St. Pierre pines for title shot against Nick Diaz

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LAS VEGAS – Nick Diaz is hardly Georges St. Pierre's favorite person, but St. Pierre, the UFC's injured welterweight champion, will be rooting vigorously Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for Diaz to defeat Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 143.

St. Pierre was supposed to be fighting Diaz for the belt on Saturday, just as he was supposed to fight the ex-Strikeforce champion in October at UFC 137. Each time, though, injuries forced him to pull out.

Diaz dominated B.J. Penn at UFC 137, and UFC president Dana White announced at the post-fight news conference that he would meet St. Pierre in 2012 for the belt. But when St. Pierre re-injured his knee, the UFC scheduled Diaz against Condit instead and announced it would be for the interim title.

St. Pierre is recovering quickly, far faster than expected, and hopes to be able to fight Saturday night's winner this summer. And though he professes great admiration for Condit as a man and as a fighter, he'll be cheering for Diaz.

He dropped to his knees and begged for a title shot following a win over Sean Sherk at UFC 56, and said he is just as eager today to get a crack at Diaz.

"I respect Carlos Condit, but I want Diaz to win," St. Pierre said. "It will be a weird feeling, sitting at the Mandalay Bay wanting Nick Diaz to win. I want this fight with Diaz so badly, as badly as I wanted the title shot when I got down on my knees. I have never asked Dana White for anything, but I did ask to fight Nick Diaz. I was [crushed] when I had to pull out of this weekend's fight hurt, but I am determined to get back to the Octagon as soon as possible to fight this guy. He needs to hold up his part and beat Carlos Condit on Saturday to make this fight happen."

[Related: UFC on Fox proves good for business]

St. Pierre has long laughed at fighters who talked trash against him, but he's reacted differently to Diaz. Before their bout at UFC 137 was postponed by St. Pierre's injury, Diaz was letting St. Pierre have it verbally. And it wasn't just talk all the time.

When they encountered each other in the hotel the week of that fight, tempers flared and they nearly got into it.

White has said that the normally cool St. Pierre "hates" Diaz. St. Pierre wouldn't go so far as to use that word, but he did say that there is an intense dislike.

"I don't truly hate him as a person," St. Pierre said. "I don't know that he is a bad guy, but I hate what he brings to the sport with the disrespect and the unprofessional things he says and does. It is sort of a professional hatred. He has been nothing but disrespectful and arrogant toward me. During UFC 137 [week] I felt like I had to walk around Las Vegas with my fists ready [to punch Diaz] because every time I came across him, he wanted to fight there and then. Every time the elevator opened [in the hotel], I needed to be ready to fight in case he stepped in. I was on edge all week. This guy is crazy."

MMA musings
MMA musings

• The bitter feud between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and ex-champ Rashad Evans will guarantee that UFC 145 on April 21 in Atlanta, where they'll meet for the title, will be one of the company's best pay-per-view shows. That said, the best long-term move may have been to put the fight on UFC on Fox 3 as the main event. Jones is a young champion and is rapidly becoming the face of the company. The exposure he would have gotten fighting on the network would be invaluable down the road, and he'd more than make up for the lost pay-per-view sales in future events.

• Jones, by the way, told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani that he would like to fight at heavyweight in 2012, a move nixed by the UFC brass. Have no doubt, though, that Jones will one day wear the heavyweight belt. That's nearly a given. Imagine Jones with his same athleticism and fighting at 240 pounds: He'd be so dangerous, he might be outlawed.

• Chris Weidman took the fight against Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2 last week on 11 days notice. He had an excuse for gassing in the third round of what became a unanimous-decision victory. To make the middleweight limit of 185 pounds, he had to lose 32 pounds in 10 days. Maia, though, had no such excuse. He was completely winded in the third round. It certainly didn't leave much of an impression on a national television audience seeing the sport for the first time.

• Michael Bisping has fought so many wrestlers, it's hard to keep track, but it seems like they'll keep coming. After a solid performance in a losing effort Saturday to (wrestler) Chael Sonnen, who does Bisping get next? Vitor Belfort, a striker, would be a great choice, but he's fighting Wanderlei Silva at the conclusion of "The Ultimate Fighter" Brazil. Other potential opponents are Mark Munoz, a wrestler; Weidman, a wrestler; and Yushin Okami, yes, a wrestler. Perhaps he might be paired with Brian Stann, though Stann is coming off a one-sided loss to Sonnen at UFC 136.

Readers Always Write
Readers Always Write

Silva-Sonnen II will be vastly different

I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen rematch for the UFC middleweight title. Do you think it will be as different as I do? After watching the Sonnen vs. Bisping match and considering Sonnen's previous fights, I believe that it is a combination of two things that led to the success he experienced in his first outing with Silva. The first is the obvious fact that Silva had injured ribs, which would have to be one of the worst injuries to have going into a fight with a wrestler. The second is the PEDs that Sonnen tested positive for in the post-fight drug test. In the Bisping fight, it was evident the amount of strain he puts on his body for the cut down to 185, and it seems most fighters get caught using PEDs to cut weight. I think with a healthy Silva and a more "natural" Sonnen, the fight will be much different. Silva wins inside the distance.

Greg
Pilesgrove, N.J.

I do think it will be different, and I do think Silva will be much more impressive. The one caveat is that Silva will be 37 by the time the rematch occurs, and he could simply be past his best at this stage. Sonnen is going to take him down, but I don't see him doing it as repeatedly and as successfully as he did at UFC 110. I like Silva by stoppage, probably in the first half of the fight.

Bisping has no reason to complain

I'm amazed how many people think Michael Bisping should have gotten the decision over Chael Sonnen on Saturday. Yes, he can certainly claim a moral victory, being a 4-1 underdog. But no way should he have gotten the decision, like some (UFC president Dana White and broadcaster Joe Rogan among them) are saying. It's one thing to do better than expected. It's another to win the round. "Hanging with" and "being competitive" aren't the same as winning. It feels very similar to when Randy Couture fought Brock Lesnar at UFC 92, and a lot of people said Couture won the first round. Not even close! Like Bisping, Couture did better than many expected, hanging with the much bigger, younger man, but Couture still clearly lost the round. Imagine if Round 1 of Bisping-Sonnen was exactly the same, only with the roles reversed, and Bisping did what Sonnen did – taking his opponent down twice and out-landing him by a ratio of two-to-one. People would say Bisping destroyed Sonnen in that round. But when Sonnen does it people say, "Bisping got right back up, so Bisping won the round." It seems to me people need to judge the fights with fresh eyes, not with a perspective of how they expect the fight "should go."

Dean Jenkinson
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I had it 30-27 for Sonnen, but I would not have argued 29-28 for Bisping. I thought Rounds 1 and 2 were very close, particularly Round 2. There wasn't a lot to choose from in either round. I thought that Sonnen's takedowns and a couple of good shots he landed from the top after those takedowns were the difference in those rounds. Bisping, though, had his moments as well. It was a close fight that could have gone either way.

Evans about to venture into dangerous territory

I have always enjoyed watching Rashad Evans as a fighter and a man, but beating Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis is not nearly the same as beating Jon Jones. Evans hasn't faced a man this size since he was fighting big, slow heavyweights, and Jones is far from slow. To beat Jones, Evans would have to fight both the perfect fight and the best fight of his life, in my opinion. It is a fight, and anyone can win on any given night, but I feel the odds are long that the winner will be Evans.

Don Greene
Lansing, N.C.

Jones opened as about a 6-1 favorite. While I believe Jones should be a healthy favorite, I believe that number is high. I expect Jones will win, but Evans is one of the 10 best fighters in the world and, to me, has a better chance than a 6-1 underdog would. It's going to be a personal fight, too, and it will be important that Jones can control his emotions. This will be the fight of his life for Evans, but it will be in many ways for Jones, too.

UFC should focus on strikers on Fox

I attended the UFC on Fox 2 event at the United Center and had a great time, even though the main card was not the greatest (mostly the Maia-Weidman fight). I believe the UFC should highlight more strikers with these free cards, because first-time MMA viewers don't necessarily understand the grappling game. These uneducated fans just want to see brutal knockouts, and who doesn't? That's my thought on the subject.

Joe Bermudez
Chicago

Either MMA is going to be accepted by the general public or it is not, and I don't think the UFC should manipulate its matchmaking to accommodate folks who don't understand the sport. I agree that newcomers don't get grappling, but they do get punching. However, I think the beauty of MMA is when it's all put together. When you have an MMA fight with all elements of the sport – with strikes, wrestling, submission attempts, scrambles, etc. – it's a thing of beauty, and that's what the public needs to see.

Quoteworthy
Quoteworthy

"I am very nervous that Carlos Condit will win on Saturday night, and that I won't be able to fight Nick Diaz this summer. Carlos Condit is a very good fighter. He can strike, he is aggressive and he has submissions. He has been very impressive and is the type of fighter who gets better and better the more confident he gets." – UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

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