Saturday night came and Saturday night went and once again nothing at the top of the top of the 170-pound food chain has changed. UFC 158’s main event between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz went exactly as most MMA insiders expected. As the fight progressed, we asked ourselves why we thought anything would be different come Sunday morning. Perhaps it was all the hype talk between these two gentlemen, or the “wolf” tickets we were tricked into purchasing or the “wolf” pay-per-view in my case. In any case, the facts are what they are, all three officials judging last night’s main event scored the bout 50-45 for St Pierre, which clearly means Diaz didn’t even win one round. Therefore it goes without saying that Diaz’s plea for a rematch will most certainly fall on deaf ears, to fans, to Diaz supporters and to the person who matters the most, Dana White. Looking at the nights undercard though, we witnessed a new potential challenger emerge in the always game Jake Ellenberger and the consensus number one contender Johny Hendricks solidify his position as the next in line at the welterweight title. Perhaps GSP’s time away from action was a blessing in disguise for his division, when once there was lesser opposition like Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves, now there’s heavy-handed wrestlers like Ellenberger and Hendricks gleefully lining up to get a crack at the title. And let us not forget the currently injured Rory MacDonald and the newest face in the division, Strikeforce import Jordan Mein. After all that being said, let’s take a look at what’s next for both St-Pierre and Diaz.
Starting with St-Pierre, the answer is obvious, “Bigg Rigg”. In White’s words “Done, no doubt about it”. Hendricks defeated number two UFC ranked welterweight Carlos Condit in route to a unanimous decision. If the case for Hendricks to be next in line for the title was ever in doubt prior to last night, it shouldn’t be any longer. Using a strategic mix of heavy left hands and tiring takedowns, Hendricks fought nearly the perfect fight against Condit. I say nearly because he didn’t come away unscathed. Needless to say, GSP has his schedule filled for the rest of the year and it starts with Hendricks.
We move on to Diaz now. What can be said about Nick? After being given a second, albeit undeserved chance at GSP’s title, Diaz’s glaring weakness was never more present than it was last night. GSP took Diaz down at will and at times with less than text-book execution. GSP basically hunched over, “shot in” and got the takedown almost every time, without changing his levels and barely driving forward. And in all fairness, why should he have? It’s not like Diaz learned any takedown defense in his years away the octagon. His title defenses in Strikeforce were graphic examples of how much Diaz was protected by powers that be within the promotion. Understandably so, a strong wrestler like Tyron Woodley was all but ostracized when talks of potential title contenders for Diaz were the subject of meetings. Truth be told, Woodley would have devoured Diaz with takedowns alone. Taking the UFC’s more dominant high profile “fun fights” approach into consideration, should Diaz not retire, there are definitely a few of those kinds of fights in the UFC for Diaz. Maybe not necessarily high profile fights, but certainly fun fights. Fighters like Strikeforce new comer Bobby Volker or recent wrestling amnesiac Nate Marquardt. Believe it or not, it took me a couple minutes to think of those two fighters because just about every UFC welterweight has a grappling oriented background. So if Diaz decides to retire, then I’d like to thank Diaz for memorable fights and often comical interview dialogue. He’ll go down as one of the all-action, come forward, throwback type of fighter. Perhaps a few more fights against opponents like Patrick Cote and a few “Fight of the Night” awards and he could ride off into the sunset. He’s made his name; he’s been a champion and fought the best in the world. Sounds like a resume to be proud of.