Once upon a time, UFC 137’s co-main events were matches that revolved around the Welterweight championship. In the Level B bout, Carlos Condit would square off against “The Prodigy” BJ Penn and one level up, George St. Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion) would duke it out with Nick Diaz (Strikeforce Welterweight Champion) to unify the division titles.
Then comes September 8th, 2011…the day of the official UFC 137 Press Conference. All the headline fighters were in tow, all except Diaz. It was learned the day of the press conference that Nick Diaz would not show up. It’s been reported that Diaz has anxiety issues, to the effect where he’s only comfortable in front of people when he’s in the cage.
Knowing the fighter that Diaz is and barring all embarrassment, White forgave Diaz and plugged him into the co-main event with Penn. Enter the opponent that White has struggled with all of 2011, the injury bug.
A few weeks ago, St. Pierre suffered a knee injury in training that forced out of the main event. Since Condit has earned his slot as the number one contender, White has awarded him more time to train for GSP, once he fully recovers. What does this do for the UFC 137 main card? It elevates Penn and Diaz into the main event slot. Diaz, with anxiety issues and all, has returned to his original slot.
Now on to the fight! Both fighters have excellent stand-up. Both are Jiu-Jitsu/submission artists. Here’s where they differ. Diaz can take punches, but the question is, “Is he on the brink of taking too many?” If so, that won’t bode well for him given that Penn is one of MMA’s top-tier punchers. Penn has his faults as well. One of particular note is his cardio. It’s been shaky throughout his career. That won’t be favorable for him, facing a cardio machine in Diaz.
While I think every element mentioned will show itself in this bout, I think the punching power and accuracy of Penn will take Diaz’s chin places it has yet to go. This one goes the distance, but it will do so decisively, in favor of “The Prodigy”.
By Antoine Hoffman