Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz
The UFC comes back home to Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on October 29th for UFC 137. The main event will include former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion ‘The Prodigy’ BJ Penn going up against former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz. Despite the loss of the Welterweight Championship bout on the card, UFC 137 presents many exciting fights with a few potential title challengers in the near future. The five main card bouts will be broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View while two preliminary bouts will be aired on Spike TV and Rogers Sportsnet. The remaining four fights will be live on Facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
BJ Penn –125 (16-7-2) vs. Nick Diaz –111 (25-7)
After the very disappointing removal of Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, a worthy main event has been bumped up the card as a replacement. Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz, was originally in the main event against GSP before he got himself into a little controversy with the UFC. He was demoted to another big time fight against another big time fighter and replaced by Carlos Condit. He now finds himself in the same position on the card but without the opportunity to become a UFC Champion. He is going up against former Lightweight and Welterweight Champion BJ Penn. Stylistically, this match is guaranteed to impress. The boxing of both fighters is unbelievable and the grappling makes the fight even more compelling. What separates these two warriors would likely be Penn’s ability to wrestle. With the unorthodox striking of Diaz stunning top strikers such as KJ Noons, Paul Daley and Evangelista Santos, Penn might want to take this fight anywhere he can get it to avoid the stand up. He could very well out strike Diaz but with the outstanding pace of Nick Diaz, there is no telling when Penn will eventually wear out, considering he is at a major cardio disadvantage. As seen against Jon Fitch, Penn can dominate any fighter no matter where the fight goes but his cardio has been a major issue in the past. Diaz does not have the same problem, as he constantly does not stop working through each and every round. This may be one of the toughest fights to predict considering all the variables that could swing the fight either way. Penn will likely take the safe route and work his jabs until he finds a good opening for a takedown as his top level BJJ slightly edges out Diaz towards a hard fought decision.
Prediction: Penn via Unanimous Decision
Cheick Kongo +110 (16-6-2) vs. Matt Mitrione –152 (5-0)
Two heavyweights that are making their way to contender status should be in for a stand up war. Cheick Kongo is returning to the octagon after coming off of one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history. After being virtually knocked out by Pat Barry, Kongo managed to recover after the beat down and score a flash knockout against the kickboxing star. Matt Mitrione has knocked out four of his five opponents, all of his fights being in the UFC. The Ultimate Fighter Alum has come a long way since he was on the show. His character and his work ethic are light-years ahead of what we witnessed on the reality show. Mitrione seems prepared to compete against the best fighters in the world as he has greatly improved his technical striking and has apparently become a much better grappling threat to compete against the strongest Heavyweights. Kongo has always had pretty good takedowns from up against the fence as he has always been able to grind out stoppages by ground and pound and he may look to do that against Mitrione. Kongo is definitely the better striker of the two but Mitrione could very well be the more dangerous fighter on the feet. He has the ability to walk through any punch and give back a few more, which may convince Kongo to hold on for dear life. Kongo will likely try to use his quickness and leg kicks to frustrate Mitrione but eventually getting in too tight and getting rocked. Mitrione knows how to finish opponents and will not let this fight go to the judges.
Prediction: Mitrione via TKO Round 2
Mirko Filipovic +220 (27-9-2) vs. Roy Nelson –333 (15-6)
The classic loser leaves town match between Pride legend, Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic and Ultimate Fighter 10 winner, Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson. Cro Cop was considered a dominant figure before he joined the UFC, and was considered a top three Heavyweight for a long period of time. That very same dominant fighter that was able to translate his kickboxing into MMA with excellent takedown defence quickly became an example of why the UFC has all the best fighters and everywhere else is just secondary. Win or lose, this could very well be the last fight in the legendary career of Cro Cop. He has been knocked out viciously in three of his five losses in the UFC and his opponent has the punching power to add another knockout loss on his record. Nelson knocked out Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve in his first two fights in the UFC, but ever since he received a major step up in competition, he has gone winless. Losing to number 1 contender, Junior Dos Santos is not a bad thing at all and to follow that up with a loss to Frank Mir does not usually make a fighter undeserving of being a part of the organization. His value for the organization has greatly diminished because of his inability to win a single round against either fighter while coming in completely out of shape with his trademark beer belly. Nelson is likely going to come into this fight against Cro Cop from 15 to 20 pounds lighter and will probably be too much for the Croatian if his cardio holds up. Cro Cop may be able to throw some solid punches as Nelson has never seemed to have great defence on his feet, but his punching power and his great ground game should be enough to dominate this fight anywhere he wants it to go.
Prediction: Nelson via KO Round 2
Scott Jorgensen (12-4) vs. Jeff Curran (33-13-1)
After struggling in the UFC and WEC, Jeff Curran found his way back under the Zuffa banner and has been given a tough test in his return as he goes up against former Bantamweight title challenger, Scott Jorgensen. Curran has a great submission repertoire, being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has submitted a fair share of his opponents. This fight will likely find its way to the ground as Jorgensen has great wrestling and dominant top position. He will also have the advantage standing up considering the large difference in speed and quickness. Curran is going to have to overcome many disadvantages if he wants to find a way to win this fight. Curran will need Jorgensen to take the fight to the ground so he could work his strong bottom game. Jorgensen, however, should have no problem controlling the fight on the feet, clinch and the ground. He will likely be able to do so as he batters Curran on the feet and eventually takes the fight to the ground for a dominant victory.
Prediction: Jorgensen via TKO Round 3
Hatsu Hioki –357 (24-4-2) vs. George Roop +225 (12-7-1)
Japanese fighters have a memorable history in MMA and Hatsu Hioki is arguably the most talented Japanese fighter of all time. He is taking on the very long and dangerous George Roop who is looking to make a run in the UFC but has a tough test in front of him. Hioki is carrying a heavy load on his shoulders as he is expected to come in and be the greatest challenge for Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. He is currently considered the second best Featherweight in the world and has proven himself worthy with huge wins over top Featherweights such as former title challenger Mark Hominick and Brazilian Marlon Sandro. He is currently training at Montreal’s Tri-Star Gym, under Firas Zahabi, with some of the best fighters in the world, which is a different route than what most Japanese fighters take. Roop has solid wins over Chan Sung Jung and Josh Grispi, however, his loss against Mark Hominick, where Hominick completely dismantled Roop on the feet, might be the biggest proof of the difference in talent between the two. Hioki is a great overall fighter, but his grappling ability should be the difference in this fight. Roop should be able to utilize his striking and length advantage to try to keep his distance but as soon as he allows Hioki to close the distance, he will be able to overpower Roop down to the ground as he should successfully win in his Octagon debut.
Prediction: Hioki via Unanimous Decision