Is Nick Diaz the next great challenger for GSP?
Another Saturday, another title fight, another mouthy challenger put to bed for Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.
The win over Paul Daley wasn’t exactly a surprise. After all, Diaz was the favorite. He had a major grappling and ground game edge because of his BJJ black belt and many viewed him as the technically superior striker.
But the way Diaz took Daley out was particularly impressive. He beat the British bomber at his own game. Diaz kept the fight standing and didn’t just out-point Daley with superior speed and accuracy; he knocked him out. He put the brash, tough striker on his back.
The win was enough to make the MMA community wonder: is Nick Diaz the best possible challenger for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre? Assuming GSP stays at 170, I think he is.
Think about it. As a black belt, Diaz is just as dangerous as current No. 1 challenger Jake Shields on the ground. But he has more tools in his belt. With each bout, Diaz’s hands look better and better. He uses his height and reach advantage to perfection, setting opponents up with the jab, but also fires in with power. It’s possible that he’d have the edge over GSP in sheer one-punch knockout ability.
Diaz has also shown tremendous toughness. Arguably, no welterweight hits harder than Daley. Diaz ate some big shots in that fight and bounced back to win. So he probably has the better chin than GSP.
Still – even though Diaz would present a solid challenge, we shouldn’t get carried away. To me, Diaz would be another BJ Penn – a rangy guy with great BJJ and boxing but whom GSP would still probably beat simply by taking him down at will. Also, Diaz still has the tendency to get into brawls and become frantic and disorganized. A disciplined fighter like GSP would thus be Diaz’s toughest challenge yet.
So maybe Diaz’s victory tells us just as much about GSP as it does about Diaz. As impressive as Diaz looked, he still doesn’t appear to be in the same league as the French Canadian.