Pierre’s personal “brand” is taking a hit now that he’s racked up four straight decision victories, though 55,000 fans at Toronto’s Rogers Centre (many of them who appeared to have shelled out to buy replica versions of GSP’s white “Karate Kid” headband) might disagree with that.
Even if the criticism is a bit misguided though, the fact remains that — with a growing feeling of dissatisfaction in its fan base — the UFC is going to have to find something interesting to do with its welterweight champion. St. Pierre has now decimated six of the other nine fighters in the welterweight top 10 and at least two of the remaining candidates (Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit) aren’t ready for a shot at the gold.
Up until very recently, conventional wisdom said the champion had outgrown 170-pounds and that “something interesting” would be to have St. Pierre move up to middleweight to challenge the UFC’s other supremely dominant champion – Anderson Silva – in a superfight to determine the world’s consensus No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter. That sounds fun, but St. Pierre has been reluctant to leave welterweight behind, saying putting on the extra weight would make it impossible for him to return to his natural weight class.
With Zuffa, LLC’s recent acquisition of Strikeforce however, a new option has emerged: Just have GSP fight Nick Diaz.
It’s beautifully simple, actually. Diaz has been nearly as dominant in his admittedly smaller pond as St. Pierre has been in his Octagonal one. St. Pierre just defeated Diaz’s teammate (Shields) and Diaz has been pretty vocal recently in his complaints that Strikeforce doesn’t really have anyone for him to fight. There’s also the matter of their styles: Diaz might have an advantage over GSP in the standup and the submission skills to make things interesting on the ground. He’s also not the type of guy to let St. Pierre coast to another decision. The only sticking point could be making the contacts work, but with Zuffa now the rightful owner of Strikeforce, you have to believe the lawyers will be able to figure it out.
Seems like a great idea, right? Well, there is – of course – a problem. That problem, as it almost always is, is Nick Diaz.
Diaz has been so disgruntled with Strikeforce that after his most recent title defense against Paul Daley last month he threatened to quit the sport entirely. At the very least, Diaz has talked of taking some time away from MMA to pursue a big-money boxing match this summer. Former champion Jeff Lacy has even been mentioned as a possible opponent.
Naturally, the bigwigs at Zuffa have a vested interest in making sure that doesn’t happen. Word is, Dana White will fly to Stockton, Calif., this week to meet with Diaz to see if there is “anything he can do” to make the notorious malcontent “happy.”
You can bet he’ll have an awfully big bargaining chip stashed in his pocket: A possible fight with St. Pierre.
For more MMA ramblings, follow Chad Dundas on Twitter:www.twitter.com/chaddundas