Things have been wide open at 170 pounds ever since St-Pierre’s December 13 media conference call, where he announced that he would be going on an indefinite hiatus and vacating the UFC title.
As chants of “GSP” fade into obscurity, Diaz is looking to lend a helping hand to a division starving for bona fide star power.
Sure, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler are currently ranked as two of the top welterweights in the world. They are slated to compete on March 15 for the vacant welterweight title at UFC 171, an event Diaz plans on attending in person (h/t Los Angeles Times).
But is either fighter a pay-per-view star? Would casual fans be willing to shell out $55 to watch them fight?
Diaz doesn’t seem to think so. Despite retiring from MMA nearly a year ago, the controversial welterweight star still believes he is the top draw in the division, especially now that St-Pierre is out of the picture.
Jake Shields, Diaz’s close friend and teammate, will also be competing at UFC 171, but fans can rest assured knowing that Diaz has bigger plans for his trip to the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. One of those plans will be convincing UFC President Dana White to give him the winner of the vacant title bout, even though he is coming off two losses.
Diaz continued, “I’m the No. 1 draw in this weight division, that’s just the way it is. I win by submissions, knockouts. There’s guys ranked above me, but no one’s interested in seeing them fight. They want to see me fight. You want to make a good fight, this’ll be a good fight.”
Diaz already owns a highlight-reel knockout victory over Lawler dating all the way back to April 2, 2004 at UFC 47.
Hendricks, on the other hand, has shown the propensity for turning the lights out on opponents in a much more devastating fashion than even Diaz. The bearded welterweight contender became an overnight star last November when he came within one scorecard of defeating St-Pierre for the UFC title.
In St-Pierre’s absence, a general consensus amongst fans is to go ahead and anoint Hendricks as the next welterweight king. But overall, Diaz isn’t that impressed with the two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champ.
“The guy he’s beat haven’t been stand-up guys,” said Diaz. “He’s a wrestler who punches hard.”
The ball is once again in the UFC’s court to decide whether to give the title shot to a deserving contender or make a big money fight. For all of Diaz’s pre-fight antics and perpetual drama, there is no other surefire way at a pay-per-view blockbuster.