Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 | 11 p.m.
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 16 finale blog: Colton Smith seizes reality-show title
- Hector Lombard, Ross Pearson feast with knockouts at UFC on FX 6
- ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 16 finale weigh-in: Mitrione, Nelson relaxed and ready
- Active-duty Army Ranger Colton Smith out for ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ title
- Reluctant Roy Nelson stars in busy weekend for ‘The Ultimate Fighter’
- Georges St. Pierre has reservations about likely fight with Anderson Silva
- Johny Hendricks only interested in fighting Georges St. Pierre
- Athletic commission suspends Nick Diaz
- Debate rages on after Carlos Condit slips past Nick Diaz at UFC 143
- Knee injury takes Georges St. Pierre off of UFC 143
- UFC 137 victory leads Nick Diaz to title shot against Georges St. Pierre
- Dana White: ‘Nick Diaz obviously can’t handle the pressure of a main event’
- Dana White: Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz slated for UFC 137 in Las Vegas
- UFC coverage
- All MMA/boxing coverage
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.
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.”