I know what you're saying in response to this headline. It's a two word sentence that begins with any expletive and finishes with "no." But for a second let me slip in to Keanu Reeve's shoes. Let me write under the pretense that Al Pacino is silently moving my fingers across the keyboard.
GSP is without question the number one welterweight in the world, and his name is well within the debate of number one pound for pound fighter on the planet. He had a ridiculous streak of consecutive rounds won that was just snapped, surprisingly enough, on the feet by Jake Shields. Many people have examined the Shields fight, and by now you've probably seen the GIFs. If Jake was employing any strategy at all, it appeared that he specifically was trying to defend GSP's combinations and striking attacks with open handed swipes at the incumbent champion's eyes. Dirty? Hell yes. Effective? Indubitably. So let's examine GSP's main weakness, and why Stockton's finest bad boy would have a chance at UFC gold should the Zuffa belts be unified:
Barring the first Matt Serra fight, seen as a fluke in most fans' eyes, when has St-Pierre seemed his most vulnerable in the cage? Two moments stick out in my mind- his first bout against BJ Penn, and his last fight against the aforementioned Jake Shields. The common theme in both of those fights was accumulated damage to Georges's face. Behind a stiff jab and hard counter punches, BJ was able to send GSP to the hospital, broken nose, bruised and battered. Shields had nowhere near the effective striking, but his "accidental" eye pokes could've very well stopped the fight had the cage side physicians or referee gotten wind of his inability to see from both eyes.
Nick Diaz has had an incredible string of wins, but with an asterisk of a common theme: he doesn't fight wrestlers. Every Diaz hater will say that this weakness will keep him from achieving victory in the higher levels of the UFC WW division. But we aren't talking Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck in a three round fight. The title unification fight gives Diaz a much greater chance of the upset. Why is this, you ask? Well, allow me to retort. (/Pulp fiction reference)
Diaz has a few assets that lead me to believe he'd be a live dog against Canada's finest. First, he isn't going to be finished. He was in a world of trouble against Paul Daley, who might be the hardest hitter in the welterweight division, only to persevere. His iron chin and will is undebatable. Next, his cardio simply cannot be questioned. Name another mixed martial artist who engages in triathlons for fun? I'll wait for you to come up with the answer. Nothing comes to mind? I thought not. GSP will be hard pressed to finish Diaz over five rounds. GSP will either A. jab his way to a decision or B. Ground and blanket Diaz to a decision. He definitely has the ability to do either, but in both cases he's playing with fire. Why you ask? Because Diaz has the perfect style to target GSP's main weakness (accumulation of punishment). Nick will plod forward and he will land. If he gets taken down, he's shown the ability to be active from his back and still land. We've seen Nick brawl, but we've also seen him gameplan. Remember his fight against the "Whitemare" Zaromski? Nick held him against the cage to land approximately 20 hard knee strikes to the leg of his adversary, effectively taking away Marius' greatest asset in his kicking ability.
I think in this epic matchup of reigning and defending champions, Diaz will come with the gameplan of damage. He may not have the best skillset to win, because of his flat footed striking and lacking takedown defense, but he has the best style to counter GSP's weakness, and that is enough for me. So in my mind, the biggest question in this matchup becomes- can Diaz land enough punches and elbows to put GSP on the proverbial ropes? If this fight goes into the championship rounds, will St-Pierre's face hold up to the task of another defense?