In case you haven’t heard, there’s a pretty big fight this weekend. Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit will meet at UFC 143 for the interim welterweight title in what is all but guaranteed to be a fight full of fireworks.
What happens next isn’t so certain though. With Georges St. Pierre out of action until at least this summer, likely later this fall, the new interim champion could be faced with defending that title before GSP is ready to defend the real belt. If Diaz wins though, expect a little resistance from his camp to agree to another welterweight fight in the meantime because Cesar Gracie went on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani today and said he plans to advise Nick to wait for GSP.
“If we’re fortunate and we win this fight, I would advise Nick to not take another fight before the GSP fight unless it was in different weight class,” he said. “We want to wait for that 170-pound thing. The people I speak with, they want to see the GSP fight if Nick is able to defeat Condit. That’s where I’m at with it. I’d advise Nick to not take another fight.”
“There hasn’t been any hype in a GSP fight for a very long time to the point he cleaned out his division and they were talking about an Anderson Silva matchup just to get some kind of excitement,” he said. “Nick really brings that to table because he’s one of most gifted athletes in terms of technically sound fighters out there. And you saw GSP on primetime. [Nick] brings out the thing where GSP wants to fight. I think it would be an amazing fight. And so that’s the fight I would want.”
His reasoning makes sense, though not completely without risks (see Rashad Evans). GSP vs. Nick Diaz is a huge fight that’s been thwarted twice. People want to see it and Diaz would stand to make a great deal of money from that fight. Losing in the meantime would completely kill it though and there’s plenty of hungry challengers who would be salivating at the opportunity to take it from him. So yes, waiting is the safer bet to securing that fight.
Realistically though, St. Pierre probably isn’t going to be ready to return until late 2012 (he specifically mentioned November), so that would be an awfully long wait. Moreover, if Diaz wins this weekend, he’s going to be the interim champion and the UFC will surely want him to defend it this summer if GSP isn’t ready. Otherwise, what’s the point of creating the interim title?
So while I understand where Gracie’s coming from, I can’t imagine the UFC being cool with Nick Diaz waiting around for GSP to recover. They can’t force him to fight but if they piss Dana White off enough, they can certainly snatch his number one contender’s status away as we’ve seen in the past. In other words, the UFC has the leverage so if they want Nick to fight bad enough, they’ll surely find a way to get him to.
Of course, that’s all assuming Nick Diaz gets past Carlos Condit this weekend which is certainly not a given. First things first, as they say.