The personal animosity was greater, the atmosphere more intense. But the welterweight championship bout that headlined UFC 158 at the Bell Centre on Saturday was almost a clone of so many Georges St-Pierre victories over the last five years.
The only difference following St-Pierre's punishing five-round victory over Nick Diaz was what came after.
St-Pierre dominated in the Octagon, easily winning all five rounds on all three judges' cards. But then Diaz showed up in the late stages of the news conference and once again stole the show.
Among the nuggets he dropped:
• He'd like a rematch, after losing 50-45 on all three cards and mounting next-to-no offense.
• He believes St-Pierre has little power and "hits like a girl."
• He wants to retire
• He thinks he matches up well with pound-for-pound champion Anderson Silva.
• And, most amazing of all, he said he hasn't paid taxes ever in his life.
"I'm probably going to jail," Diaz said as UFC president Dana White put his head down on the podium in disbelief.
It was that kind of a night.
An angered St-Pierre had vowed in the pre-fight hype that he would put the worst beating on Diaz that anyone had gotten in the UFC.
And while St-Pierre was thoroughly and utterly dominant, it was far from the worst beatdown delivered in UFC history. It was a typical St-Pierre fight. If you'd seen his fights against Jon Fitch or Jake Shields or Carlos Condit or any of a number of other guys, you pretty much have the idea of what happened Saturday.
When the fight ended, St-Pierre tentatively offered his hand to Diaz, who shook it. The two embraced and then Diaz patted St-Pierre on the cheek. When St-Pierre grabbed the microphone, he told the crowd the heat that seemed to exist was all part of promoting the pay-per-view. White opined in a different manner when asked about it after the fight.
"Do you believe [that was fake]?" White asked. "I know what to believe. I've been in the middle of all that [expletive] for frigging three months. … If that was an act [from Diaz], he's one hell of an actor. Maybe he should go get a part in a [movie]." St-Pierre clearly wasn't sure what to expect from Diaz when the fight ended. He wanted to embrace, but Diaz had been swinging at him at the end of every round – including on one occasion well after the bell had rang – so he wasn't sure.
"We had animosity before the fight, but after the fight, yes it's true, we hugged," St-Pierre said. "Then, right when I went to do an interview with [Fuel TV's] Ariel Helwani, Ariel told me he said I hit like a girl and wants to fight me maybe in a rematch.
"Oh, Nick Diaz. We are back to where we were, but I don't take it personally. I respect everyone who does this job. It's a very tough sport we're in."
St-Pierre busted Diaz up, as he does to most of his opponents. He quickly took Diaz down once the fight began and started firing elbows.
Diaz offered plenty of reasons for the loss, including that he wasn't properly prepared. He said his team-mates, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez, have fights upcoming and couldn't spar with him like they normally do.
He said he wasn't going to switch teams, but then segued into an unbelievable answer in which he admitted not paying his taxes.
"No, I can't be jumping teams," he said. "I just have to invest a little money, now that I have some money. You know what? I've never paid taxes in my life. I'm probably going to go to jail. … But no. No. No one want to hear that kind of talk or what is going on with me."
No one could guess what is going on with Diaz. He suggested he might retire, talked about fighting Carlos Condit, said he wants a rematch with St-Pierre and said he had "a million and one excuses why I lost this fight."
St-Pierre won it because he was what he usually is: Quick, athletic and exceptionally smart. He had the perfect plan, realizing there was no way it would make sense to stand with Diaz.
"I had to stay out of boxing range," St-Pierre said. "I had to be in kickboxing range, either all the way in or all the way out."
He may get a bigger challenge next time out when he faces Johny Hendricks. Hendricks won a barnburner of a fight from Condit and earned the title shot.
Condit, who has lost to St-Pierre and Hendricks in back-to-back bouts, called it "an interesting fight."
"Johny has really good wrestling, as does Georges," Condit said. "Their striking is different. Georges' striking is very polished and crisp. Johny has more power and is more of a brawler."
Hendricks may be the man to give St-Pierre more of a test than he's gotten the last several years. But he'll never make a fight as memorable as Diaz did.
"This was a very weird fight," St-Pierre said, beaming.
Even when he was routed, Nick Diaz stole the show once again.