Nick Diaz earned a title shot at UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre largely by virtue of his impressive run of stellar performances, but also because he's easily cast as the antagonistic foil to GSP's squeaky-clean white knight image.
Aside from just making for a good story, Diaz truly has gotten under St-Pierre's skin since abandoning his Strikeforce title in a quest for the UFC belt which currently hangs around Rush's waist. Constantly criticized for playing it safe and not going in for the kill against his opponents, everything St-Pierre has said concerning Diaz since the Nor-Cal firebrand called him out at UFC 137 has made it sound like the beast within has stirred.
For St-Pierre, Diaz represents the epitome of disrespect, the Stockton native's brashness in the cage clashing with his idea that professionalism and humility should be maintained throughout the sport. St-Pierre admits that he doesn't actually hate Diaz personally, but that he finds plenty of motivation to fight him based on the way he carries himself and represents the MMA as a whole.
"I don't truly hate him as a person. I don't know that he is a bad guy, but I hate what he brings to the sport with the disrespect and the unprofessional things he says and does. It is sort of a professional hatred," St-Pierre explains. "He has been nothing but disrespectful and arrogant towards me. During UFC 137, I felt like I had to walk around Las Vegas with my fists ready, because every time I came across him he wanted to fight there and then. Every time the elevator opened, I needed to be ready to fight in case he stepped in. I was on edge all week. This guy is crazy."
Following his thorough dismantling of BJ Penn at UFC 137 this past October, Nick Diaz got on the mic and sent a clear message to St-Pierre that he was here to fight him for more than just the belt -- for the right to be called the best in the world. The manner in which he did so left the champion more angry than have any of the attempts made by his past opponents, but he feels that it will only make things worse now for Diaz.
"I am used to hearing talk from opponents, Matt Serra did it, Dan Hardy did it, and Josh Koscheck did it, but with Diaz he has taken it to another level," he says. "He and his coach (Cesar Gracie) have called me a coward and tried to disrespect my accomplishments.
"All that has done though is make me determined to beat him up. He will bring out the best in me, I will be one hundred percent focused, like a bomb-expert defusing a time bomb. When my back is against the wall and I have no choice but to win, when I cannot lose to this person under any cost, that is when I am most dangerous. Also, as champion, I believe Diaz deserves the fight for the title. Style-wise, he is a very tough match for me and the fans deserve to see the fight they really want to see."
This weekend, the currently injured St-Pierre will look on as Diaz and Carlos Condit do battle for the interim welterweight title in his absence, with the winner to be awaiting him upon his return. Diaz and Condit meet in the main event of UFC 143, which goes down this Saturday from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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