(If there was ever an image that summed up Nick Diaz’s mental state at all times, this is it. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
By Jack Saladino
After months, nay, years of hype, trash-talking, late night hotel stalking incidents, and promises of Georges St. Pierre unleashing “his dark side,” UFC 158 finally transpired last weekend to mixed reception. While no one was left questioning how great the night’s co-main event battle between Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks was, GSP’s one-sided, grappling-heavy routing of Nick Diaz — which has become the champ’s M.O. as of late — left more than a few fans wondering just what it would take to get St. Pierre to actually try and finish an opponent. Because if that was his dark side, well, it looked a hell of a lot like his regular side.
On the other side of the coin, many fans saw GSP’s performance as the epitome of dominance and classiness in the face of an adversary that thrives when coercing opponents into playing his game, often through mental warfare and now attempted cheap shots after the bell. Based on his continually skyrocketing ticket sales, it appears that no one has grown tired of St. Pierre’s shtick just yet, but will a fight with Hendricks succeed in bringing in anywhere near as many ticket/PPV sales? And if not Hendricks, then who?
It’s not an easy question for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to answer, but luckily for him, this is typically the time when the Armchair Matchmaker swoops in and all but does his job for him. So join us after the jump as we break down the potential futures of last weekend’s biggest winners (and some of the losers) in an effort to once again bail out Silva and get ourselves back into the UFC’s good graces. You could detect the sarcasm in that last statement, right?
Georges St. Pierre: Hendricks, then a long awaited superfight with Anderson Silva, then retirement. What…have you not heard about the welterweight champion’s secret UFC exit/world domination plan yet? Well we suggest that you break free from the conformist, white-washed shell of ignorance you’ve been living in all these years and get with the Goddamn picture. Also, the destruction of the Death Star was an inside job. Time to wake up, Taters.
Nick Diaz: Who the hell knows, man? In the weeks leading up to the fight, Diaz seemed like he was going to face facts and actually own up if he lost. Again, seemed. And as he could have hoped for, the Stocktonian had plenty of opportunities to punch GSP in the face without the fear of being taken down or rode like a pony during the fight itself. But of course, once he lost, things quickly devolved into the Tazmanian Devil-esque whir of incompetence and contradicting statements that only Nick Diaz can bring to the table.
While I love Nick, I think he should stick to fights with guys that actually want to stand up and fight. Guys with little-to-nothing to lose. Guys who aren’t afraid of a good old fashioned barnburner. Martin Kampmann expressed a desire to fight Diaz after he lost to GSP, which Diaz fans took as an insult (because of course they did) and took to the twit-o-sphere with a Stockton backlash. That might be the fuel Diaz needs to come in and showcase some of that boxing we all miss. Kampmann is no slouch either, compiling a nice winning streak until his flash KO against Hendricks last November. Two fighters with a slew of KO’s and subs who all but detest the thought of a decision victory; who wouldn’t want to see that matchup?
Jake “The Juggernaut, BITCH!” Ellenberger: Ellenberger looked absolutely menacing against Nate Marquardt, in what was slated to be a “don’t blink” kind of matchup. After a few exchanges, Jake was able to back Marquardt up against the cage and turn a missed body kick into a 1-2 combo that left Nate slumped in the corner, face down, ass up. Ellenberger certainly solidified that meaningless #6 next to his name and possibly passed Carlos Condit in the rankings with his victory. Because Ellenberger took almost no damage in his fight, I’d like to get him back in the octagon soon against another ranked welterweight like Demian Maia or preferably the last Strikeforce welterweight champion, Tarec Saffiedine, who is also coming off a win against Marquardt.
Carlos Condit: Although not completely unexpected, it was Johny Hendricks’ ability to take Condit down at will — not his Spiny Blue Shell of a left hand — that secured his victory by unanimous decision. Condit has now lost his last two fights and hasn’t finished a fight in his past three. He won’t lose his top ten ranking but he will need to rebound well if he doesn’t want to fall victim to the “Cut from the UFC Flow Chart.” I think his next match up should be tough guy and welterweight novice, Court McGee. McGee might not exactly be a big name, but Condit seemed to be fond of putting his knee into Hendricks’ beard and McGee’s scruffy soup-saver could simulate that same sort of pleasure. What? I’ll use whatever qualifications I see fit. Besides, we know that McGee is always down for a slugfest from his fights with Josh Neer, Costa Philippou, and Nick Ring. Set it up.
Chris Camozzi: Camozzi has compiled himself a nice and almost completely overlooked 4-fight win streak in the UFC since his loss to Francis Carmont at UFC 137. His victory against the always tough Nick Ring is a big step forward in his career and he will be a main card feature from now on. The hodgepodge of middleweights is a good place to keep your winning streak going, but he should be facing an even tougher challenge in his next bout against Tom Watson, a fellow banger and former BAMMA middleweight champ who recently scored a KOTN/FOTN victory over Stanislav Nedkov at UFC on FUEL 7. It would be a great win for either fighter and one that would be sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Mike Ricci: In his fight versus fellow TUF-loser Colin Fletcher, Ricci managed to secure a unanimous decision victory in a lackluster bout with “Freakshow,” whose nickname could not be less indicative of his fighting style. Ricci’s ability to use his jab and transition smoothly on the ground all the while adding some G-n-P (or GSP…) neutralized the height and reach of Fletcher, which seemed to be his only advantage in this bout.
Like most of you, I’m not really sure why this fight was on the main card; I would have much rather seen Makdessi and Cruickshank instead. While Ricci was victorious in his return to lightweight, he still came away from the bout appearing as if he needs some motivation to really light a fire under his ass. That’s why I’d send him to a fighter who could really put his lights out if he’s not careful: Yves Edwards. The “Thugjitsu Master” is coming off a split decision loss to Isaac Vallie-Flag and would surely love to showcase some skills against Ricci. This match up would be a good fit for UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as Ricci is Canadian. As we know, Canadians really love supporting each other.
What do you guys think? Are there any different matchups you’d like to see in the wake of UFC 158?