UFC 158 boasts good vs. evil storyline

The SportsXchange

Ever wonder what would happen if you took a pro wrestling-style "good vs. evil" storyline, only to have it pay off with a real fight instead of a staged performance?

You'll have your answer on Saturday night.

Georges St-Pierre defends his UFC welterweight title against Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 158 at the Bell Centre in the champion's hometown of Montreal.

St-Pierre (23-2) is the UFC's white-bread poster boy, whose squeaky-clean image has transcended the rough-and-tumble world of mixed martial arts and earned endorsements from mainstream sponsors like Gatorade and UnderArmour.

Diaz (26-8, 1 no-contest) is MMA's ultimate anti-authority figure.

The native of hardscrabble Stockton, Calif., wears his street roots like a badge of honor and has two Nevada Athletic Commission suspensions for testing positive for marijuana under his belt.

The brash-talking Diaz appears to have rattled the usually unflappable St-Pierre during fight week. Diaz blew off Wednesday's public workout session in Montreal. Thursday, he went after St-Pierre's claims that he studied karate as a child because he was bullied in school, contrasting it with his own upbringing.

"Has anyone ever put a gun to your head, Georges?" Diaz taunted during a Bell Centre press conference. "How many of your best friends been shot through the chest with a .45?" ... How many kids put gum in your hair growing up?"

A visibly annoyed St-Pierre shot back "Do you really think I'm afraid of you, man? What is going on in your head?" before slamming his mic off the dais.

None of this would matter if both weren't also elite fighters.

St-Pierre has held the welterweight title since April, 2008, making him the second-longest-reigning champion in UFC history (behind current middleweight champion Anderson Silva). He's won 10 consecutive fights and 16 of 17 dating back to 2004. Diaz, meanwhile, is the former champion of the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion and has won 11 of his past 12.

But even the simple making of this fight came with controversy.

Diaz lost his most recent bout, a decision against Carlos Condit in Las Vegas in Feb. 2012, after which he was suspended a year by Nevada for his second failed drug test. Many observers felt 14-1 Johny Hendricks, who meets Condit in Saturday's co-feature bout, deserved the championship fight.

Not only is Diaz getting the title shot after the loss and suspension, he won't even promise he'll pass the drug test this time.

"I'm sorry if I don't pass the test but I think it should work out," Diaz said. "I wonder how much they test people around there."

The latter comment was directed at St-Pierre. Later Thursday, Diaz went on a Toronto radio station and said St-Pierre is "on plenty of steroids." St-Pierre has never failed a PED test in 11-year MMA career.
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