Georges St-Pierre knows Nick Diaz as well as any fighter to ever compete against the Stockton native during his career. St-Pierre defeated Diaz in 2013 to defend his UFC welterweight title, but he was one of the hardest fights of his entire reign as champion.
Diaz is known for a style where he walks forward constantly, peppers an opponent with punches in bunches and loves to trash talk even during the middle of an exchange.
While he was retired ever since his loss to St-Pierre last year, Diaz is returning to the Octagon in early 2015 for a showdown with former middleweight champion Anderson Silva as the headline bout for UFC 183 in Las Vegas. Currently the odds have Silva planted firmly as more than a two-to-one favorite over Diaz, but St-Pierre warns the fighter most unanimous recognized as the greatest of all time that he needs to find a way to finish this fight early because things could get ugly late.
"If it’s five rounds, Diaz is a very durable fighter. I’ve seen him in very bad positions and he’s in a lot of trouble and he’s very, very hard to finish. Maybe it happened, but I didn’t remember seeing a guy finishing Nick Diaz. He’s very durable," St-Pierre explained when speaking on a recent episode of Chael Sonnen’s podcast. "So the way I see this fight going and now they are fighting in Anderson Silva’s weight class, which I believe Diaz made a mistake accepting that fight at 185. I think he should have made it a catchweight, it would have been more fair.
I believe that Diaz is very good in boxing. I believe a lot of his training is pure boxing. He’s probably the best boxer in mixed martial arts. If you make the fight a boxing fight, I believe he’s going to win
— Georges St-Pierre
"I believe in the early part of the fight, Silva will have an advantage. If Diaz can survive and weather the storm, I believe he can come back at the end in the last part of the fight like the fourth and the fifth round."
St-Pierre has fought any number of styles during his career from wrestlers to jiu-jitsu experts to kickboxers, but none of them presented the kind of unique challenge that Diaz gave when they fought.
Diaz was in his face from the opening bell until the final horn. He was always looking for a way to punch St-Pierre in the face and he definitely wasn’t quiet during the 25-minute war.
"He brings a different intensity that you’ve never seen before. You feel like you’re claustrophobic and you lose a lot of energy because he’s constantly pushing you forward and it’s very hard to fight a guy like him. Especially in the later rounds," St-Pierre described.
"He said a lot of things. He’s a very, very smart fighter. Behind his image and the character that he is, he’s very smart. My game plan when I fought him was to not fall into this. If I would have fallen into it and got into a slugfest with him, it would have been his fight. I would have fought his fight and he’d probably win. He’s the best at that kind of fight."
While St-Pierre still believes that Diaz would have best been served by asking for a catchweight fight with Silva instead of agreeing to go up to 185-pounds, he still sees this as a winnable fight for the former Strikeforce champion.
Diaz’s style isn’t predicated on size advantage. He’s an in-your-face, non-stop puncher, who pins fighters against the cage and just starts unloading until they fall over.
His jab might be the best in the sport. His combinations are deadly. His boxing — according to St-Pierre — is tops in all of MMA.
So if Diaz is smart, he’ll try to keep this fight with Silva on the feet while using strictly his hands. If he can goad Silva into doing the same, there may be an upset brewing for January 31 at UFC 183.
"I believe that Diaz is very good in boxing. I believe a lot of his training is pure boxing. He’s probably the best boxer in mixed martial arts," St-Pierre said. "If you make the fight a boxing fight, I believe he’s going to win."