The next fight for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is yet to be determined, but if he stays at 170lbs, the choice seems pretty clear to at least one guy who he should be facing.
Currently on vacation in France, St-Pierre hasn’t had much to say about what comes next for him, whether it’s a welterweight title defense or bumping up in weight to face middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a super fight.
St-Pierre’s coach Firas Zahabi however recently stated that he believes if his fighter stays at welterweight that former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz deserves a crack at the belt ahead of current top contender Johny Hendricks.
Zahabi stated that Hendricks was deserving, but Diaz had done more and beaten more high profile opponents to stake his claim to a title shot.
In the battle of words amongst coaches, Johny Hendricks‘ coach and MMA nutritionist Mike Dolce vehemently disagrees with Zahabi’s choice.
“Johny Hendricks is the No. 1 contender in the welterweight division. He has proved that with devastating knockouts of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, and he beat Josh Koscheck, sick as a dog. There’s no excuse there, Johny’s never mentioned it, but I’m going to mention it right now, when Johny fought Koscheck he was so sick and if he ever released his medical records to show how sick he was, it’s amazing he even got in the cage, fought as well as he did, and beat Koscheck,” Dolce told MMAWeekly Radio on Thursday.
“Johny’s the No. 1 contender, and I’m a huge Nick Diaz fan. I will pay to watch Nick Diaz fight every time he steps into the cage, I always root for Nick Diaz, but Nick has not beat anybody in the UFC welterweight division yet. He has not earned his shot for biggest title in the world as 170lber, Nick hasn’t earned it yet.”
If it’s strictly about numbers, Dolce has them on his side and Zahabi doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.
Over the past 10 fights, Diaz has gone 9-1 with his only loss coming by way of unanimous decision to former interim UFC champion Carlos Condit. Impressive as the record may be, the only win Diaz holds over a top ten welterweight at the time of the fight is his knockout of former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Paul Daley.
Outside of that win, Diaz has done nothing but beat up the competition but his list is littered with names like K.J. Noons, Thomas Denny, Evangelista Cyborg, and Scott Smith. All solid veterans, but none who sit in the top ten at 170lbs.
Looking at Johny Hendricks’ record over the last ten fights, there’s a much different story to be told. He is also 9-1 with his only loss coming by decision to Rick Story, but his wins include knockouts over top ten staples Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, as well as a decision victory over Josh Koscheck.
Now if it comes down to a money fight, that’s where Zahabi might have a point when looking at Nick Diaz vs. Johny Hendricks as potential opponents for St-Pierre. Diaz has been a proven star and magnetic personality, while Hendricks has yet to carry a pay-per-view or even headline a UFC event during his career with the promotion.
But as Dolce points out, if it’s about money or the biggest fight possible, St-Pierre would be fighting Anderson Silva, not Nick Diaz.
If it’s about beating the best welterweight in the world, Dolce says the choice is clear and Johny Hendricks is the guy who has clearly defined himself as the top contender at 170lbs.
“If you want to talk about a money fight, if GSP wants a money fight, he fights Anderson Silva. If it’s about the money, he bumps up, he fights Anderson, and he makes the biggest payday in all of mixed martial arts history,” said Dolce.
“If he’s not fishing for that payday and he wants to defend his title, he has to defend his title against Johny Hendricks, who is the clear cut No. 1 contender. It’s the end of the story.”