Valeri Ignatov has taught Nick Diaz Sambo since the Stockton trash talker was 16 years old. A long time Sambo practitioner, Ignatov has won three bronze and two silver medals in European and International Sambo championships, and has also won several national titles in his native country Bulgaria. He fought in the earlier days of the UFC: UFC 19 vs. Evan Tanner and UFC 22 vs Matt Hughes. Ignatov currently teaches out of the Combat Sports Academy in Dublin, California.
Ignatov was a guest on Darce Side Radio Friday, and is very confident that Nick Diaz can win at UFC 158 vs. Georges St Pierre.
“For the first time in his fighting history, “GSP” is going to face a guy who can actually answer to his fighting style,” Ignatov said.
Diaz will certainly not be uncomfortable should he have to fight off his back, but St. Pierre has nullified many an opponents guard, and has displayed excellent top control throughout his title run in the UFC. Ignatov thinks Diaz can avoid that.
“If anybody can stop GSP’s guard game and control, it will be Nick Diaz because he has the tools to do it,” Ignatov said. “He can beat you with his hands, and he can beat you on the ground.”
Diaz can stand with anyone in the welterweight division, and will most likely be more than willing to engage on the feet with “GSP” come Saturday night. The obvious question is will St Pierre.
“Nick is going to hit him. It’s just a matter of time before “GSP” gets hit,” Ignatov said. “I have a feeling “GSP” will not like to stand with Nick.”
“If he is not able to hold Nick down on the ground, or if he doesn’t really like whats going on there, it’s going to be an uphill fight for him.”
Igantov stated that he and Diaz studied in depth, all the things “GSP” can do to Diaz, and they believe they have the answer for it.
“For most of his fights he’s capable of making the right decision for the right moment,” Ignatov said. “This is something that he possesses, it’s part of his psyche, it’s one of his talents.”
“He has a really open mind. He trains Sambo, he trains Jiu-Jitsu, he trains Boxing, Judo, even wrestling. This is what makes him a complete marital artist.”
Ignatov was asked about certain Sambo throws and techniques that could be effective against St Pierre.
“Sambo is a martial art within it’s own, and Nick is using it, it’s working for him. When he sees an opportunity to use it, of course he will because he is capable, he has that capability.”
Ignatov wouldn’t predict a win or method of victory, he did offer what he wished for his long time student.
“What I am hoping for is that Nick fights a smart fight. I’m hoping that he puts his heart out there just like he does every time and just makes smart decisions in the fog of war. If he can do that I think he will do fine against “GSP.”
“If we see some Sambo moves, don’t be surprised.”
*Audio of entire interview below