George St. Pierre has officially signed on to defend his welterweight championship belt against Nick Diaz at UFC 137. In a match-up of 'Champion vs. Champion', Diaz, the Strikeforce Welterweight title-holder, will make his first appearance inside the Octagon since Zuffa's high-profile purchase of Strikeforce. The event will take place October 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ever since the organization's purchase, and St. Pierre's subsequent title defense over Jake Shields, fans have been clamoring for a bout between the two streaking champions. Thus it seemed inevitable that these two would eventually meet. The UFC has a long history of making fights happen based on the wishes of the fan base, and this was no exception.
Dana White took to Twitter to announce the bout. "You wanted it, you got it," he wrote. "GSP vs. Diaz... UFC 137."
Yet, in early May it seemed as if the fight would never come together. The MMA community was shocked to hear Nick Diaz very publicly declare his intention to relocate to the sport of boxing. However, that sentiment quickly shifted a full 180 degrees on May 23 when a press release issued by the champion's boxing promoter, Don Chargin, stated that Diaz had been offered the "opportunity of a lifetime", and would stick with the sport of mixed martial arts for the time being.
Now on a ten fight win streak, the Stockton native has transformed into a beast since leaving the UFC in 2006. Diaz's most recent victory came in a back-and-forth brawl with former-UFC contender Paul Daley that could easily end up winning fight-of-the-year honors.
Nonetheless, he now faces an entirely different monster in St. Pierre. Already the longest running welterweight champion in UFC history, GSP has yet to taste defeat since early 2007. The French-Canadian's unbelievable athleticism and insurmountable wrestling base has stifled every contender within the division, leading the organization on an endless search to craft viable new title challengers.
If anything, the fight should provided a respite from the recent flood of criticism claiming that St. Pierre has become stagnant and fights far too passively. Diaz provides an atypical, aggressive style that may force "Rush" out of his comfort zone. Throughout his win streak the Strikeforce champion has finished nine of ten opponents, heavily contrasting against St. Pierre's tendency to go the distance. The UFC fan-favorite has won by decision in four straight title defenses.
Whatever happens, expect the buildup to this fight to be enormous. MMA fans are going to be in for a treat come October.