Lefko on UFC 158: Getting tiresome for GSP

Georges St-Pierre is growing tired of Nick Diaz' talk.
March 15, 2013, 8:10 AM

Okay, so let’s get this straight. Nick Diaz is accusing Georges St-Pierre of using steroids.

Didn’t B.J. Penn make a similar allegation and didn’t he later offer an apology for having no substance, so to speak, to his claim?

And didn’t Josh Koscheck make a similar claim and also repent for his remarks?

So now it’s the dastardly Diaz saying the individual who is supposed to be the top draw in the UFC is a juicer.

Should we expect a mea culpa in Montreal from Diaz between now and the main event of UFC 158 Saturday night?

You really have to wonder why all these individuals pull out the S word when they fight St-Pierre. Do they think GSP stands for Georges Steroid Pierre or are they convinced he is not the saint that his hyphenated surname suggests?

Either there really is something to all these allegations and there is some kind of cover-up — as Diaz would have you believe — or one of the most decorated fighters in mixed martial arts has been the subject of a witch hunt that is nothing short of slander.

It is easy for others to make suggestions, but without proof is there really any substance to these accusations of using performance-enhancing substances?

The problem is that the more these allegations are raised, St-Pierre’s image of fighting cleanly starts to become clouded. St-Pierre is a slave to working out, his chiseled body proof of that. But he is not the only one; it’s just that somehow St-Pierre is lauded for it more. It is as much a part of who he is as the victories he has accomplished. But the more he is subjected to insinuations, particularly in this climate and period in sports when PEDs have tarnished the accomplishments of many high-profile stars, the more it becomes an issue.

St-Pierre has enough people in his entourage to put an end to the allegations by slapping the individuals who make these claims with a lawsuit. It has happened in other sports. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. settled out of court and issued a public apology for making steroid allegations against Manny Pacquiao. But he still went on to make some veiled suggestions.

So until St-Pierre really takes a hard-line stance against the steroid claims, the allegations will continue.

Everything in St-Pierre’s body language in the media conference on Thursday suggested he has grown weary of all the talk from Diaz, who has nailed him with some vicious verbal jabs, perhaps hoping to see the champ come undone. He has come close, but has chosen to maintain his dignity.

St-Pierre said at the pre-fight press conference on Thursday that he really didn’t want to be there because he was in the process of cutting weight in advance of Friday’s weigh-in and is also tired of answering the same questions. But he faced up to his obligations because the last thing he wants to do is be accused of unprofessionalism, which he believes is one of the problems with Diaz.

Diaz can skip media conferences or fail to do them on time and it has yet to result in any sanctions. UFC president Dana White tried to reprimand Diaz for missing some scheduled media sessions for his bout against St-Pierre in the main event for UFC 137 in October 2011. No sooner had White dropped Diaz into the co-main event, the plan changed when St-Pierre couldn’t fight because of a bum knee and Diaz was placed back in the main event, this time against Penn. The feud that was developing between Diaz and St-Pierre really started to percolate after Diaz pummeled Penn into a bloody mess and dared to suggest afterward that the champion had faked the injury so he wouldn’t have to fight him because he was afraid. St-Pierre feigned as if he was afraid, but the smirk that he flashed hasn’t been seen nearly as much when the matter is Diaz. Clearly Diaz has penetrated the veneer of St-Pierre.

The only thing that has stopped Diaz so far is the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which has suspended him for two separate positive tests for marijuana. Saturday night will be his first fight since the NSAC slapped him with a one-year sentence for traces of marijuana metabolites following his loss to Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight title at UFC 143 in February 2012.

Notwithstanding sitting on the sidelines for a year for a joke of a toke, Diaz has had it pretty good. He has managed to market himself without even trying. He’s not playing the poetic fool like Chael Sonnen; he’s just telling it like it is in an unvarnished way that at times makes a lot of sense, in particular the way scoring and judging have changed MMA. He’s the homie in the hoodie speaking a language that is entertaining in its own way.

He truly seemed to be enjoying himself responding to media questions on Thursday. He was fresh and looked healthy, having skipped a public workout the day before to rest following a late flight the night before. Diaz is a guy who normally looks uncomfortable facing the media, but maybe all of this has changed him? Maybe he has been portrayed as a villain and it’s actually working for him, even though he doesn’t want to be seen as the bad guy.

And White seems to enjoy it, having given Diaz second and third chances, primarily because St-Pierre has craved the opportunity to end this unfinished business he has with the punk who dared to essentially call him a chicken.

Johny Hendricks, who fights Condit in the co-main event, may be more deserving because of his recent record, notably with his impressive first-round knockouts in three of his last five fights. But the business isn’t about who is next in line; it’s about what’s good for business. This Diaz-St-Pierre grudge match is red-hot right now.

Beyond just the fact St-Pierre has been accused of using drugs, his image has taken a pounding from people in other ways. Some say he has deliberately avoided a super-fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva because his heavier opponent would have a weight advantage, even if fighting at a catchweight of 175-180 pounds in what would essentially be an exhibition bout with no titles on the line. He has countered by saying his focus is on Diaz.

His style of fighting has come under criticism from those who say he can’t finish. That has been the case in his last five fights, and it’s the opinion of some he has changed the way he fights from when he was challenging for the title to actually having it and wanting to preserve it. Then again, he has been versatile enough to change his styles, and sometimes that’s because his opponents don’t want to get into a ground game with him (Jake Shields) or think they can beat him in a stand-up contest (Koscheck).

GSP supporters suggest his greatness is in his ability to not get beat, using whatever psychology and game plan is necessary to win. And winning is really the only thing that matters, right?

The fight against Diaz is a chance to quiet his critics — if that even matters to him — but more importantly he can shut up Diaz for all he’s done to besmirch him.

St-Pierre has the belt and he wants to use it, so to speak, on Diaz. La Belle Province, as Quebec is known, will be The Belt Province on Saturday.

What happens in the cage and afterward are up to St-Pierre. He can put a beatdown on Diaz and then slap him with a lawsuit.

Until then, Diaz can walk around with a smile on his face, while St-Pierre wears something resembling a scowl or a frown. You wonder now if this was truly worth it, providing the opportunity of a lifetime for an opponent who isn’t even sure he wants to fight or guarantee he won’t test positive for another marijuana offence.

Maybe this is an example of be careful what you wish for because it certainly has been a long time waiting for the fight against Diaz, whose popularity has soared as a bankable commodity while his image has taken somewhat of a beatdown.

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