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Georges St. Pierre explains why he’s fighting Nick Diaz at UFC 158

Welterweight title fight announced at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” finale

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Georges St. Pierre heads to his seat at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel. It was announced that St. Pierre’s next fight would be against Nick Diaz.

'The Ultimate Fighter 16' Finale

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Even if Roy Nelson had set the UFC record for fastest knockout and celebrated with an Olympic-caliber backflip Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel, he would have been a secondary storyline.

“The Ultimate Fighter 16” finale card played out underneath the considerable shadow of the UFC’s biggest star. Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre dropped in at the event, holding a short media session a few hundred yards away from the octagon at the Joint in a meeting room.

St. Pierre was there to talk about his now-official UFC 158 title defense against Nick Diaz, scheduled for March 16 in Montreal.

“For me right now, it’s the fight that makes the most sense,” St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre defended his choice to face Diaz over the two fighters who looked the most likely and seemed to make the most sense after last month’s UFC 154, Anderson Silva and Johny Hendricks.

The UFC pushed hard for the long-desired superfight with Silva, going as far as holding a press conference for the middleweight champion before St. Pierre’s unanimous-decision victory over Carlos Condit.

St. Pierre declining the Silva bout always seemed like a possibility, but it was presumed he would face Hendricks, the top welterweight contender, in that case.

Hendricks is on a five-fight win streak as opposed to Diaz, who lost to Condit last February before the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended him for a year after testing positive for marijuana metabolites.

St. Pierre detailed his reasons for pushing for the Diaz fight over the other two.

On Silva: “If I fight Anderson, I have to move up in weight. It will take me time. I can not fight Anderson in March, so right now I’m fighting who’s most logical.”

On Hendricks: “I believe he deserves it, but like I said, I can’t split myself in pieces. It’s a big fight with Diaz. People want to see the fight with Diaz.”

St. Pierre pointed out that pay-per-view sales would be much higher for a fight with Diaz than one with Hendricks. The champion curiously denied that calling out Diaz was personal despite their long history.

Diaz has insulted St. Pierre for years, and the champion reached his breaking point in 2011 when he begged UFC President Dana White to fight him. After St. Pierre tore his ACL in training, he said his biggest motivation to get back was an opportunity to shut up Diaz.

“This is the fight I want,” Diaz said in a statement. “I want to go out there and beat Georges St. Pierre and show that I’m the best welterweight in the world.”

This marks the third time the UFC has announced a St. Pierre vs. Diaz championship bout. The first time, for UFC 137, fell apart when Diaz failed to show up for a series of press conferences.

St. Pierre’s aforementioned injury forced the cancellation of their UFC 143 main event earlier this year.

“I hope he’s not going to do something crazy before our fight because I don’t want to train all that time for nothing,” St. Pierre said. “I think Nick Diaz is a smart guy. It’s a big-money fight for him, and it’s the chance of his lifetime.”

St. Pierre’s training partner, Rory MacDonald, and last victim, Condit, will rematch in the co-main event of UFC 158.

Hendricks swore he wouldn’t fight anyone other than St. Pierre after his first-round knockout of Martin Kampmann last month. White said he would have to.

As usual, White got his way. Hendricks will meet Ellenberger on the main card of UFC 158, two fights before St. Pierre and Diaz settle their differences.

“Hendricks will come,” St. Pierre said. “The time will come, but now is the time for Nick Diaz.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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