Georges St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz for the UFC welterweight title.
Less than two years ago, it was the only fight mixed martial arts (MMA) fans wanted to see — St-Pierre, riding a nine-fight winning streak as champion, against Diaz, himself on a 10-fight win streak and considered by most judges to be the only true contender for the title.
After a delay brought on by injury and other controversies, fans have been forced to wait until next weekend to finally watch the two fighters go at it in the Octagon.
You'd think fans would be rejoicing that the two are finally about to step into the Octagon. So why is it now that so many fans are complaining about the headline bout for next weekend's headline bout at UFC158?
We speak to the champ, St-Pierre, as he's in the middle of a gruelling training camp to prepare for the unorthodox striking and aggressiveness that Diaz brings to the table.
He's just come off a round of media interviews in which he's been continually questioned about his desire to defend his belt against Diaz – instead of the new kid on the block, Johny Hendricks. In the months since "GSP" and Diaz were first scheduled to fight at UFC 137, the bearded former collegiate wrestler Hendricks has rattled off three straight victories over top contenders. Two of the victories have earned Hendricks knockout of the night bonuses and made him an instant fan favourite.
In truth, the push for Hendricks to fight for the title, instead of Diaz, is warranted. Hendricks is currently rated the number one contender in the UFC's welterweight division, ahead of Diaz [number three]. Diaz had the chance to earn a title shot against St-Pierre last year, but lost a unanimous decision to former WEC champion Carlos Condit, whom St-Pierre convincingly defeated in his return from his knee injury.
There's little doubt that St-Pierre's strong return to the Octagon following his injury-enforced layoff has been fuelled at least in part by his desire to finally face off against Diaz.
After rejoining the UFC following parent company Zuffa's purchase of the Strikeforce promotion, Diaz was pulled from the main event against St-Pierre at UFC137 because he failed to fulfil his media obligations. It led the normally mild-mannered St-Pierre to describe Diaz as "the most disrespectful human being I have ever met".
Quite obviously, St-Pierre believes there's a score to settle, and UFC president Dana White was happy to give the champion the fight he craved, given his long years of service to the organisation.
In typical fashion, St-Pierre refuses to trash talk his opponent. Instead, he's quick to instead push Diaz's credentials as the number one contender ... even if the UFC rankings team, and the fans, don't agree with him.
"Hendricks is good, but you know, I believe Diaz is better than Hendricks," St-Pierre said.
"Hendricks won against [Josh] Koscheck, but I believe I would have given that fight to Koscheck.
"If Hendricks wins the next fight, I'm going to fight Hendricks next. But I believe now it's time for Diaz ... this is a fight that's supposed to happen."
A victory over Hendricks in his next fight would complete a clean-out of the welterweight division and lend further weight to calls for St-Pierre to move up to middleweight to challenge that division's long-time champion, Anderson Silva.
"Everyone asks me this question all the time," he remarked on the inevitable GSP vs Silva questions.
"I take one fight at a time. I want to do big fights, I want those big fights. I want to beat the best. [But] I have business I need to care of with ... Diaz."
If you ask the bookmakers, the business with Diaz will be a straightforward deal. Off the back of his demolition of Condit, a man who proved too classy for Diaz, St-Pierre is a $1.19 favourite to Diaz's $4.70.
St-Pierre may well justify that prohibitive quote, given his training camp has been first class and he enters the fight at full health.
"Training going well, no injuries. I'm feeling the best I have in my life and I'm ready for the fight," he said.
"I brought [over] two guys from Thailand, and I also brought in Tom Breese, the [welterweight] champion at BAMMA [British Association of Mixed Martial Arts] from Birmingham, England."
As well as sparring sessions with former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, St-Pierre had an opportunity to train with Australia's multiple Muay Thai world champion, "John" Wayne Parr.
"He [Parr] is an amazing guy, a great experience for me to have the honour of training with a high level Muay Thai fighter like him," St-Pierre said.
"It was a great experience sparring Muay Thai with him. I learnt a lot."
Parr, himself an international superstar in kickboxing circles, was impressed with the intensity of the workouts at the Tristar Gym where St-Pierre is based.
"They've got a lot more things to work on ... wrestling one day, Muay Thai one day, jiu jitsu another day. He does a lot of gymnastics as well," Parr said.
"We walked in halfway through their wrestling session, so we sat and watched the first day. I sort of had that whole star-struck [pose], watching Georges and Rory Macdonald and all these UFC boys rolling around on the ground doing their wrestling. I was like, 'damn, this is crazy'."
Parr said the opportunity to spar St-Pierre and his top 10-rated teammate, Rory Macdonald, as they were both in full training was a terrific experience – both for himself and the MMA fighters.
"For that first 10 seconds, I was like 'I can't believe I'm sparring Georges St-Pierre'," Parr said.
"[But] he's really respectful, a really nice bloke. It was such a big honour being in the same ring with him, let alone move around with him, it was really cool."
At just 31 years of age, St-Pierre is already a UFC veteran, with 20 of his 25 mixed martial arts bouts taking place inside the Octagon. And now that he's over the first truly serious injury of his career, he's certainly not looking at winding down anytime soon.
"I love my job. As long as I have a smile on my face when I wake up in the morning and I love what I do for a living, I'm going to do that as long as it takes me," he said.
"I really enjoy doing it, I love it. It used to be very hard for me, now I can benefit from everything I want with the sport with the money and everything, I'm very blessed, very lucky to have that and I really enjoy my life."
One thing that is certainly on the agenda, though, is a visit to Australia – potentially with a training camp at Parr's Boonchu gym on the Gold Coast.
"I would love to go to Australia. Hopefully ... I'll have a chance to visit my friend John Wayne Parr at his academy to spar with him and learn some more Muay Thai tricks. It would be interesting and a good trip for me to do in the future."
UFC 158 — March 16, 2012 at the Bell Centre, Montreal
Welterweight title bout: Georges St-Pierre vs Nick Diaz
Welterweight: Carlos Condit vs Johny Hendricks
Welterweight: Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt
Middleweight: Chris Camozzi vs Nick Ring
Lightweight: Mike Ricci vs Colin Fletcher
Welterweight: Patrick Côté vs Bobby Voelker
Featherweight: Darren Elkins vs Antonio Carvalho
Welterweight: Dan Miller vs Jordan Mein
Lightweight: Daron Cruickshank vs John Makdessi
Welterweight: Rick Story vs Quinn Mulhern
Bantamweight: TJ Dillashaw vs Issei Tamura
Bantamweight: George Roop vs Reuben Duran