December 16, 2012, 4:49 AM
The UFC’s next trip to Montreal will have three welterweight fights at the top featuring six of the best 170-pounders in the world.
The organization confirmed Saturday during the FX broadcast of the live Ultimate Fighter 16 finale that UFC 158 on March 16 at the Bell Centre will be headlined by the welterweight title fight between champion Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz and will also include the rematch between GSP teammate Rory MacDonald and former interim champ Carlos Condit.
A third bout was also announced between top-10 welterweights Johny Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger.
Hendricks was believed to have earned a title shot against St-Pierre with his 46-second knockout win over Martin Kampmann at last month’s UFC 154, the same night GSP dominated Condit to unify the belts. However, St-Pierre said he had unfinished business with Diaz, who was originally set to challenge him a year ago. Diaz lost a decision to Condit for the interim title in February, but St-Pierre’s camp believe Diaz should have won the fight and they consider him the No. 1 contender.
The UFC released a statement late Saturday night saying no other opponent has motivated St-Pierre as much as the “unpredictable Diaz,” who missed out on his first title shot when he failed to appear at a couple of press conferences promoting it, and then called out the champion after he pulled out of a first bout with his replacement Condit with an injury.
“There’s been a lot of talk about who I should fight next but this was really the only choice for me,” said St-Pierre in the statement. “He’s made it personal and I personally can’t wait.”
The eagerness for the matchup is mutual.
“This is the fight I want,” said Diaz, who is currently on a one-year suspension for a failed drug test but should be eligible to return as of Feb. 5. “I want to go out there and beat Georges St-Pierre in Montreal and show that I’m the best welterweight in the world.”
The UFC also said a rematch of a UFC 154 fight between Quebec’s Patrick Cote and Alessio Sakara that ended in the latter being disqualified due to illegal blows to the back of the head of a downed opponent, would be a fourth main-card bout back at the Bell Centre again.
Here’s an early look at the fight poster.