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BJ Penn Accepts Rory MacDonald’s UFC Fight Challenge

June 06, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

One of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA is coming back. Former UFC champion BJ Penn is ending his hiatus and will be returning to the octagon. Penn has verbally agreed to an upcoming fight and will return to action at welterweight.

Penn has accepted a challenge from young UFC welterweight star Rory MacDonald. MacDonald laid out the challenge on the MMA Hour. This is the second challenge thrown at Penn in the last few weeks, Josh Koscheck being the other. Unlike the Koscheck fight, Penn has responded on his website with a “yes!”

“In speaking with the director of BJPENN.COM, and after contemplating the matchup and possible return to action with his advisors, BJ Penn issued the following response to Rory MacDonald…
Rory, I accept your challenge!
Now all that is left is to get the UFC on board and put “Penn” to paper.”

It is interesting to me that Penn accepted this challenge and not Koscheck’s (or a proposed Gilbert Melendez fight a few months back). Both Koscheck and Melendez are much better draws against Penn than MacDonald. Not too many people outside the hardcore MMA fan base know or care about MacDonald. The other and most important factor is that I think of the three, MacDonald presents the toughest fight to Penn. I would have easily picked him against Kos, possibly picked him against Melendez, but will likely pick against him in this one.

BJ Penn announced a long break or retirement after losing to Nick Diaz last year. Right or wrong, nobody took Penn’s retirement seriously. Penn’s name has come up in potential fights over the last few months as if he was still a full time fighter. Koscheck recently revealed that the UFC asked him to “stir it up” in hopes of drawing Penn out of retirement. Maybe he should have taken a more polite approach like MacDonald?

This fight could present a huge headache to Dana White. MacDonald trains with champion Georges St-Pierre and the two are reportedly good friends. I would be really surprised if MacDonald were to challenge GSP if given the opportunity due to their relationship. I am sure the UFC could withhold that title opportunity under the conditions that MacDonald gets one more win. If that happens, we could have a potential Jon Fitch vs. Josh Koscheck on our hands once again.

A win by Penn would make a fantastic story and set up a potential fight with GSP. Penn beating the young, upstart would immediately establish his credibility as a UFC welterweight title contender. Throw in the storyline of Penn defeating GSP’s protege and you have the makings a nice grudge match for 2013.

Again, I think this is a tough fight. I admire BJ coming back and taking the tough fight against the up and comer rather than the big dollar fight against an aging veteran like Koscheck that probably would have been much easier. Regardless, it is great to see the Prodigy back in the UFC mix once again.

UFC: Best of 2011 DVD

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Updated: Josh Koscheck Accepts UFC Fight Against BJ Penn

May 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The greatest lightweight in UFC history may be gearing up for a return to the octagon. BJ Penn appears to ready to end his lengthy hiatus from the UFC. Josh Koscheck appears to be the lucky or unlucky fighter who will welcome back the Prodigy in the near future.

Former The Ultimate Fighter competitor Josh Koscheck broke the news first on his Twitter account. Koscheck sent out a tweet today indicating that a fight with he and Penn is on the horizon.

#UFC just offered me to fight BJ Penn…I said YES!!!!! Just waiting on him!!!!!! Let’s scrap bra?”

Now to be fair, the fight has yet to be confirmed or officially announced anywhere else. Is this Koscheck playing games with the MMA media and fans or is he really pumped to fight the former UFC lightweight champion? The MMA media is reporting this as the real deal so for the sake of argument, I’ll defer to them.

It should also be noted that Penn hasn’t officially accepted. According to one tweet by Front Row Brian (who is usually pretty damned accurate with his reports), Penn is not interested in the fight. I am a bit confused on this one. How can the UFC offer Koscheck a fight with someone who isn’t interested in the fight? This is a tough one because Brian seems to have a source close to Penn due to some of the tweets Brian has posted in the past about Penn wanting a rematch with Diaz badly, yet I can’t see how the UFC can offer a fight that isn’t available to one of its top fighters.

I’ll play devil’s advocate at this point as if the fight is on. I love this fight! I think it has the makings for a real fun battle. It is almost a perfect get-well fight for Penn who is coming off a loss to Nick Diaz that saw Penn lose a unanimous decision. Penn looked great early on but seemed winded and confused as the fight progressed against Diaz. A win would have likely earned Penn another crack at the UFC welterweight title. Penn announced his retirement immediately after the fight.

Right or wrong, nobody took Penn’s retirement seriously. Penn’s name has come up in potential fights over the last few months as if he was still a full time fighter. It was recently confirmed that Penn turned down a fight against current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez because Penn had no interest in “downgrading” and fighting in Strikeforce.

I think Penn still has the potential to put together a small win streak and earn a championship shot. Stars like Penn appear to have a much easier time getting championship fights after a few wins as opposed to some fighters that are kept out of the mix after numerous wins. If GSP can put Diaz and Condit behind him, a third fight with Penn could be a real possibility. It is probably more of a possibility if GSP loses one of those fights. The UFC could match the two back up in a title eliminator situation.

Penn’s return brings to light a problem the UFC has had in creating new stars. While the UFC has created a handful of new stars the last few years, nobody has reached what I would call “superstar” status. Jon Jones is close but who else is even remotely close? The dirty little secret here is the UFC continuing to promote fighters past their prime to fans as if time is standing still. I am a Penn fan but I hope that the UFC isn’t enticing Penn to come back at the cost of his legacy.

Regardless I am pumped for the fight! I’ll take Penn in a decision.

Update: Koscheck now claims that the UFC asked him to stir it up on Twitter and there was no agreement in place to fight. “Me and B.J. have a good relationship. It’s business, and, you know what? I like to have big fights. I think that B.J. is the type of fighter that would be a big fight for me. The UFC asked to try and stir up something. You know, I do my job well, and I went on to my Twitter account, and just kinda said, ‘Hey, B.J. Let’s do this fight.”

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BJ Penn Turned Down UFC Fight With Gilbert Melendez

May 04, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

B.J. PennI can’t think of a major personality in sports that lies more to his media than Dana White. The UFC president’s latest bust comes a little over a month after denying that BJ Penn vs. Gilbert Melendez was on the table. The president now admits that fight was indeed on the table.

If there is one thing that bugs me about Dana White it is his consistent lying to the MMA media. It’s not the lying that is so bad. What gets me is when he vehemently denies a report or rumor, attacks the writer for reporting it, and yet later it is revealed that the report or rumor was right. At some point the MMA media just have to ignore anything this guy says and just ignore the guy completely. However that is another rant for another day.

The latest White-ism as I will call it comes with a new revelation that a reported fight proposal which he originally denied was guess what…very real. White confirmed in a recent interview that the UFC proposed a BJ Penn vs. Gilbert Melendez Super Fight to Penn several weeks ago. Unfortunately for fight fans like me who would have loved to see the bout, Penn turned it down.

When White was asked about the fight by MMAJunkie.com he said.

I tried to do [Melendez vs. Penn], but it was at the time when B.J. was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not fighting for a while.

Amazing! I say amazing because Melendez’s manager Cesar Gracie casually mentioned that a fight between Penn vs. Melendez was in the mix back in March. Here is what Cesar told Tatame.com when it came to Melendez’s future fight plans.

Melendez’s situation is complex right now. We still don’t have an opponent, date or place set. They said he could fight in San Jose but it’ll probably change. They mentioned Josh Thomson but then said it was not going to happen. It depends on the relationship between Dana White (UFC president) and Showtime (TV channel that broadcasts and managers Strikeforce). That’s the problem. I spoke to Joe Silva (UFC’s matchmaker) and he told me maybe some UFC fighters will go to Strikeforce. We would really like to see him fighting Pettis or BJ, but we are still not sure about what’s going to happen.

Here is what Dana said when he was asked about it at the time.

That’s not true. That’s absolutely not true. But I have been talking to B.J. Penn. I talked to B.J. Penn last week and it was the first time that B.J. and I talked since his fight. He’s just chilling right now. He wants to relax and figure out what he wants to do with his career. I’m working on Melendez. Melendez is all over my a$$.

There are a couple of things at play here. Remember a few months back when there were several reports of Melendez close to signing with the UFC? Even Dana at the time mentioned something about Melendez moving over. I expected it to happen, it sounded like Melendez did when talking about it, yet he never made the move. My hunch is that the plan was to move Melendez over with a big fight against Penn (like Zuffa did with Overeem in matching him up with Brock). Once the Penn fight was off the table it didn’t make sense to move Melendez into a division that is already muddied when it comes to the title picture.

At the same time, the statement by Gracie would seem to indicate that Penn could have moved to Strikeforce. I don’t think that ever would have happened. I can’t imagine the UFC giving up the pay per view money made on a Penn vs. Melendez fight by having the fight take place on a Strikeforce show. Yet once again, a lot of what Gracie said at the time is now looking like the manager was being completely candid so who knows. I would say there was virtually no chance of the fight taking place in Strikeforce but who knows what kind of deal with Showtime was on the table.

It also appears that Melendez will be sticking around Strikeforce as long as there is a Showtime deal. If the UFC were going to pull Melendez over, it looks like that would have happened several weeks ago. It is a bit of a shame because I think Melendez is in his prime and would do really well in the UFC. Melendez was the first Strikeforce fighter to publicly call out the UFC fighters and yet at the end of the day, nothing came out of it.

As much as I would have loved to see Penn vs. Melendez, I don’t know if I want to see it in 2012. Give me that fight in 2010 and I would have been counting down the days until fight time. Unfortunately I think Penn is past his prime and would get taken apart by Melendez. It would have been a fantastic way to introduce Melendez to the UFC, but it really isn’t worth the sacrifice of a legend like Penn in my opinion.

The big positive here is that White and Zuffa recognize Melendez’s talents and are trying to find the best opponents for him. Unfortunately they are going to have to start looking outside of Strikeforce if they expect to find anyone that can give the Strikeforce lightweight champion a run for the money.

UFC: Best of 2011 DVD

UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans DVD

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Georges St-Pierre Vs. Nick Diaz Off, GSP Out 10 Months

December 07, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

GSP injuredIt looks like MMA fans will have to wait…oh another 10 months before they get to see one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history. The planned Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz UFC 143 championship fight is off as GSP will need surgery for a blown ACL, putting him out of action until next fall.

UFC president Dana White broke the bad news on Twitter Wednesday afternoon with the following tweet.

GSP blown acl will be out for 10 mos.,” White tweeted. “Now Condit vs Diaz for the interim welterweight title on Feb 4th in Las Vegas!!

So there you have it. The fight originally planned for UFC 137 will get its second delay, pushing the fight back until somewhere between September-November 2012, barring a miracle comeback from GSP. At 30 years old one has to question whether this is the start of the champion’s body breaking down after 9 years and 24 fights. This marks GSP’s third significant injury in the last few months. Whether it is a coincidence or not will only be answered when Rush makes his return in 2012.

I am starting to think that GSP vs. Diaz may just be a cursed fight. This is the second cancelation of a fight that now won’t take place until deep into 2012 at the earliest. The newest scratch is just the highlight of an injury-rampant year for the UFC which now sees its third biggest fight (Jones vs. Evans, Lesnar vs. Dos Santos) pulled from the schedule due to injury. I don’t care how strong your company is, when you lose three huge money fights like that in one year, you will be taking a huge hit financially.

The UFC will move into Plan B and match Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz for the interim UFC welterweight championship. Condit may be the luckiest man this year in the UFC as he now finds himself thrust into a championship fight for the second time that he didn’t earn. Yes Condit has won four in a row, but beating Kim Dong-Hyun is hardly what I’d consider a win to that earns you a title fight. Yet it does in the UFC.

There is the possibility that Diaz could look past Condit. Although right now, Diaz’s camp are saying all of the right things to squash any notion that the former Strikeforce champion will take his new foe lightly.

I believe he’s better than GSP standing and not as good a wrestler, and [he doesn't have] as good of a top game,” Gracie said. “I believe standing up, Condit is actually a more formidable opponent. So Nick is not known to force a takedown, so it’s actually a harder fight, as far as standing.

I look for Nick Diaz to thrive in this situation. Diaz has been unstoppable, winning 11 straight fights, and jumping back to the UFC as the Strikeforce welterweight champion. Diaz’s last fight saw him destroy BJ Penn at UFC 137, winning a unanimous decision. A Diaz win here and against another fighter would make his inevitable fight against GSP quite possibly the biggest fight in UFC history. From a business standpoint, the long term gain here could be enormous. At the same time, a Diaz loss or worst yet, two in a row would rob the UFC of millions of dollars. They got real lucky with the Penn fight, but nothing is ever given in MMA.

The UFC has some big money riding on upcoming fights in 2012. Evans vs. Jones, GSP vs. Diaz, and Lesnar vs. Dos Santos has the potential to bring even more money in 2012 than any of those fights would have brought this year. However, the chances of every card falling into place for the UFC are dubious at best. Jones vs. Davis, Dos Santos vs. Overeem, and Condit vs. GSP just don’t have the same ring to them.

UFC 137: Penn vs Diaz DVD

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Top Five BJ Penn Greatest UFC Moments & Fights

November 01, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC career of BJ Penn has had its ups and downs, but for nine years it was full of ups. Whether Penn truly retires from fighting or not, he will always be remembered for his legendary moments. Today I look back and celebrate five of his all time best.

BJ Penn upsets Matt Hughes to win the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 46

BJ Penn stepped up at a time where nobody wanted to fight Matt Hughes. Hughes was arguably the most dominant fighter of this period, winning 13 straight, and turning away all challengers in the welterweight division. Penn volunteered to move up for the competition and came into the fight as a huge underdog. 4:39 into the fourth round, Penn shocked the world when he beat the unbeatable via rear naked choke and becoming welterweight champion in his division debut.

BJ Penn pummels Sean Sherk at UFC 84 to retain the UFC lightweight championship

This fight was huge at this time! Sherk was suspended and stripped of the title after he tested positive for PED. Penn would win an interim title fight to win the belt while Sherk was suspended. Sherk received a title shot on his first fight back and Penn was none too happy about it. Penn repeatedly called Sherk out for his PED pop to the disgust of Sherk and the UFC. There was serious bad blood here. By the end of the fight, it was all Sherk’s blood…splattered all over the cage. Penn put on a clinic, dismantling Sherk on their feet. Penn rocked Sherk with a flying knee that is now a UFC classic moment. Penn never looked better and shut up any doubters that criticized Penn for winning the title from someone other than the champion.

BJ Penn crushes Joe Stevenson to win the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 80

This certainly wasn’t the most glamorous fight of BJ Penn’s career but it was one of his greatest moments. Penn took apart Stevenson for two rounds, looking his absolute best in a title opportunity. Penn choked out Stevenson in round 2 and in another classic UFC moment, licked Stevenson’s blood off of his gloves. Penn was young, hungry, and unstoppable. This was an important night and the first of what would become one of the most dominant championship reigns in UFC history.

BJ Penn destroys Caol Uno at UFC 34 in 11 seconds

Like Stevenson, Uno vs. Penn isn’t a fight that will go down as a blockbuster matchup. However, Penn’s performance here was arguably the one that put turned him into one of the UFC’s biggest drawing cards. Uno was billed as Penn’s first real test, a test which Penn passed with an A+. Uno came out charging Penn with a flying knee, Penn stepped aside, and then began to pummel Uno into unconsciousness for 11 seconds. The fight was stopped and in my opinion, this was the night BJ Penn became a headliner.

BJ Penn rearranges Diego Sanchez’s face at UFC 107

This was arguably the last great fight from the legend. Penn was 4-0 at lightweight and just finished dominating Kenny Florian for five rounds at UFC 102. Sanchez was billed as a guy that would be Penn’s biggest threat and toughest challenger. How tough was he? He brutalized Sanchez so badly that the fight was stopped in the fifth round due to a nasty cut on Sanchez. This was only the second time that a fight had a finish in the fifth round. Penn was magnificent on this night. Sadly, those five rounds may have been the last dominant performance we’ll ever see from The Prodigy.

There have been some great moments since then, but that was likely his last great complete fight. That first round he had against Jon Fitch was a reminder of how great he was. Unfortunately, he had another round and a half to remind fans that he may not be the fighter he once was.

BJ Penn’s loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 was the worst of his career. Whether Penn comes back to fight or not, I think the days of BJ Penn The Prodigy have passed. Fortunately for Penn, the memories will never fade, and for eight years he was arguably the best pound for pound fighter of that time period.

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UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Results – Diaz Retires Penn, GSP vs. Diaz Back On!

October 30, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

What a crazy month this has been for the UFC, specifically the welterweight division. The once much anticipated Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre went from on, to off, and is now…back on thanks to a dominating win at UFC 137 by the new welterweight challenger.

Diaz vs. Penn was every bit as exciting as I had hoped it would be. The battle of former training partners started off with a great round for Penn. Penn got the takedown most thought he needed in the first round and kept Diaz on the ground. This was Penn’s best shot at winning so it was no surprise he avoided a stand up war with Diaz. Unfortunately that didn’t ground Diaz for long as once back on their feet it was that stand up battle Penn tried to avoid. Penn won the round but you could feel the tide turn by the end.

Diaz opened the round with a leg kick and a right hand that missed. After a little cage work, Penn went for the single leg which was blocked by Diaz. Diaz again opens up on Penn. Diaz at one point for the takedown which never happened. Diaz found his range here and just started peppering Penn with strikes that had the former champion in big trouble. The second half of the round was all Diaz.

The third round will go down as one of the most exciting of the year. Penn went for broke and this one turned into a striker’s delight. The two traded for most of the round, Diaz specifically opening up on the body. Penn had a comeback towards the end which rocked the house, but it wasn’t enough. Penn’s face told the story here as Diaz finished the round and the fight strong. Diaz wins the fight 29-28, 29-27, and 29-28.

The post fight was awesome as Diaz takes a page out of Chael Sonnen’s book and calls out the champ. Diaz told the crowd that he doesn’t believe St-Pierre is hurt, he believes he is scared. The fans hated that one but it got the attention of the champion. Penn said it was probably the end for him, and unofficially retired. He is only 32 so I would be really surprised if it really was the end of The Prodigy but regardless, he sure went down swinging.

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As exciting as this was (and it was), the hours after the fight have been just as exciting out of the octagon for the UFC. Dana White hinted at the press conference that he had a big announcement to make. He did…on Twitter.

Dana has never seen gsp the way he was tonight – nick will fight gsp – condit has agreed to wait

Gsp has called nick the most disrespectful person I have ever met and plans to beat him.

Nick will fight gsp super bowl weekend – Diaz says he has to play the bad guy to get a fight, people want to see him get his ass whooped

GSP also released this official statement, “This is what I wanted since the beginning. Let’s do what was supposed to be done originally. I’ve always wanted this fight — now I want it even more. I can’t wait for Superbowl weekend.

So there you have it! In the last twelve hours you had Nick Diaz successfully return to the UFC and get his 11th straight win, BJ Penn retire, Diaz call out the champion, and the UFC announce arguably its biggest fight in history for Super Bowl weekend. I’d say it was a very eventful weekend for the UFC.

The UFC took a huge gamble here and luckily for them, it paid off. Quite frankly the whole idea of canceling Diaz vs. Penn over Diaz failing to show up for a presser is ridiculous. They “punished” by Diaz by putting himself into the position to earn even more money for what would have been the biggest fight of the year. Diaz did his part and the UFC did theirs to make this thing right. Now the UFC goes from having the biggest fight of the year turn into arguably the biggest fight in company history.

In other UFC 137 news, Cheick Kongo defeated Matt Mitrione via unanimous decision or as I like to say, exposed Mitrione as a fraud. I don’t hate on many UFC fighters but I just find it impossible to like Mitrione. He has a big mouth and walks around as if he has beaten Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture when in reality he hasn’t beaten anyone of note. He did very little here and lost to a guy that most consider yesterday’s news. I don’t know what you do with either one of these guys at this point, but this now puts Kongo at 3-0-1 in his last four UFC fights.

Pride FC legend Mirko Cro Cop also fought his last fight in the UFC and in MMA after losing to Roy Nelson. Nelson knocked out Cro Cop in the third round of what I thought was a really fun fight. Following the fight, Cro Cop thanked the fans and the UFC executives and said it was his farewell fight. Now this I believe was a true retirement from a UFC fighter.

Full UFC 137 Penn vs. Diaz results & winners…
Clifford Starks defeated Dustin Jacoby via unanimous decision
Francis Carmont defeated Chris Camozzi via unanimous decision
Ramsey Nijem defeated Danny Downes via unanimous decision
Brandon Vera defeated Eliot Marshall via unanimous decision
Bart Palaszewski defeated Tyson Griffin via KO (punches) at 2:45 of round 1.
Donald Cerrone defeated Dennis Siver via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:22 of round 1
Hatsu Hioki defeated George Roop via split decision
Scott Jorgensen defeated Jeff Curran via unanimous decision
Roy Nelson defeated Mirko Crop Cop via TKO (punches) at 1:30 of round 3.
Cheick Kongo defeated Mitrione via unanimous decision
Nick Diaz defeated BJ Penn via unanimous decision

 

UFC 137: Penn vs Diaz DVD

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UFC 137: Penn Vs. Diaz Predictions & Analysis

October 28, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Good day fight fans, after a long haul of card shuffling the UFC is bringing another event to the Pay Per View airwaves this Saturday night. With Welterweight Champion GSP pulling out with a rare injury, this card has lost it’s original main event several times now. The card is now headlined by a still very intriguing bout between Welterweight boxing specialists and Jiu Jitsu masters BJ Penn and Nick Diaz.

There are a number of intriguing bets on this card and since I’m unfortunately a bit short on time this week, I’m going to focus only on the fights I’m interested in making a play on. For all other fights, I’ll simply offer a small bit of analysis and a fight prediction. As always all betting lines are the best available market lines from BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com)

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Dustin Jacoby (-110) vs. Clifford Starks (+113)

Admittedly I know very little about either fighter. With a bit of YouTube searching, I’ve found a bit of footage from each fighter. However, from the little that I’ve seen, it’s hard for me to make an accurate prediction of the fight. Starks looks like he has decent stand up skills and is currently undefeated at 7-0. However, the strength of his opposition is questionable at best. Jacoby is also undefeated with a 6-0 record, but he has stopped all of his opponents, only one ever making it out of the first round. Jacoby at 6’4″ will also hold a significant height and reach advantage for the fight. With those intangibles on his side, I’m going to go ahead and predict him to win this fight, but I won’t be betting it. Dustin Jacoby via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi (-128) vs. Francis Carmont (+118)

Francis “Limitless” Carmont is a Vale Tudo fighter from Paris, France. He is a very experienced fighter who is making his UFC debut with over twenty fights under his belt, so he should be relatively free of octagon jitters. Chris Camozzi is also no stranger to the octagon. The former TUF cast-member should be recognizeable to most casual UFC fans from his time in the Ultimate Fighter house. Camozzi is also making his return to the UFC after a big win over a very big name fighter in Joey Villasenor. I think Camozzi has the better overall skill sets both standing and wrestling offensively. He should be able to control the pace of the fight and the placement of the fight en-route to a Unanimous Decision. Chris Camozzi via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem (-185) vs. Danny Downes (+180)

Ramsey Nijem was the runner up on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter and was a member of Team dos Santos. Nijem stopped all of his opponents on the show on his way to the finale where he eventually lost to the winner Tony Ferguson. Danny “Danny Boy” Downes is a young fighter from the Roufusport Fight Team. Fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin he is a Muay Thai and Tae Kwan Do fighter who trains with an elite team of strikers including Alan Belcher and Anthony Pettis. I think Nijem’s edge in wrestling will play a key factor here. I don’t think Nijem is the world’s greatest fighter, but I think he has the toolset to take home a decision in this one. Ramsey Nijem via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Light Heavyweight Bout: Brandon Vera (-375) vs. Eliot Marshall (+350)

Brandon “The Truth” Vera is getting another shot in the UFC after his last loss was overturned to a No Contest when his opponent Thiago Silva tested positive for steroids and tainted urine. He hasn’t won a fight since 2009 and has spent a fair amount of time on the sidelines with injury. Against his last several opponents he has been outwrestled and outworked on the ground. Eliot “The Fire” Marshall is a former cast-member of the Ultimate Fighter season 8. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who has struggled against strong strikers in the past. This line is fairly well set, as Marshall has not done well against fighters with strong striking skills and power. Vera a confident and talented kickboxer, but constant underperformer, has the skills to defeat Marshall in this one. Brandon Vera via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Featherweight Bout: Tyson Griffin (-296) vs. Bart Palaszewski (+300)

Tyson Griffin is a strong and compact wrestler who was doing well in the UFC’s ultra-stacked 155 pound division. However, three straight losses caused him to return to his former weight class at 145 pounds. In his Featherweight debut for the UFC he defeated Manny Gamburyan via Majority Decision. Griffin is a strong wrestler who trains with the Xtreme Couture camp in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a short and stocky fighter with decent power, but a suspect chin. Over the years Griffin has shown improvement in his stand up skills, but his bread and butter is still the ground game and his smothering top control.

Bart “Bartamus” Palaszewski is a Polish American fighter, who fights out of the Team Curran gym in Illinois. He is a boxer and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Jeff Curran. Palaszewski is a very experienced fighter with over forty career bouts on his resume. He will be making his UFC debut in this fight. He has strong technical boxing skills and excellent grappling credentials. Against a strong wrestler like Griffin, it will be tough for him to get on top, but if he does, he will likely be able to exploit Griffin and work him over on the mat.

This one is likely going to come down to Griffin’s ability to get the fight to the ground and control the bout there. Palaszewski has strong defensive wrestling skills and competent stand up. I think this fight will actually look similar to his fight against Kamal Shalorus. Despite the fact that Palaszewski lost the fight, it was a Split Decision and was extremely close. Getting 3-to-1 I’ll take a chance that Palaszewski can get the job done this time. Bart Palaszewski via Split Decision

Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Lightweight Bout: Dennis Siver (+215) vs. Donald Cerrone (-225)

A good friend of mine actually likes the underdog in this fight a lot. Despite trying to find a reason to agree with him, I can’t seem to find one. Dennis “The Menace” Siver is a German and Russian fighter who is a former Sambo fighter and Kickboxer. He is currently riding a four fight winning streak including wins over George Sotiropoulous and Matt Wiman. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a very talented fighter, who has never seen a punch he didn’t want to take on the chin. The American fighter is a strong Muay Thai Kickboxer with strong wrestling and a lot of grappling talent.

Cerrone should have a significant edge on the ground. His grappling credentials speak for themselves and his 12 wins via Submission should prove how dangerous he is. Standing up Cerrone is a competent enough kickboxer to stand with Siver, however, despite his ability to take a punch, Cerrone oftentimes engages in slugfests despite his best interests. If Siver wants to pull off the upset, he’s going to need to test the usually iron chin of the Cowboy in one of the exchanges. But as it is, I expect Cerrone to box for a while, before playing it smart in the second round and taking Siver down and submitting him with a Rear Naked Choke. Donald Cerrone via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki (-325) vs. George Roop (+300)

Hatsu Hioki is one of the best Featherweight fighters in the world. The Japanese fighter is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter with top level grappling skills. He is a former TKO and Shooto World Champion at Feathweight. He holds a career record of 24-4-2 with 16 stoppage victories. Hioki has strong boxing skills, but uses it sparingly in his fights. He prefers to use his stand up to close the distance and work the fight to the mat, where he is an extremely aggressive grappler. He constantly pressures to pass guard, searching for dominant positions where he can unleash ground and pound or grab for submissions.

George Roop is a kickboxer who is relatively lanky for his weight class. He is a former pupil of Team Tompkins. He will be fighting for the first time since the death of his coach and mentor, making it tough to tell how much the recent death of Tomkins will factor into his mindset enterring this fight. Roop uses his range and a strong jab to establish control of the Octagon while using his size and reach advantages to threaten with big knees and strong kicks.

This is a fight that Hioki should win. He is a better fighter, with a clear path to victory. If he can get this fight to the ground, he should be able to exploit Roop’s relatively weak grappling skills. Hioki has good enough stand up to hang in there, but this fight gets a lot closer standing than it does if he gets the fight to the mat. There are a few factors that make me like Roop here as a 3-to-1 underdog. He has been in the position of underdog before and has won, so he knows how to spoil the party. Also, Hioki will be fighting stateside for the first time, and Japanese fighters oftentimes perform underwhelmingly in their first fights in the US. Combined with Roop’s size and reach advantages and I’ll take a small shot with Roop here. George Roop via Split Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Bantamweight Bout: Scott Jorgensen (-412) vs. Jeff Curran (+355)

Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a former college wrestler who now fights out of Boise, Idaho. Jorgensen is an extremely aggressive young fighter who is always moving forward behind his power punches. He also blends a fair amount of takedowns to control his opponents on the mat and works his ground and pound to search for a stoppage victory or simply to batter his opponents and win rounds on the judge’s scorecards. With a career record of 12-4, he has proven to be an upper-tier Bantamweight fighter, in his last fight, his UFC debut he demolished Ken Stone, winning by KO in the first round.

Jeff “Big Frog” Curran is a 34-year-old veteran of the fight game. He is most well known for his talent in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where he is a 2nd degree black belt. He runs his own gym and fighting team out of Island Lake, Illinois, where he is the coach of his cousin and Bellator tournament standout Pat Curran. During his last run in the WEC he had a tough time going 0-4, however those losses were all to elite level fighters, including Mike Brown, Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez. Curran will look to use his boxing to set up a takedown and get on top of Jorgensen, where he should hold a grappling edge.

Jorgensen is the favorite in this one and he should be. He is the younger fighter, who has more paths to victory. He will likely be the quicker fighter in the cage come fight night, and many people seem to think that Curran is over the hill as a fighter. However, Curran is a veteran and he holds a significant grappling edge. Wrestlers are notoriously bad off of their backs, so if Curran can get Jorgensen to the mat, he might find success with his submission attempts. It’s likely that Jorgensen wins, but getting over 3.5-to-1 I think there’s a bit of value on Curran, so I’ll be making a small play. Jeff Curran via Submission in Round Two

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Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Mirko Filipovic (+241) vs. Roy Nelson (-240)

I think this line is fairly well set. Cro Cop is basically just a shell of his former self. Despite all of his interviews saying he’s back in shape I will simply not believe it until he shows it to me in the cage. This is likely his swan song fight. He is entering the fight coming off of back-to-back KO losses and has looked discouraged in his past few fights. Roy “Big Country” Nelson has all of the tools to beat an out of shape and over the hill Cro Cop. Nelson possesses strong grappling skills with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He also has solid stand up skills, with a strong ability to counter punch.

I expect that Cro Cop will come out patiently, which will eventually become his down fall. He is no longer the stalking fighter from his PRIDE days and Nelson knows it. Nelson will push the pace, always being wary of the potential for a Left High Kick from the Croatian. Nelson will likely push Cro Cop against the cage and search for a takedown. From there it should be fairly academic as he easily passes guard into mount and begins to deliver ground and pound on his way to a stoppage in the first. Roy Nelson via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cheick Kongo (+123) vs. Matt Mitrione (-130)

Cheick “The Darkness” Kongo is a French fighter from Paris. He has been training in martial arts since he was 5 years old, when he started learning Karate. Kongo has strong stand up skills from his time spent training Muay Thai and Pencak Silat. Kongo has also shown some improvement in his wrestling and grappling skills in some of his most recent fights, choosing to take his opponents to the ground and work ground and pound against them. He is also the only fighter to make it to a decision against the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione, is one of the Heavyweight division’s most intriguing talents. At 33-years-old he is by no means young, but he is certainly a rising prospect. He is a former professional football player who made the transition to MMA later in his life. He was a cast-member of the Heavyweight season of the Ultimate Fighter, where he entered the house with no professional MMA experience. Despite losing in the semi-finals of the show, Mitrione has gone undefeated since, running his record to 5-0. He has shown improving stand up skills, as well as a strong wrestling base.

I like Meathead in this fight and think that there might still be a bit of value on him up to -150. However, after that, you might want to consider looking at the underdog Kongo. I think this fight lines up well for Mitrione though. He trains at Roufusport Gym with Duke Roufus, who is a high level kickboxer, so he will have seen plenty of what Kongo brings to the table, during his training for this fight. In his previous fights, Kongo has been hurt or rocked relatively easily and Mitrione has shown big power in his punches, stopping four of his five opponents by strikes. I think Mitrione will be able to test his stand up abilities against Kongo before eventually taking the fight to the ground and absolutely battering Kongo with ground and pound before a referee stoppage in the second. Matt Mitrione via TKO in Round Two

Main Event (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Nick Diaz (+120) vs. BJ Penn (-125)

Nick Diaz has the story you’ve been hearing leading up to this fight the whole time. Somewhat crazy, hates the media, refuses to “Play the game” as Dana White calls it. Diaz was scheduled for the original main event of this card, but lost his spot after skipping two media conferences. He was then re-inserted into the co-main event to battle BJ Penn after Penn’s initial opponent Carlos Condit took Diaz’s spot in the main event. Diaz has openly complained about the switch, but has still managed to do a decent job of hyping up this fight against Penn and still hyping a potential future match against GSP, by calling him a slew of derogatory names. The point still remains that Diaz is entering this fight on a huge roll, winning his last ten fights, not losing since 2007. Diaz has a swarming boxing style. Throwing a high number of punches to batter and rattle his opponent and although no individual punch does a lot of damage, the accumulation of damage adds up as he continues to throw. Diaz actually is one of the best body punchers in the sport of MMA, as most fighters rarely use body punches to wear down their opponents, but Diaz uses them frequently. On the mat, Diaz has black belt level Jiu Jitsu and is extremely dangerous off of his back. Using his long limbs and a very active guard, he is a handful for anyone who takes him to the mat.

BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is one of the most successful fighters of all time. He is one of the best BJJ practitioners in the sport of MMA today. He also has strong defensive wrestling skills and great balance, all which he uses to keep his fights standing. On the feet he has strong technical boxing skills, with a strong use of the lead jab and big power in both hands. He has found success in the UFC both as a Lightweight and a Welterweight as he is a former UFC Champion in both weight classes. Penn is entering this fight off a Majority Draw against Jon Fitch in a fight that he dominated the first two rounds, before gassing out and being completely outworked in the third, by the much larger Fitch.

Diaz will have a 4-inch reach advantage and in a fight that is likely to take place mostly in the stand up realm is relatively significant. Diaz is also the more active fighter standing and actually holds a couple of records on CompuStrike for most punches thrown and most punches landed in a single MMA round. Penn is likely the harder puncher of the two, but both have extremely strong chins and their Jiu Jitsu will likely cancel each other out. So this fight is likely destined for a judge’s scorecard. I think this fight is extremely close, a near 50-50 split. So I’m taking the underdog Diaz in this one. Getting +120 in a fight that should be a near pick ‘em is a bit of a gift, so I’m going to hit this one fairly hard.

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Georges St-Pierre Injured, Out Of UFC 137

October 18, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

GSP out of UFC 137The injury bug has bitten the UFC once again. UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre injured his knee today and has pulled out of his UFC 137 fight with Carlos Condit. This is just the latest of several card changes to what has turned out to be one of the most cursed main events of the year.

Dana White made the announcement today on Twitter to the surprise of MMA fans and enthusiasts excited to see GSP fight in less than two weeks.

I just land in NYC and what do I always say!? I have to deal with bad sh*t everyday!! GSP is out with an injury!!! #oneofthosedays” – @DanaWhite

The crushing news comes just eleven days before the scheduled fight. The short notice leaves the UFC without the ability to come up with a new fight for UFC 137. Instead, Dana White announced that they will move Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn into the main event slot and keep Condit on the sidelines until the champion is recovered.

This is a huge blow to the UFC and the sign of a much bigger epidemic. The UFC has now had every divisional champion affected by injury in 2011. In addition to that, the UFC has now had over 10 main-event or co-headlining fights changed due to injury in 2011. While this is something most MMA fans have learned to live with, it could get ugly with new, more casual UFC fans that the company picks up with the Fox deal. Once okay, twice alright, but 10 times in a year may be a bit too much for a fringe fan to handle in 2012.

GSP’s trainer Firas Zahabi told MMAJunkie.com that the injury happened earlier today in a sparring session.

After he cooled down, I knew he couldn’t fight anymore,” Zahabi said. “I’ve been around, I’ve seen injuries, and I know that that kind of injury is going to take at least two to five weeks of not standing on it for it to be really good (and) sturdy to fight. That’s just me estimating with what I’ve seen in the past.

Let’s face it. UFC 137 has turned into a complete mess thanks to the Nick Diaz debacle. Quite frankly, I don’t understand how the UFC can justify holding Condit out to get his title shot, that he never really earned. The logical solution in my opinion is to sit Diaz, and put the Penn vs. Condit fight back on in the main event spot. White already said that Diaz would be under consideration with a win anyway. So now Diaz is going to have to fight again before he meets GSP? The UFC is playing a very dangerous game here with what is arguably the most anticipated championship fight of 2012.

Josh Koscheck did offer to take the fight according to Dana White on Twitter. Dana passed. I think that was a smart move. If Koscheck wins, now Dana is boxed in to giving fans either Kos vs. Diaz or a GSP vs. Kos rematch. If Koscheck loses, now you sacrificed one of your big draws in a no-win situation. Neither is the way to go right now from a promotional standpoint.

All in all, UFC 137 is still a super strong card on paper. You still have Penn vs. Diaz as Mitrione vs. Kongo, Nelson vs. Cro Cop, and Siver vs. Cerrone. I have seen the UFC charge fans for a lot worse. However, it is still hard to ask fans to pay the same amount of money for a show in which you promised them a championship fight featuring one of your biggest stars.

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