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Firas Zahabi: Nick Diaz is # 1 contender at welterweight, not Johny Hendricks

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Everyone and their dog is wondering whether UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre is going to fight Anderson Silva or not. The answer from GSP seems to be leaning towards no right now, so if that's true, he will be defending his title next. But against who? After UFC 154, it seemed plainly obvious to everyone, including Dana White, that Johny Hendricks was the number one contender after his 46-second knockout of Martin Kampmann. However, GSP's trainer Firas Zahabi told MMA Junkie that he believes another man is the rightful number one contender - Nick Diaz:

"I think Diaz is the guy who deserves it most," Zahabi said. "His fight with Carlos (Condit) was so close. Who knows? People judge it both ways.

"[Diaz is] the guy who is the Strikeforce champion. He climbed up the ladder all the way. Johny deserves it very much, but Diaz has been there longer and done more fights and has bigger wins.

"If you want to be really fair about it, he is the guy who beat the most amount of names in the biggest fights."

There's no love lost between St. Pierre and Diaz, who have been scheduled to face off before. It's not surprising that Zahabi would do his best to hype up Diaz, who would provide a much more marketable (and profitable) opponent for his protege. He also shot down the idea that GSP has cleaned out the division:

"After he beat B.J., people were like, 'The division has been cleared out,'" he said. "But then it always seems to be the same thing. Some other guy gets a big win, and the division is not cleaned out. You just saw the same thing. Hendricks got a big win, and it's like there's still Hendricks on the table and still Diaz on the table. (Jon) Fitch just beat Erick Silva, so that name is back in the mix."

It doesn't seem likely that Nick Diaz would be granted a title shot coming off a loss in these circumstances, even if it was close as Zahabi stated. But the political jockeyed will undoubtedly continue until the next GSP bout is set in stone.