It ain’t easy being Georges St. Pierre right now.
Turns out, when you’re one of the most dominant fighters in the world, possessing of ridiculous athleticism, borderline movie star good looks and nine straight UFC victories in increasingly flawless but conservative fashion, some people aren’t going to miss the opportunity to kick you when you’re down.
All told, it’s enough to make you wonder if things are pretty lonely in the welterweight champion's world right now. You know, aside from the supermodels and high-dollar corporate sponsors and the guy who comes over once a week to clean the pool.
Nick Diaz called out St. Pierre for what seemed like the thousandth time on Saturday night, insinuating in his subtle way that GSP was so scared of the homie that he faked an injury last month to avoid fighting -- uh -- Carlos Condit. Now, Condit’s camp is mad at St. Pierre for taking the bait, saying they didn’t exactly willingly “step aside” after the champ reportedly begged Dana White to let him fight Diaz after all.
“If I were him, I’d want to fight the Strikeforce champion ... but apparently, he didn't think it was too important,” Diaz said, before learning that St. Pierre had vowed to give him the worst beating in UFC history. “Apparently, he’d rather fight Carlos Conduit (sic).”
“Last I checked, Carlos was the tougher fight,” Tweeted Condit manager Malki Kawa after White announced the GSP-Diaz redux. “So I guess now [St. Pierre] will fight Nick.”
See? Sort of a no-win situation for our man Georges.
This is to say nothing of the seemingly growing number of fans who’ve decided that St. Pierre’s otherworldly dominance has gotten “boring” over the last few years.
Or the handful of people who bought tickets to UFC 137 before GSP was injured and then showed up to the fights last weekend wearing T-shirts that said things like: “GSP and Dana White owe me $4,000.”
Or the guy who stood up in front of God and everybody during Frank Mir’s Friday afternoon Q&A session at Mandalay Bay and asked Mir what he thought after St. Pierre “b----ed out” of a fight due to a sprained knee.
What, if anything, did St. Pierre do to deserve all this hate? Is he just too good? Too nice? Is his personal brand too impeccably crafted to appeal to the more self-consciously edgy element of the MMA set? And if so, is St. Pierre on the verge of his own minor popularity crisis?
Yeah, probably not. It should be noted that the guy who publicly used the b-word to describe St. Pierre in Las Vegas last week got booed out of the arena. And for every guy strutting around in an anti-GSP T-shirt, there was at least one who attended UFC 137 wearing one of St. Pierre’s signature Karate Kid headbands. The man himself remains one of the UFC’s biggest draws and, despite this recent injury, one of its most dependable performers.
But assuming that St. Pierre’s image needs a little boost to get fans excited about him again; then, perhaps, this rivalry with Diaz comes along at just the right time. Maybe an honest-to-goodness blood feud is just what St. Pierre's nice guy image is missing.
With apologies to Condit and his people, the UFC was absolutely right to jump on the Diaz-St. Pierre fight while it’s white hot. Diaz may well be MMA’s most must-see star right now and he’s already plied some very un-GSP-like behavior out of the mild-mannered champion. That can only be a good thing when it comes to promoting this matchup, as fans will likely be happy to see St. Pierre show a little emotion, for once.
With the added promotional power of network television set to give the UFC’s Super Bowl weekend show an unprecedented build-up, you couldn’t ask for a better matchup in terms of a good guy versus bad boy storyline. In Diaz, St. Pierre will have a foil worthy of his unfiltered disdain and, if he's smart, he'll play it up leading into their scheduled bout in early February.
In the end, if Condit wins at the same event, his title shot will still be there.
So too will the fans who’ve at least momentarily bailed off the GSP bandwagon. If he beats Diaz in a bonafide grudge match, my guess is most of them come flocking back to him.
Then we can all get past our various gripes about St. Pierre, and go back to wishing we had his problems, instead of our own.