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Nick Diaz made his long-awaited return last year at UFC 266 when he took on Robbie Lawler in a featured middleweight bout. But before Diaz made the walk to the cage, he ran into an old foe backstage: UFC Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre was there cornering his teammate Nasrat Haqparast, who also was fighting on the card, and despite the previous bad blood between the two, St-Pierre and Diaz shared a handshake and went about their business. But when it was all happening, at least in the moment, the former UFC two-division champion wasn’t sure how things would play out.
“When it happened, he was walking towards me — and with Nick Diaz, you never know,” St-Pierre said recently on The MMA Hour. “So I was like, I took a stance in a way, like I didn’t know if he wanted to come to fight me or he wanted to talk to me. [Laughs].
“But when I saw him physically reach out to me with his hand I went, ‘Oh, OK,’ and I reached out and I shook his hand [and thought], ‘So it’s peace, I guess.’”
St-Pierre and Diaz had a very public feud surrounding their welterweight title fight at UFC 158, with the two men participating in one of the most intense press conferences in UFC history. It was arguably the most animated St-Pierre ever became during his entire career, but looking back on it, the legendary Canadian says that it was all promotion.
“Nick is one of the guys that took fighting very personal,” St-Pierre said. “Whatever that I said, I never wanted to hurt him on a personal level. I just said things to make the fight more interesting.
“I never had any animosity with him or any of the guys once I retired. For me, it’s only business.”
That business went extremely well for both men. UFC 158 reportedly sold 950,000 pay-per-view buys, the most of either man’s career.