Welcome back to the Roundtable Preview for UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz!
Of course, this wasn’t the card we were expecting less than two months ago…
The originally scheduled Main Event for UFC 137 was supposed to see the last Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz challenge the UFC Welterweight Champion, and the generally recognized #2 ranked Pound-for-Pound fighter in the world, Georges St-Pierre. Unfortunately, Diaz’s inability and unwillingness to participate in the required media junkets prompted Dana White to punish Diaz by pulling him from the Main Event, and replacing him with top contender Carlos Condit.
Diaz wasn’t off the hook for October 29, though, as he was reassigned to the Co-Main Event slot versus BJ Penn (Condit’s original opponent).
Even with the Main Event shuffle, this card was still one of the most anticipated all year. The undercard featured 2 BIG Heavyweight Matchups; undefeated fan-favorite Matt “Meathead” Mitrione vs. Cheick Kongo, and Roy “Big Country” Nelson vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
Unfortunately, a mere 12 days away from Fight Day, St-Pierre was forced to withdraw due to a knee sprain. Rather than try and shoehorn another fighter onto the show to face Condit, it was decided to have Condit pulled from the card all together, and let him wait for his title shot.
Ironically, this turn of events elevated Nick Diaz back into the Main Event with his battle against BJ Penn. So, while the loss of the Welterweight Title Match takes a bit of the sizzle off of the event, fans should still expect to see a night of fun and exciting fights.
Joining me at the Roundtable this week is a Who’s Who of friends and fans that would love nothing more than to be the King (or Queen) of us all:
Brian Willey – Owner/Operator of Effingham Computer Services in Rincon, GA (and the inspiration for the Kung-Fu Panda movies).
Scott Keith – Canadian, Internationally renowned author, Blogger, IWC Ranting Legend, (self-proclaimed) Smart-Ass, and King of RSPWFAQ.
Isaac Castillo – Currently in Kuwait, working and sweating his ass off in the desert for the greater good.
Frank Kline – Sports Junkie and Appliance Expert at Lowe’s Home Improvement. He would rather be fishing with his girls and watching Chris Leben KO Highlights than anything else.
Amanda Horton – Freelance Writer covering MMA and all things fast and exciting.
Stephen Bass – MMA Fighter, currently appearing on Season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Tadd Trueb – Graphic Designer for FIGHT! Magazine and Turner Classic Movies.
Larry Cassano, III – Boxing Columnist at UltimateSportsTalk.com, and Host of the #1 Rated, Highly Underappreciated, and GREATEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF INTERNET RADIO*, The Ultimate Fight Show.
Jenny Bragg – Queen of the Bragg Household. It is due to her nice kindness that I am allowed to have a life outside of her orbit.
Chris Bragg – Me, Myself, and I. I put this preview together, stalk MMA fighters and Pro Wrestlers on Twitter (@TheBraggMan), and Co-Host the #1 Rated, Highly Underappreciated, and GREATEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF INTERNET RADIO*, The Ultimate Fight Show.
*The claims made above about The Ultimate Fight Show do indeed represent the thoughts and opinions of UltmateSportsTalk.com, the participants of this Roundtable Preview, and the rest of the free World.
Let’s do this!
Jeff Curran vs. Scott Jorgensen
Brian – Scott Jorgensen by KO
Scott – I’ll take a shot in the dark and say Jorgensen by TKO in the 3rd Round.
Isaac – Jeff Curran
Frank – Jeff Curran
Amanda – Curran via Submission
Stephen – Jorgensen via Decision
Tadd – Facts (as I remember them, but are probably wrong): Urijah Faber is the only guy to have finished Curran in 10 years. Curran hasn’t finished a fight for a win in almost 5 years against lesser competition than Jorgensen.
Jorgensen will set the pace of this fight, and despite Curran’s wealth of cage experience, I don’t think he can match that pace with effective offense which will get him behind on the scorecards. I don’t know if Jorgensen’s pace alone will lead to a finish against a guy that knows every trick in the book, but a pretty easy 30-27 decision in Jorgensen’s favor seems probable. Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision.
Larry – Scott Jorgensen by Unanimous Decision
Jenny – Scott Jorgensen
Chris – I’ve become a big Scott Jorgensen over the last year, so I am picking him to win this one here by 2nd Round TKO.
(Scott Jorgensen 7-3)
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop
Brian – Hatsu Hioki by Decision
Scott – Roop by Decision
Isaac – Hatsu Hioki
Frank – George Roop
Amanda – Hioki via Decision
Stephen – Hioki via Decision
Tadd – From what I’ve heard from Roop leading up to this fight, I think he may be underestimating Hioki. In Sengoku, Hioki dominated Marlon Sandro and beat (but lost a shit decision to) Michihiro Omigawa – both guys I might slightly/definitely (respectively) favor over Roop. So by my own version of MMA math futures, I’m picking Hioki. I believe Roop has big finish fever and will be looking for that dramatic moment (high kicks, pulling a flying triangle if they get tangled in a clinch against the cage – something like that) but I believe one of those risks will get him put on his back and pounded out. Hioki via 2nd Round TKO.
Larry – Hatsu Hioki by Submission in 2nd Round
Jenny – George Roop
Chris – Hioki’s Submission skills are world class, and I expect him to use put them on display against a game George Roop. Hatsu Hioki via Submission, in Round 1.
(Hatsu Hioki 7-3)
Mirko”Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson
Brian – Cro Cop by Decision
Scott – This one could be ugly. Nelson was kind of exposed by Frank Mir, but if he catches Cro Cop with a good punch, he’ll be fine. Mirko’s downfall saddens me and I don’t see him turning it around here.
Nelson will probably send Cro Cop into retirement with a KO in the 1st Round.
Isaac – Roy Nelson
Frank – Roy Nelson
Amanda – Roy Nelson via Decision
Stephen – Nelson via Decision
Tadd – I love both guys. One was my favorite fighter for years, the other I resemble in certain areas. But, if I don’t see a head kick KO in the UFC before Mirko retires, I will be a very sad man indeed. My official pick is Cro Cop by head kick in minute one of round one just for old time’s sake.
This is what I actually think will happen. Nelson’s game plan, I would only assume. would be to rush inside Cro Cop’s reach and take him down from against the fence and put him where Nelson will have the biggest advantage. Nelson will look to “pitter-patter batter” him from side control like he did to Kimbo. Cro Cop clearly has a notoriously bad ground game, but he is hard to take down and keep down, which is something I think Big Country’s ego will refuse to recognize for the first half of this fight. I think this will leave Nelson looking for takedowns from out of range and forcing him to resort to throwing that haymaker overhand a thousand times that, unfortunately for Cro Cop, I think will eventually land. And we know how that looks. So basically, no matter who wins, I can take credit for calling it correctly. Cro Cop by KO Head Kick in Round 1 (FIRST MINUTE!).
Larry – Roy Nelson by Unanimous Decision
Jenny – Roy Nelson
Chris – I have picked against Cro Cop his last several fights, thinking he would be put out to pasture by a vicious KO. Why stop that trend now? “Big Country” by 1st Round KTFO.
(Roy Nelson 8-2)
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione
Brian – “Meathead” by KO
Scott – I’m intrigued by Meathead, as he’s been getting better and better since the Ultimate Fighter. This should be a big time slugfest, and although I’m cheering for Mitrione, I think Kongo is still the better fighter. Cheick Kongo by KO in the 2nd Round.
Isaac – Cheick Kongo
Frank – “Meathead” will finish Kongo (KO).
Amanda – Matt Mitrione by TKO
Stephen – Kongo via 2nd Round TKO
Tadd – There are a lot of unknowns in this fight. Can Mitrione win a fight against a guy with legit kickboxing on the feet? Can Kongo out-wrestle Mitrione and hold him down or GNP the entire fight? Will Mitrione gas out on the ground and give up a choke or TKO? How suspect is Kongo’s chin?
Mitrione will outweigh Kongo by 30lbs on fight day but, he has re-sculpted his body for this fight. He looks much leaner, which speaks to how seriously he is taking his conditioning, and perhaps his cardio, that has been a bit of a question mark in the past, won’t be a factor this time. That said, I still have to think Kongo will be the fresher of the two if the fight gets into later rounds (if Kongo doesn’t get knocked out and woken up 5 times during opening rounds), especially if Kongo completes a couple of takedowns and lands some leg kicks early to take some pep out of Mitrione’s strikes. If Mitrione doesn’t defend the takedowns against the cage and punish Kongo on the breaks, Kongo will grind out a decision win. It seems only slightly less likely to me, but if Mitrione got the KO in a takedown attempt scramble in the middle of the fight, it wouldn’t shock me at all. Cheick Kongo by Unanimous Decision.
Larry – Matt Mitrione by 2nd Round TKO
Jenny – Matt Mitrione
Chris – I have never been a Cheick Kongo fan, but have come to appreciate his toughness and resilience after his last few fights. With that being said, I LOVE “Meathead”, and will be vehitmately rooting for him to win this fight in spectacular fashion. Mitrione by KO in Round 2.
(Matt Mitrione 6-4)
Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn
Brian – BJ Penn by Submission
Scott – Tough one to call. Penn looked completely dominant knocking out Matt Hughes, but you’d have to think that Diaz’s striking is going to be at a much higher level than that. I think UFC might be hoping for another Penn vs. GSP rematch, so I’ll say Penn by Decision.
Isaac – BJ Penn
Frank – Diaz/Penn will be a war, If I have to pick, I will go Diaz by Decision.
Amanda – BJ Penn by Decision
Stephen – Diaz via 3rd Round TKO
Tadd – When two guys are great in a certain skill area, the fight is often contested for the most part in other areas. Similar to two college wrestlers that crazy-box for 3 rounds, Nick and BJ both have great boxing. So, by the “styles make fights” rule, this fight will likely finish elsewhere. There is the occasional exception to that rule for guys like…well like Nick Diaz (see P.Daley). But hey, let’s just conveniently ignore that.
They ARE both great boxers (for mma), but Nick hasn’t fought anyone in ages with boxing as good as BJ’s. The only minute differences between Nick’s recent opponents’ boxing and BJ’s is good head movement, good footwork, good counter striking, the ability to create good combos, and an iron chin (just those small details). The omnipresent question is about BJ’s conditioning (especially at 170). But really, his cardio has held against in bouts that were contested mostly on the feet.
How I think it will play out: Unable to land clean and getting tagged with counters, Diaz will be looking for takedowns. BJ should easily defend Nick’s lunging takedowns and make him pay in the transitions. If he can hurt Diaz on the way in for a takedown, or with a counter left hook on an angle and knock Diaz down, we all know that when BJ smells blood, the end is near and the finish will come via punches soon after. BJ Penn by TKO in Round 2.
Larry – BJ Penn by Split Decision
Jenny – BJ Penn
Chris – This should be a fantastic fight, and I am really looking forward to it! Before the Diaz/GSP fight fell through, I was actually leaning toward picking Diaz. After being demoted, then falling back into the Main Event, I feel that the Strikeforce Champion will have an even bigger chip on his shoulder, and will be looking to impress. As good as Penn looked at the weigh-ins, I still can’t be derailed from the Diaz train. Diaz wins this fight via Unanimous Decision.
(BJ Penn 7-3)
Well, there you go! Those are our picks, what are yours? Leave us your comments below.
And be sure to listen to The Ultimate Fight Show this (and every) Saturday at Noon ET. Larry Cassano and I will be previewing this big show, give you all the news, notes, and results from the worlds of MMA and Boxing, relive some classic action with our Legendary Nights in Fighting History Series, answer the Question of the Week, and take your calls on whatever is on your mind.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween, and enjoy the fights!