Georges St-Pierre: Nick Diaz was rightful No. 1 contender over Johny Hendricks

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

When you're a long-reigning champ with box-office clout like Georges St-Pierre, you mostly get what you ask for, even if you ask to fight someone below the man almost universally considered to be the welterweight division's No. 1 contender.

For most observers of the sport, that spot has been most recently inhabited by Johny Hendricks, based largely upon his 9-1 UFC record and a five-fight win streak, which included knockouts of T.J. Waldburger, Jon Fitch and most recently Martin Kampmann. But his run has also included two split-decisions, including a close May fight with Josh Koscheck. And that, apparently, has tinged St-Pierre view of Hendricks.

Partly because of the history between him and Diaz, partly because of Diaz's lengthy run of success, and partly because he felt Hendricks deserved a loss on his resume against Koscheck, St-Pierre felt more interest in fighting Diaz.

"According to me, I believe Josh Koscheck should have won the fight, so I didn't want to fight a guy that lost [to] a guy that I beat," he said at a Wednesday press conference at the Bell Centre in Montreal. "And I think for me, Nick Diaz is the No. 1 contender. He's proven himself many times before. There’s a story between us. It's a big fight everybody wants to see. Nick wanted to have that fight for a long time, I wanted that fight for a long time. Now it’s time to do it. When it's time to do it, you have to take the opportunity to do it."

Hendricks has been lobbying for a chance to fight St-Pierre since that victory over Koscheck.

Instead, he'll have to settle for a bout with Jake Ellenberger, a fight that will take place on the same night as St-Pierre vs. Diaz.

The good news? With a win, Hendricks is very likely to get the opportunity he's been chasing. Whether St-Pierre holds on to the belt or Diaz upsets him, Hendricks is likely to get the next crack at gold.

At least he'll have St-Pierre's words to provide some extra motivation.

"I truly believe [Nick] is the No. 1 contender," St-Pierre said. "I believe he’s the man to beat in my division. I want to be a champion. I want to fight the best guy. I don't want to fight the No. 3. I want to fight the guy who's ranked the best. And I believe the best right now is Nick Diaz. That's truly what I believe."

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