Georges St-Pierre says he has a thick skin and can handle criticism, but Nick Diaz may have succeeded in getting under that thick skin ahead of UFC 158.
Diaz, whose mouth goes as fast as his feet and hands, is a +350 underdog on the UFC 158 odds menu at most sportsbooks for Saturday's card. With GSP firmly entrenched as a UFC betting favorite of -500 (at Bodog.eu), bettors want to know if there is any value on Diaz after GSP has personally pledged to beat him up - and shut him up.
"There is value, because if GSP loses his cool, that is the only way Diaz has a chance," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.
"But GSP hasn't been hit hard very many times in the past five years and you have to wonder if its possible for him to get sloppy in a title fight in his hometown."
Of course, that happened once before, back at UFC 69 in 2007, when slugger Matt Serra knocked him out in Montreal. That was a long time ago.
Diaz can outstrike GSP, but he risks a takedown if he stands in front of him. Then, wrestling and ground-and-pound take over and that's where GSP can control the fight, work for submissions or grind out a decision win.
And that's where another one-sided betting line resides on this fight at Montreal's Bell Centre. The over under on rounds strongly favors a decision, according to one book that made the over 4.5 rounds a -280 favorite position. Said another way, if you think the fight ends by KO or submission, it's a +220 payout,
Even on the feet, GSP's kickboxing can win rounds and bludgeon Diaz's legs.
"Nothing is guaranteed in MMA, but we see GSP trying his best to punish Diaz and we think he will go out of his way to submit or pound him out, maybe in the fourth round," said Randall.
Pick: GSP by stoppage in Round 4
The card features two major welterweight contender battles as well, with Johny Hendricks facing Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger taking on Nate Marquardt in his UFC return.
Hendricks is a -145 favorite and is itching for a title shot. But the champion wrestler has relied on his punching solely in recent fights. And why not, if you can knock out top contenders inside a minute?
Condit has never been knocked out and brings a versatile MMA game that got him through five rounds with GSP last year. Condit would pay +115 for the upset and we think he can frustrate Bigg Rigg for three rounds to win.
Pick: Condit by decision
Ellenberger won the last time he was on a GSP main card, beating Sean Pierson back at UFC 129. He is favored at -165 as of mid-week with Nate Marquardt a +135 underdog.
While Ellenberger has been winning (except for an upset loss to Martin Kampmann), it hasn't been against top competition. And while Marquardt is just 3-3 in six recent fights, his losses have come primarily at the hands of takedown specialists like Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen).
If Nate is allowed to stand and trade, his betting value increases as he is a physical beast. The question is whether his physique suffers by cutting the weight to hit 170 pounds, as he has fought mainly at middleweight (185 pounds).
Pick: Marquardt by decision
The rest of the card features Canadian fighters Nick Ring, Patrick Cote, Mike Ricci, Antonio Carvalho, Jordan Mein and John Makdessi. Chck out all the UFC odds on all major cards.
George Roop +110
Reuben Duran -140
TJ Dillashaw -550
Issei Tamura +400
Rick Story -400
Quinn Mulhern +310
Darron Cruickshank -180
John Makdessi +150
Dan Miller +210
Jordan Mein -270
Darren Elkins -240
Antonio Carvalho +180
Patrick Cote -185
Bobby Voelker +155
Mike Ricci -280
Colin Fletcher +240
Chris Camozzi -105
Nick Ring -115
Jake Ellenberger -165
Nate Marquardt +145
Carlos Condit +115
Johny Hendricks -135
Georges St-Pierre -550
Nick Diaz +425