Diaz showed in beating B.J. Penn on Saturday night at UFC 137 that he's the best man to fight St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title, and there's no reason for the UFC to wait to book that fight. Sorry, Carlos Condit, but Diaz vs. GSP is the fight to make.
Obviously, the UFC knows that, because UFC President Dana White announced after UFC 137 that Diaz-GSP is happening next. This is a great development for those of us who think GSP has grown too comfortable over the last couple of years. Stylistically, Diaz is the welterweight who can give St. Pierre the most problems: Diaz's high-volume striking style could frustrate St. Pierre in much the same way it frustrated Penn on Saturday night, and Diaz is good enough off his back that St. Pierre won't be able to simply take him down and dominate him on the ground.
Diaz was smart to call out St. Pierre immediately following the fight, accusing St. Pierre of being scared to fight him. The reality, of course, is that St. Pierre is a tremendous fighter who wouldn't be afraid of anyone, but it worked: UFC announcer Joe Rogan reported that St. Pierre was begging White after the fight to let him get a shot at Diaz, and before the night was over White made the call that Diaz would get the title shot.
The only reason not to book GSP vs. Diaz right now is that it would be unfair to Condit, who had been promised the next shot at the welterweight belt. White said Condit "agreed to step aside," although I'm guessing White didn't give Condit much choice. Condit has been nothing but a great fighter in the cage and a classy guy outside the cage, and it's a shame that giving Diaz the next fight essentially means punishing Condit even though Condit did nothing wrong.
But those are the breaks of the fight game. The UFC needs to make the best fights, and right now the best welterweight fight it can make is Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz.
UFC 137 Notes
-- Two legends of the sport, Mirko Cro Cop and B.J. Penn, said after their UFC 137 losses that they're going to retire. For Cro Cop, I think that's entirely appropriate: He's 37 years old and hasn't had a really big win since he beat Josh Barnett in the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix more than five years ago. For Penn, I think he'll reconsider: He's only 32 and can still compete with the best in the world at both lightweight and welterweight.
-- Brandon Vera probably saved his job in the UFC by refusing to tap out to Eliot Marshall's arm bar in the closing seconds of their preliminary fight. If Vera had lost to Marshall, he almost certainly would have been cut, but his unanimous decision victory will earn him another fight inside the Octagon. Vera suffered a serious enough arm injury that he wasn't able to have his hand raised, but he gutted out a tough win.
-- Good for UFC announcer Joe Rogan for mentioning Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, who was in the corner of Scott Jorgensen, and good for the UFC's production people for showing Warren talking to Jorgensen between rounds. The easier thing for the UFC to do would simply be to pretend that Bellator doesn't exist, but it's to the UFC's credit that they're willing to mention fighters from other promotions.
UFC 137 Quotes
-- "Oh, my God, it's a dream come true. ... I think I broke both my hands, but it was so worth it." -- Bart Palaszewski after knocking out Tyson Griffin.
-- "Even though we are in a tough situation, Japanese MMA is not dead." -- Hatsu Hioki after his split-decision win over George Roop.
-- I love that one judge gave Ramsey Nijem a 30-25 scorecard in his unanimous decision victory over Danny Downes. Nijem completely dominated the fight, and Downes did next to nothing, and giving Nijem a couple of 10-8 rounds was completely appropriate. We don't see 10-8 rounds as often as we should, and we hardly ever see 30-25 scorecards at all. Kudos to the judge (whose name wasn't read) who recognized how thoroughly Nijem had whipped Downes.
-- In hindsight, the decision to get the card started with Dustin Jacoby vs. Clifford Starks was a mistake: The two fighters were making their UFC debuts, both men looked nervous and tentative, and it turned out to be a thoroughly dull 15-minute affair. Starks won 30-27 on all three judges' cards and did just enough to earn another UFC fight, while Jacoby will surely be cut. This was not a good fight at all, and it got the night off to a terribly slow start.
-- Donald Cerrone is now 4-0 in the UFC in 2011, and he said after beating Dennis Siver that he's hoping to get a fight in December. If he gets that fight and wins it, a 5-0 calendar year would be a truly extraordinary achievement -- that hardly ever happens in the modern UFC.
-- Tyson Griffin is a fan favorite who's won the Fight of the Night award five times in his UFC career, but he probably doesn't have a place on the UFC roster after his knockout loss to Bart Palaszewski. Griffin moved down to featherweight because he lost three in a row at lightweight. Now he has a loss at featherweight -- and he failed to make weight for this one. He'd be a natural fit for Bellator.
Fight I Want To See Next
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre. Dana White made the right decision to make it happen.