UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre manhandled Nick Diaz for five rounds en route to a lopsided unanimous decision at UFC 158 Saturday night.
St-Pierre (24-2) pitched a shutout, winning 50-45 on all three judges’ cards in front of 20,145 fans at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
“Nick Diaz is a good guy,” said the champion, looking to end the bad blood between the two.
Diaz, who said he was flat after a 13-month layoff, thanked GSP “for giving him the credit I think I deserve.”
Diaz came to the fight with a chip on his shoulder and plenty of attitude. He leaves with a loss and lumps on his face, although he showed the champion respect after the fight.
As expected, St-Pierre used his wrestling to control the chirpy challenger, rag-dolling him at times and bullying him on the ground. But he also used his jab and kicks to pick apart the challenger on his feet.
A calm, calculating St-Pierre won almost every battle during the fight without putting himself in harm’s way. Diaz (27-8-0 with one no contest) never quit, but showed less of his trademark trash-talking. He had his hands full.
The main event had been dripping with animosity, with Diaz showing St-Pierre little respect. The normally chill champion was red-hot coming into the fight, saying he wanted to “retire” Diaz.
He may have done it. Diaz said his fighting days may be over.
“I think I’m done with this mixed martial arts,” he said.
A bizarre fight week saw Diaz skip a public workout, then put on a strange one-man tour de force at the pre-fight news conference which managed to both befuddle and antagonize GSP.
“I never took it personally,” GSP said after the fight.
The antagonism continued right up to the fight with fellow fighter Jake Shields, a member of the Diaz entourage, complaining about St-Pierre’s hand wraps.
“I checked GSP’s glove and the wrap looked shady,” Shields, beaten by GSP at UFC 129, tweeted before the fight.
UFC president Dana White said Shields had OK’d the wrap, only to have another member of the Diaz camp come and complain later.
The 31-year-old from Montreal was looking for his eighth straight successful title defence since winning his 170-pound championship back from Matt (The Terror) Serra at UFC 83 in April 2008. Only middleweight champion Anderson Silva has more title defences (10).
The welterweight contenders’ picture grew clearer earlier in the main card as Jonny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks won a unanimous 29-28 decision over Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit in a wild co-main event that left both men blooded, and with the respect of their boss.
“These boys are holding nothing back,” tweeted an appreciative White.
Condit and Hendricks earned US$50,000 each for the fight of the night.
Hendricks, who said he broke his left hand in the fight, was promised a title shot if he won.
“Guess what, I earned it,” said Hendricks.
And welterweight Jake (The Juggernaut) Ellenberger knocked out former Strikeforce champion Nate (The Great) Marquardt in the first round.
Ellenberger’s blow was picked as the KO of the night, earning him a $50,000 bonus.
Diaz came out to a chorus of boos, one man against a champion backed by thousands in the stands. He calmly walked inside the cage, his four corner men urging him on.
Then the lights dimmed and St-Pierre followed, bouncing up and down in his traditional karate garb to pulsating French-language rap. The crowd erupted.
Diaz walked over to the cage and yelled something as GSP prepared to enter. It didn’t seem like a hello. Montreal referee Yves Lavigne then moved over to keep a close watch on the challenger.
The place was rocking before the cage doors closed.
The first GSP takedown came seconds later. Diaz looked to work a submission but the champion controlled him, firing punches as Diaz tried to get up. A pair of GSP elbows produced a knot on the challenger’s forehead.
The crowd started chanting Ole Ole and “(blank) you Diaz.” GSP responded by dropping Diaz on his head, capping a dominant first round.