It’s not because GSP will be angry. I certainly think that Georges fights best when he has something to prove, so that will be part of it. But the bigger part of it is that Nick Diaz is a fighter designed to win or lose big and GSP hasn’t fought one of them in a long time.
I would argue that almost every fighter that GSP has gone the distance with, with the exception of Dan Hardy, has been a quite thoughtful fighter. When you combine this with GSP’s incredible defense, you get long fights. Whether it was Alves’ timidity with leg kicks (and striking in general, landing a paltry number of strikes compared to the number he threw due, largely, to his own timidity because he didn’t want to be countered), or Koscheck’s nearly total lack of offense, time and again (save with Hardy), the people Georges fights only sparingly engage him. Or engage him only after, like Shields, GSP was half-blind from five eye pokes.
You can even see it in the way the fight when they’re not fighting GSP. Shields fight after GSP was Ellenburger, who knocked him out because Shields - with clear contempt for Ellenburger’s striking - dove into Ellenburger’s knee when doing a takedown. With GSP, his takedown attempts were timid affairs, even after he’d caught Georges’ leg during a spinning high kick. (Y’know, one of the safe techniques Georges is known for.) With GSP? Shields was timid and even fighting a half-blind, disoriented Georges he refused to seriously go for the takedown, choosing (intelligently) to stay on the outside and pick at Georges’ blind spot. Against Ellenburger? Charge! The same can be said, roughly, of Koscheck’s fight against Matt Hughes. Kos walked in, throwing big shots, like he often does. Where was that aggression fighting Georges St-Pierre?
Well, of any fighter in welterweight, the one with the least chance of changing his strategy is Nick Diaz. Like he said before the Penn fight, and pretty much says before every fight, we know exactly what he’s going to do. He’s going to try to swarm GSP with punches and move forward with scant defense. Even when he’s hurt, Nick will come forward, like he did with Paul Daley and Takanori Gomi. Except GSP isn’t Daley or Gomi. He’s much, much better.
On the ground is hardly any better. Diaz will constantly go for submissions. But Georges will be able to manipulate that to gain positional advantage on Diaz - probably Diaz’s back - and GSP will have a very good chance of submitting Diaz. And, of course, GSP will be able to take Diaz down at will.
As for Nick? The stylistic match up is just a nightmare. Even the thing he can always rely on he can’t. GSP has never gassed. GSP will be as light of foot and quick of hand in round five as he was in round one. And he’s much stronger than Diaz. Diaz won’t even have a reach advantage.
For me, the big question will be what happens to Nick Diaz when GSP breaks him. Diaz will throw everything at GSP and GSP will give it back sevenfold. Diaz’s own style will work against him. He won’t just lose, he’ll break against GSP like waves against the shore.
And then . . . well, how about a Diego Sanchez rematch? What about Koscheck and Fitch? Welterweight is full of precisely the kind of fighter that Diaz has shown weakness towards. Hell, the only reason he beat Penn is because Penn refused to take Diaz to the ground past the first round, for some bizarre reason abandoning half of his weapons to face Diaz’s strength, even after it was abundantly clear Penn was losing the stand-up. Unfortunately for Nick, almost no other fighter at welterweight does that, not at the top levels. Every other fighter will look at Nick’s style and counter it, they won’t let themselves be drawn into fighting Nick’s fight out of emotion, they’ll happily grind out Nick, time and again. He’ll whine about them “laying on top of them”, but, uh, wrestling is a big part of MMA, Nick. All top flight competitors, especially at welterweight, have to learn to deal with the grind. They learned that back when Hughes ruled the vision. If you can’t handle, you aren’t a top flight competitor at welterweight.
So it’s probably for the best that Nick is getting a title shot immediately, rather than having to fight one of GSP’s gatekeepers.
At any rate, Nick’s fighting style is “win big or lose big”. He’ll lose big. GSP will finish him and then the rest of the division will finish Nick, too.
(And the Hardy exception? I recently watched the fight, again, and what Georges’ corner was telling him was fascinating. Greg Jackson kept telling Georges to stop passing guard and just ground and pound Hardy. Georges ignored this advice, kept passing the guard and kept trying to submit Hardy . . . but he would always let up rather than really hurt Hardy. GSP is, by and large, a classy guy. What was he going to say? “Dan Hardy shouldn’t have been in the cage with me, so I handled him lightly. Rather than destroy his career by tearing off his elbow or twisting his shoulder into new and interesting configurations, I let up.” It would be deeply insulting to Dan Hardy to hear GSP say that GSP pitied Hardy so much . . . but that’s what it seems to me. I think that GSP could have easily gotten the TKO if he’d smashed Hardy through the guard. What was Hardy going to do? Submit Georges? C’mon. Georges choose, time and again, to treat Hardy lightly because Hardy was simply no threat to George. Not on the feet, not on the ground. So GSP ground him out.)