Welterweight Georges St-Pierre retained his UFC crown on points against Nick Diaz.
The feud has seemingly been put to bed – for now.
Undisputed welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre comprehensively defended his title with a unanimous points decision against bitter rival Nick Diaz in front of his countrymen in Canada.
The war of words between the two had raged for two years leading up to the main event of UFC 158, with Diaz looking to get inside the head of the cerebral assassin, St-Pierre.
However, it was the champion who showed plenty of intent early in the first round as he scored a takedown just seconds into the fight, nullifying the potent boxing of the challenger.
“He’s very good in a close boxing range, so I did not want to fight him there,” said St-Pierre afterwards.
“I wanted to fight the fight in kickboxing range, either all the way in or all the way out.
“And on the ground he has a very unusual style of jiu-jitsu, and it was very slippery and he was hard to control and I got a little bit tired around the end of the third round to be honest, but I gave my best and it was a tough fight.”
St-Pierre controlled Diaz on the ground well, constantly switching his position to in a bid to try and finish the fight early with a submission, resulting in a first-round win to the champion.
The slow start for Diaz was too frustrating for him to bear and he lashed out at St-Pierre after the bell but referee Yves Lavinge prevented any contact.
Diaz again looked to score with the judges early in the second round using his excellent stand-up before the takedown artist St-Pierre continued to put on a show, controlling most of the middle third of the round before the challenger again had to be pulled away by the ref at the sounding of the bell.
Working behind the jab, St-Pierre stayed patient in the third round as Diaz’s frustrations boiled to the surface, despite several cracking body shots and leg kicks, as he taunted the champion on the way to losing the third.
Entering the championship rounds, Diaz managed to show solid takedown defence before St-Pierre finished the fourth the stronger after raining down elbow strikes from the top to take a commanding lead, ultimately leading to all three judges giving him the bout 50-45.
The scattered career planning of Diaz was on display after the fight as he wavered from hinting at retirement again to stating he could beat St-Pierre in a rematch, and then suggesting he would be a better match up for pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.
“I just feel like I have fought everybody I want to fight, I feel like I have taken care of everything I wanted to do in this sport,” Diaz said.
“I can sit here and make a million excuses why I wasn’t ready for this fight, but I want a re-match because I think I can beat you (St-Pierre), but I think I would be better match-up for Anderson Silva.
“But I didn’t have a good first round or performance tonight. I carried out a lot of my plan and what I wanted to do but I just think I could have been better prepared for this fight.”
UFC president Dana White paid tribute to both St-Pierre and Diaz after the event, but rejected criticism of St-Pierre’s performance as predictable.
“I think Georges St-Pierre fought a great fight tonight, he stood up with him (Diaz) and got the better of the stand-up most of the time when he was up,” White said.
“Nick Diaz has an awesome style with his hands, and I don’t know if you could hear it over the media side (of the cage) but he hit Georges St-Pierre with a body shot that made a sound you don’t hear in fights but he took the shot and took him down and controlled the fight.”
St Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC)who is now tied with UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes for the most wins in the promotion’s history, said he can’t wait to face a new challenge.
“It was a fight everybody wanted to see and I wanted to have as well, but I’m glad it’s done and now I have to go on to a new chapter in my career,” St-Pierre said.
White also confirmed St-Pierre’s next opponent will be Johny Hendricks, after he beat Carlos Condit in the co-main event fight of the night, but did not speculate when the next welterweight title bout will be.