Showdown on UFC 158: Tensions mount

According to his camp, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is willing to be tested by two separate organizations: VADA, and also the NSAC’s proposed program. (CP/Paul Chiasson)

The stakes have reached an all-time high between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz and with more pre-fight activities scheduled for next week, it appears the bar can only be raised further before their epic showdown on March 16. All it took was one conference call and a riled up Diaz to spark a fire under everyone involved, proving there is more than one game being played here. It will culminate with one winner; and it won’t be GSP, Diaz or even the UFC. It will be the fans.

I don’t pretend to have any sort of education in the field of psychology, nor am I intending to defend what was said between Georges and Nick, but I am of the opinion that it’s crucial to read between the lines. There are many who are offended with Diaz’ demeanour and his choice of vocabulary, as well as his consistent swaying from the topic at hand, and there are just as many on the opposite side of the fence who were not happy with GSP’s responses to his opponent’s remarks.

The F-bombs from Diaz and his opinion of his opponent are born from his interpretation and perception of what he sees as “a pampered” champion. St-Pierre’s response to the challenger was that he is an “uneducated fool,” showing another sign that the Stockton, California native has yet again gotten underneath the Canadian’s skin.

Everyone can make their own determination as to whom they believe to be right or wrong, but understanding the available information that both fighters have about one another can clear the muddy waters that separate the two welterweights.

Diaz maintains that his upbringing and difficult life in Stockton, Calif., cannot be understood by anyone who doesn’t come from there. St-Pierre rebutted with his insistence that he has his own dark side stemming from his youth, while informing Diaz that he doesn’t know a thing about him or where he came from.

Nick believes he deserves better and his apparent accusation of the elitist champion continues to prove more of his hatred for his perception of the game than any disdain for Georges. Diaz’s version of “the game” is different than that of GSP’s, with the latter enjoying the spoils of playing it his way, while the former continues to profess he is getting paid like the champ, and especially the larger pay days from the big names in boxing.

How one plays the game is often defined by the interpretation of the rules. Georges has played it in a manner that has seen him live a rather comfortable financial life, while managing his money in a manner that sees him employ others. Trying to explain to Diaz on the conference call that it is “passive income,” and that Nick may never get or understand this concept.

To wit, even UFC president Dana White once told Nick, figuratively to his face while the two were at the UFC 137 post-fight press conference, to “move” and “buy a new house” in response to Diaz complaining about his financial compensation, all but making it clear that Nick has made more than enough funds to live a better life.

There is a segment of the MMA fan base and media who are adamant that Diaz speaks the truth and I definitely agree, not fully, but mostly to their arguments. Nick, like the UFC motto, is “as real as it gets.” And while I never grew up in his environment, at a young age I understood the importance of trying to walk in another man’s shoes, to never judge and formulate an opinion until I was able to gather as many facts about a situation, then to analyze them accordingly and come up with my own conclusions.

Over the years, knowing GSP the way I do, and having extensive interviews with both Nick and his brother Nate Diaz, and speaking at length with their teammates and coaches, I understand why they act the way they do, speak the way do and perceive things the way they do. I feel as if I get them and I get this whole bad blood between them and the rest of the world.

I also recall Dana White’s insistence prior to his organization buying Strikeforce that the only way Nick Diaz would be allowed to compete for the UFC again, was if he simply just “played the game” just a little, just play the game. Today, the coin has flipped and it’s likely now Dana who may be thinking, “wait a second… maybe I should play the Nick Diaz game.”

Truth be told, Dana figured this out a long time ago, but just eight days away from UFC 158 and courtesy of Nick being the star on the conference call, White is perhaps sitting back, calmly confident that his decision and belief in Diaz has been confirmed. For the majority who did not want to see GSP vs. Diaz beforehand, that number has drastically decreased to a minority, silenced by the extra hype that is now surrounding this welterweight championship bout.

There is not much better for a promoter than when his fighters do the promoting for him. It’s virtually free money, and a lot of it for the organization. There are three games being played here, each by their own participants, all who are playing by their own rules. But the real winner will not be the UFC, not Georges St-Pierre and not Nick Diaz. The real winner will be the consumers, both the fanatics and the media.

The sound of the broken record that echoes “history will be made” has taken on a new meaning for UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz. Next Saturday night, all eyes will be on the Bell Centre and for good reason. There is only one way to settle this bitter score between GSP and Diaz. That’s for the referee to step out of the way, and let these two finally get it on.

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