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UFC 158:

Analysis: With state of welterweight class, superfights of no use to Georges St. Pierre

Time to appreciate St. Pierre’s magic instead of hoping for bout with Anderson Silva

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mixed Martial Arts fighters Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz pose for the media following their news conference in Montreal on Thursday, March 14, 2013. The pair will meet in a UFC 158 title fight in Montreal on Saturday.

Before one of his fights someday, it just feels like Georges St. Pierre is poised to channel his inner angst-ridden adolescent and closely re-enact a scenario that’s played out in thousands of suburban homes.

You know, the one where the teenager’s report card is filled with A’s or A-minuses from top to bottom but the overbearing parents only want to know why it’s not all A-plusses.

“Will anything ever be good enough for you guys?” you can almost hear St. Pierre ask in his distinct French-Canadian brogue.

The welterweight champion will tie a company record for wins in title fights with 11 if he lives up to his status as a hefty favorite against Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 158 Saturday at the Bell Centre. He already owns one of the most under-appreciated records in sports — mixed martial arts’ closest equivalent to the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season in 1972 — from when he won 33 straight rounds from 2008-2011.

But St. Pierre is under a curse where it seems like his historical dominance is never allowed to fully soak in, where it seems like he’s always being asked for more. Accompanying every one of St. Pierre’s fights over at least the past four years, and probably longer, are questions about moving up in weight to face middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

It’s as certain to come up as a Diaz mean-mugging during a staredown photo. Even in the middle of the Diaz animosity circus over the past couple weeks, St. Pierre has fielded questions about Silva.

Diaz joined in with the popular chorus, slighting St. Pierre and wondering why he hasn’t sacrificed years worth of success at welterweight by packing on an 15 extra pounds to meet the best fighter of all time.

“Me and Georges St. Pierre, we’re a lot different with the way we go about our lives,” Diaz said. “For me, I look past every opponent so that I know I’m in this not just looking at one obstacle.”

“If it were up to me, I would take that fight with Anderson Silva. I would say, ‘Yes, of course.’ I’m looking forward to the next best thing always.”

Here’s a secret that hasn’t been all that well concealed: St. Pierre isn’t overly interested in fighting Silva. UFC President White swears on the contrary, that St. Pierre had come around and was “100 percent down” for the superfight before his ACL tear in late 2011. But St. Pierre has never given any indication of that publicly.

When the UFC did everything other than forcing Silva to confront him in the octagon after his victory over Carlos Condit last November, St. Pierre squirmed away and lobbied for the Diaz fight.

And, frankly, he’s earned that right. It would go down as monumental if it ever happened, but St. Pierre shouldn’t have to fight Silva.

Especially not right now when looking at his own weight class. Sharing the stage with St. Pierre on Thursday afternoon at the UFC 158 press conference were three top-flight welterweights — Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt — that he’s never been scheduled to face.

That’s before even mentioning the possibility of rematches with Diaz, who’s become the perfect Gene Hackman to St. Pierre’s Christopher Reeve, and Condit, whom the champion said gave him the toughest fight of his title reign. Oh, and add another four of the top eight ranked 170-pound fighters in the UFC that St. Pierre’s never fought.

“There are a lot of fights that make sense,” said White, who wants Silva vs. St. Pierre more than anyone else on the planet.

The narrative that St. Pierre is close to cleaning out the division is false. If the welterweight class was a garage, St. Pierre just barely finished sweeping.

His 18-month layoff after multiple knee injuries allowed the sides to get cluttered from floor to ceiling with potential opponents.

The talent pools for Silva at middleweight and Jon Jones at light heavyweight are significantly shallower. If the UFC must make a superfight — and White promised it would before the end of the year — that’s the one to pursue.

Silva and Jones are the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC rankings, with St. Pierre at No. 3. Silva has fought three times at light heavyweight in the UFC, knocking out all of his opponents in the first round.

Getting “the Spider” to move up to a weight he’s familiar with makes so much more sense than sending St. Pierre to a class that’s as foreign to him as getting accosted by California soccer moms.

St. Pierre will never escape overtures from other champions. That’s partly because he sells more pay-per-views than anyone in the sport.

Lightweight champion Benson Henderson recently threw his name into the conversation as someone who wants to face St. Pierre. It was yet another nice thought, but St. Pierre should be busy enough for the time being.

“I don’t care about what is coming next,” St. Pierre said. “For me, my life ends March 16 when I fight Nick Diaz. That’s going to be another chapter career.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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