UFC 158 is headlined by one of the most anticipated fights on the planet, Nick Diaz vs. the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. If you've followed the back-and-forth jabs of both fighters, the bad blood between the two is more visible than Mark Hominick's hematoma from UFC 129 against Jose Aldo.
The question on most people's minds is, did Nick Diaz earn himself this title shot?
Well, let me enlighten you a bit.
Nick Diaz's Rise, Fall, and Rise...Again
Diaz was already slated to fight GSP at UFC 137 in a Champion vs. Champion fight, as Nick Diaz held the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship at the time. However, after missing multiple part-of-the-job events, Dana White replaced him with Carlos Condit.
Diaz was then schedule to fight B.J. Penn, while GSP was supposed fight to Condit. However, to make matters worse, GSP was unable to fight due to a knee injury, which made Diaz and Penn the main event, leaving Condit fresh out of luck.
After a very dominant performance, Diaz sent a message to GSP (foul language, discretion advised), which has ultimately helped him earn this title shot.
Diaz already fought Condit for the interim UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 154 and lost by unanimous decision. If you watched the fight, then you know there was some controversy. Click here to check out the fight, provided by Carlos Condit and the UFC. After a second look, even Joe Rogan believed Nick Diaz did enough to win the fight (again, foul language, discretion advised).
However, the biggest blow for Diaz came after the fight, when he tested positive for marijuana metabolites. He has clearly stated that he has social anxiety issues and has medical clearance to use the substance in California. He, nonetheless, took a 13-month hiatus from the sport and will be fighting for the first time since his suspension against GSP.
Even Mr. Gentleman GSP has had some out-of-character moments when discussing Diaz and their upcoming fight. Can you really blame them? Their personalities clash more than the Allied Forces and the Third Reich.
Diaz had always earned a shot at GSP, but it never happened. Not that he didn't deserve it, but his issues outside the octagon ruined his chances. Now, regardless of his antics outside the octagon, Diaz has earned himself a shot at the champ, not only with his mouth, but by pulverizing Penn (setting a UFC record for significant strikes) and with a very close bout with Condit.
Condit and Hendricks
Considering the guys on the outside looking in, Condit is, without a doubt, an elite finisher at 170 pounds. His submission skills and knockout power have been on display several times in the past. By defeating Diaz, he earned himself interim champion status and a chance to fight GSP. Though he put on a great fight, he was unable to pull off the victory.
His next opponent, Johny Hendricks, is a pretty good finisher, too. His highlight reel features knockouts of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, showing the southpaw's incredible power. However, when considering the UFC Welterweight division, Hendricks should have to fight Condit to not only prove himself at the elite level, but for Condit to get himself back into contention.
This has the makings of an unbelievable fight folks, and it's about time we accept that.
We Are to Blame
Speaking of which, it's the fans and social/regular media that have made things worse. Dana White's outburst at the UFC 158 press conference in Montreal was clear evidence of that. The continuous antagonizing of Diaz, along with the off-topic questions towards GSP, truly hindered the natural process of things leading up to the event.
Personally, I was quite disappointed to not hear from Condit at all, who has been completely overlooked due to the external factors of both fights. Not to mention, the only question that was directed towards, and answered by Hendricks was how he felt about not fighting GSP.
Plain and simple, Dana White makes Don King look like an underground Mexican pro-wrestling promoter with UFC 158, and he's a lot smarter, too.
UFC 158 is a storied event almost two years in the making, and if you're a true MMA fan, you shouldn't need any other reason to get excited about it.
Even as a French-speaking Canadian, Diaz and Hendricks are personal favorites, and it would be nice to see both fighters come out on top. On the other hand, Condit and St. Pierre remain two of the best welterweights in the world and overlooking their skills can only mean one thing: a loss on your record.
Just ask Dan Hardy.
All in all, it's time for Diaz to put up or shut up, and the same goes for us. Interestingly, GSP will look to accomplish both simultaneously.
As for Hendricks, he will try to prove why he should have been in contention to begin with, while Condit hopes to earn himself another chance at UFC gold.
We all might need a "come to Jesus meeting" after this, if only I had some "wolf tickets" to help me through the process.