TORONTO -- Before stripping down to fight in a cage, how about slugging it out over the phone?
That's what UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and challenger Nick Diaz did Thursday, clashing on a media conference call ahead of their main event matchup at UFC 158 in Montreal on March 16.
It was an entertaining if sometimes confusing war of words as the stylish champion from Montreal jousted with the snarly California fighter with a giant-sized chip on his shoulder.
"I don't understand half of the words that you're saying," St-Pierre said during the height of the debate. "I speak English better than you, man. Talk to me like a normal human being."
Replied Diaz:" You're talking (crap) and you're out of line, bro. Straight up. You understand that, right?
It started with Diaz lamenting the lack of respect he gets, in part due to the way the UFC is promoting this fight.
"I like to be known as someone who kept it real," he said. "I just don't like that I'm made out to be this evil person that needs to be shot down ... if anything I'm like the super-hero coming in with the anti-bull."
He told the story of being at a stop light on home turf in Lodi, Calif., when "some soccer mom sticks her head out the window and she's like "I hope GSP beats your ass.'"
"I'm living in a small town full of people that hate me," he added.
The 31-year-old St-Pierre (23-2) is anything but a trash-talker. But the UFC has built this fight up as the champion looking to teach some respect to the brash challenger.
Diaz's initial ire seemed to come from the UFC's video promotion, which shows UFC president Dana White speaking for St. Pierre in October 2011 when Diaz and GSP were originally slated to fight.
After beating B.J. Penn at UFC 137, Diaz accused the injured St-Pierre of ducking him. St-Pierre was in the stands watching.
"GSP flipped out tonight," White is seen telling the news conference that followed. "He said that 'Nick is the most disrespectful human being I've ever met and I'm going to put the worst beating you've ever seen on him in the UFC."'
In another UFC 158 promo, the champion says Diaz had made him reach into a "dark place."
Adds GSP: "Nick Diaz deserves to be beat down."
Said Diaz: "I'm not a disrespectful human being. I don't deserve to be beat down."
If he was making waves, he said he was because he wasn't getting the attention he deserved.
"I'm coming here to whup this guy's ass and ... nobody knows who I am. I guess everybody does but as far as like your mainstream magazines and your Nike, Adidas and all your good stuff. I'm left out of that," he said.
Diaz also complained that if GSP calls him disrespectful, people believe it.
"When you say something, everyone believes it, dude," he said. "Everybody wants to know what Georges thinks, what Georges says."
The conference call turned nasty after a reporter, following on the challenger's words in a rambling four-minute answer, asked the champion if he was pampered.
Before St-Pierre could answer, Diaz jumped in.
"I hope so," said Diaz, kicking off a 13-second interjection that contained six variations of the F-bomb.
"If I had that much money, I'd be pampering myself the (blank) up. I'd be having (people) pamper my (stuff) left and right. There'd be (people) every hour on the hour showing up to pamper me out. Period."
Said GSP: "Let me tell you something, uneducated fool, listen to me."
Diaz then countered. "I'm not stupid, I can tell what's what."
"Yeah, you look pretty smart right now," St-Pierre replied.
Then the champion said his piece.
"I've not always been like this. I've not always been rich. I started from the bottom. I made myself, I worked very hard to be where I am now. I know you don't believe this because you didn't succeed yet. And maybe you will never succeed in your life because I don't think you're smart enough to understand (what) you should do to reach that point."
St-Pierre then told Diaz about the need to have people working for him "to make the money rolling."
"That sounds nice, Georges," said Diaz. "If I wore some tight shorts out there and got a haircut and I had someone buttering me up halfway through tell me this (crap), maybe it would have worked out. But I doubt it. You don't even know where I come from."
"You don't know anything about me, man," said St-Pierre.
By the end of the exchange, Diaz had admitted he was "a fan" of St-Pierre.
"I appreciate everything he does," he added.
That didn't stop him from taking a few shots at St-Pierre's fighting style.
St-Pierre also admitted there was nothing personal between them. But don't expect the two to exchange Christmas cards.
The two fighters may come from different worlds, but neither had anything given to them on a plate.
The 29-year-old Diaz (27-8-1) is a talented fighter from Stockton, Calif., who is as prickly as they come. He marches to the beat of his own drum, as shown by the one-year suspension he just served for testing positive for marijuana.
He can come across as a thug-like boor, but there's more to Diaz than meets the eye.
The "UFC Primetime" show before his fight with Carlos Condit showed Diaz as a loyal, single-minded athlete -- triathlons are part of his training regimen -- willing to dispense with the social niceties in search of excellence.
But he doesn't play well with others and was bumped from a 2011 date with St-Pierre after failing to show up for news conferences in Toronto and Las Vegas.
In contrast, St-Pierre has become an MMA corporation as champion, with blue-chip sponsors like Under Armour and Gatorade. He likes to wear Armani and dine in style.
He is the anti-Diaz.
"Like my life's a mess," said Diaz. "I'm not afraid to admit it. I work hard regardless through this (stuff)
"But I don't have people towelling me off and handing me water bottles left and right and getting my training ready for me. I've got to do all that (stuff) on my own."
St-Pierre had little sympathy.
"If you are where you are right now and I am where I am, it's not my fault, it's because of you, man. You did not succeed because of you."