The Question: Would Nate Diaz Vs. Georges St Pierre Be Terrible Or Great

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 5:   Nate Diaz celebrates his submission victory over Conor McGregor in their welterweight bout during the UFC 196 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The biggest problem with the UFC in 2018 isn't that there are too many shows or that the belts have lost all meaning. The biggest problem is that most of the fan-favorite fighters just aren't active at the moment.

Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar are the hottest acts in WWE, Conor McGregor is in the middle of a prolonged contract dispute with the UFC, Jon Jones is still dealing with his drug testing issues...the list goes on.

An interesting bit of news on that topic came out Tuesday, however, as Dana White spoke on the UFC Unfiltered podcast (h/t FloCombat). There, he made the surprise announcement that the company was looking to bring back two of its AWOL stars, Nate Diaz and Georges St-Pierre, for a fight against one another.

Details on St-Pierre's return have been scarce since he vacated the middleweight title in December.Details on St-Pierre's return have been scarce since he vacated the middleweight title in December.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

While the bulk of the reactions were skeptical, the proclamation did spawn an interesting debate: Would a GSP vs. Diaz bout be any good?

To discuss this topic, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden and Steven Rondina came together to give their takes on this hypothetical matchup.

Steven: So this is kind of a strange one, isn't it? Just a few days after telling Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole that nothing was going on between the UFC and Nate Diaz, Dana White sat down with Jim Norton and Matt Serra on the UFC Unfiltered podcast to reveal that not only is something going on, but something pretty big is going on in the form of a potential bout between Diaz and Georges St-Pierre.

There's a good chance Dana's pants were on fire during this interview, but this does make sense from what we know of all three parties, with Diaz looking for a non-McGregor payday, GSP wanting to drop to 155 pounds and the UFC trying to make as many big fights as possible as it negotiates a new TV deal.

Kevin Iole @KevinI

Also, @danawhite didn’t seem to think much of the news about UFC negotiating a fight with Nate Diaz. “We offer him a fight every 3 or 4 months and have ever since his last fight. Nothing is going on.”

So assuming the UFC prez wasn't telling a fib...I'm pretty darn excited about this.

MMA is just generally better when it has all of its most popular figures actively competing, and having two of them come back at once is a treat. And having them come back to fight each other? Well, that doesn't make things worse in my book.

Do you feel the same way? Or am I just too enthusiastic?

Jonathan: As an athletic contest, this one seems a little one-sided. The smaller Diaz is a fighter made for a guy like GSP, even the 36-year-old version, to beat up.

We saw a preview five years ago when St-Pierre demolished Nate's brother, Nick, at UFC 158 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In that fight, GSP took the elder Diaz down nine times total and landed more than twice as many punches as his hapless foe. In the end, the judges scored the fight 50-45 across the board for the former welterweight champion.

GSP had little trouble getting through Nate Diaz's brother, Nick, when they fought in 2013.GSP had little trouble getting through Nate Diaz's brother, Nick, when they fought in 2013.Jonathan Ferrey/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Diaz, for all his post-bout complaints, was never in the fight.

Everything St-Pierre does is like Diaz kryptonite. The brothers count on suckering opponents into a frenzied, frantic display of machismo, a test of wills and gumption. That's a battle they, rightly, believe they're more than likely to win.

But St-Pierre is one of the most disciplined fighters I've ever seen. He simply can't be flustered and his confidence never wavers. Working behind his jab, he's content to wear an opponent down, taking them to the mat to mix things up occasionally, but mostly happy to slowly rip away their hopes and dreams with his unyielding excellence.

Try as I might, it's hard to imagine Diaz defeating St-Pierre. And it's hard to get too excited about a fight where the result is all but written in stone. 

Nate Diaz is extraordinary at taunting opponents, which often leads to them making mistakes.Nate Diaz is extraordinary at taunting opponents, which often leads to them making mistakes.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Steven: Would I pick GSP to win? Sure. I'm not sure we can chalk this one up as a slam dunk, though.

We've seen different fighters neutralize GSP's best tools in his two most recent fights. Johny Hendricks, a southpaw like Diaz, was able to effectively punish GSP's jab-heavy offense through effective use of his lead right hand. Michael Bisping was able to keep GSP from ever gaining momentum through his wrestling with effective striking off his back.

Diaz is obviously a very different fighter from those two but the game is starting to catch up to GSP, and it wouldn't be the most absurd thing ever if Nate was actually the guy to crack the code.

Johny Hendricks showed how some southpaws can succeed against GSP.Johny Hendricks showed how some southpaws can succeed against GSP.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

But of course, I'd be lying if I said my excitement for this one was entirely about the fight. A few years back, I said that Nick vs. GSP was MMA's Batman vs. Superman—the gritty, street-wise hero facing off with the squeaky clean bane of bald supervillains—and that holds up here. The storylines are plentiful, and the build should be amazing even if the fun isn' why not?

Jonathan: I don't think Diaz resembles either Hendricks, a heavy-handed former NCAA wrestling champion, or Bisping, a former contender at light heavyweight, for goodness sake. So it's hard to use those examples, both GSP wins of course, as meaningful templates for a potential fight with Diaz.

You know what's worse? I'm not even convinced the buildup to this fight would be particularly entertaining. Nate, though he has some of the same tendencies toward the anti-social, is no Nick Diaz. He won't be able to generate the same animus toward a GSP, who is simply out there smiling and minding his own business. And, if the Bisping fight is any guide, St-Pierre has no intention of engaging in any performative pre-fight trash talk. If the UFC wants to get Twitter fingers typing, GSP isn't their huckleberry.

But the Bisping fight proved that he doesn't have to be. People will buy his fights on PPV to catch a fleeting glimpse of greatness. This fight will sell whether it's good or not. And in 2018, that's all that matters.

UFC @ufc

#OnThisDay in 2012... @NateDiaz209 once again left us speechless. #UFC25Years

Steven: The fight could have an underwhelming build, it could be an unremarkable clinchfest and, of course, it might not even get booked. But that's just the way of it in MMA, isn't it? There are no guarantees with this pairing or any other hypothetical matchup.

If the UFC made GSP vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, it could be a boring press tour followed by 25 minutes of swimming for underhooks. If the UFC decided to make Diaz vs. Justin Gaethje, would any of us blame the former WSOF champion for remembering his wrestling base against someone that is historically susceptible to that style? I can't think of any surefire epics for either man, outside of bouts with Conor McGregor.

Ultimately, though, that's not what I find most appealing about the bout. 

I want GSP back in my life. I want Diaz back in my life. And at this point, I'm pretty much willing to take what I can get from them.

Is this a dream match for me? No, not really. But having them face off in an imperfect (but still likely to entertain) bout is a small price to pay in my opinion.

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