UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre states the reason he wanted to face Nick Diaz is because in his mind he was the No. 1 contender for the belt.
The long reigning champion was quizzed on Wednesday during a UFC 158 pre-fight press conference in Montreal about his decision to ask the UFC to face Diaz instead of current top contender Johny Hendricks.
St-Pierre says there were a few factors at work, including the idea that it was the fight the fans wanted to see most.
“It's different reasons why – first, Nick and I were supposed to fight before, and this is the fight everybody wants to see. This is the big fight people wanted to see. People wanted to see this fight more than me fighting any other guys,” St-Pierre said.
The other reason St-Pierre says he opted for Diaz was because of Johny Hendricks' 2012 performance against Josh Koscheck at UFC on Fox 3. In that fight, Hendricks pulled out a close split decision victory, but St-Pierre believes the fight should have gone the other way.
The Canadian wasn't as interested in facing Hendricks, who he believes lost to an opponent he's already bested twice in the Octagon.
“My other option was Johny Hendricks and Johny Hendricks, when I watched the fight with Josh Koscheck, according to me Josh Koscheck should have won that fight, so I didn't want to fight a guy that lost to a guy I beat,” said St-Pierre.
“I think for me Nick Diaz is the No. 1 contender. He's proven himself many times before, and there is a story between us. It's a big fight everybody wants to see. Nick wanted to have that fight for a long time. I wanted to have that fight for a long time. Now it's time to do it.”
Not splitting hairs or anything, but it has to be noted that Nick Diaz's last fight was a loss to Carlos Condit, the same opponent St-Pierre beat in the UFC. Even back in November when St-Pierre was facing Condit, he stated on numerous occasions that despite a close fight, he thought the former interim champion got the best of Diaz.
“Seeing it live, I give (Condit) the win for that fight. I believe he did very well. He hit Nick much more than Nick hit him and I believe he should have won. I loved that fight; I thought it was one of the greatest fight of the night,” St-Pierre said last year when preparing for Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
Add to that the fact that Diaz also has losses to Karo Parisyan and Sean Sherk, two opponents St-Pierre also beat (albeit several years ago), and his case doesn't seem to hold as much water when regarding Hendricks.
Regardless, St-Pierre's choice has been made and he's going to face Nick Diaz next at UFC 158.
As for Johny Hendricks, who now squares off with Jake Ellenberger at the same card in Montreal this March, he will likely get the next shot at the champion assuming he comes away victorious. Like anything else in the UFC, it's not a guarantee, but right now Hendricks is leading the pack of contenders.
“I would have to say the Johny Hendricks thing, if Johny Hendricks looks good and wins his fight, it will probably be Hendricks,” said UFC president Dana White. “But then again who knows, we'll see what happens that night.”