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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.

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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.

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Top Five BJ Penn Greatest UFC Moments & Fights

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

BJ PennThe 11-year 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

 

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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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Nick Diaz In Line For Title Shot With Win Over BJ Penn At UFC 137

October 13, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

Dana White Nick DiazIt is hard to get punished in the UFC, especially when you are Nick Diaz. Diaz was disciplined for no-showing press conferences by being pulled from the UFC 137 main event. Yet Ironically, he now has an even bigger chance to make more money than he would have made before.

This whole Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz mess is one of the most confusing stories I have ever seen in professional sports. The fight had the potential to not only be the biggest UFC fight of the year, but possibly ever. Yet the fight was canceled when Diaz didn’t show up for two press conferences. As strange as it was to cancel such a blockbuster fight over a meaningless press conference, the follow up has been even stranger.

While White told reporters once the fight was scrapped that Diaz was on the verge of being fired, somehow Diaz not only saved his job, but managed to wrangle the semi-main event of the show. So yes, while Diaz will make less money, he will still be making the most money he ever had in his entire career. On top of that, Diaz will now get an easier (not easy) opponent in an aging BJ Penn. The UFC has sure laid down the law with Diaz right?

As strange as these moves have been, the strangest of all may have come this week when Dana White said that Diaz would get a title shot at the GSP vs. Carlos Condit UFC welterweight title fight winner if he beats Penn. So wait a second? Diaz will now have a chance to reintroduce himself to the UFC audience with a big win over a UFC star, thus increasing the money he will make for the fight that was pulled away from him because he was “punished?” That is exactly what the boss has in mind.

Dana was asked by the folks at MMAWeekly.com flat out if Diaz beats Penn if he would get the next shot. Guess who isn’t getting punished?

Yeah. Listen who knows, I don’t see that happening (no-showing the press conference) again. If it does, I don’t even know what to say. Than it is what it is.

Huh? So now I circle back and ask why the heck aren’t the UFC fans getting the fight they were promised in the first place? If it is now a “it is what it is” situation regarding the press conference, why are we going through this whole charade of changing the UFC 137 card around? I know the answer that Dana would give you, “because he can” but this all just doesn’t pass the smell test to me.

Plenty of UFC fighters don’t like talking to the press. I understand it, but according to the company it is part of their jobs. So what is to stop Brock Lesnar or anyone else from not showing up to a press conference if they aren’t interested? The fear of being punished with a semi-main event? Give me a break!

Look I like Diaz and I am just as stoked as you are to see GSP vs. Diaz, which is probably why I have been so passionate about this story. I just think the UFC is taking a huge gamble here by delaying this fight. This isn’t the WWE and nothing at all is a given. Maybe Condit shocks the world and beats St-Pierre?

Or maybe Penn spoils everyone’s party and defeats Nick Diaz? I can’t imagine a more motivated fighter right now than BJ Penn who has to be insulted at this point about being put into the position of stepping stone. Dana White is playing the ultimate gamble right now and all it takes is one BJ Penn to win ruin the party and cost the company millions of dollars that they chose to leave on the table.

This is about as dumb as rewarding someone who fails a drug test and pleads guilty to a felony with a championship match & the biggest payday of their life after one win in fourteen months. Wait a minute!

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Nick Diaz Back On UFC 137 Vs. BJ Penn…Huh?

September 12, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Nick Diaz will fight Georges St-Pierre in October at UFC 137Dana White pulled a bold yet questionable move last week when it pulled Nick Diaz from his scheduled fight with Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 after Diaz missed two press conferences. In what has to be an even stranger move, the UFC rebooked Diaz the next day on the same show.

I didn’t agree with it but I understood it when Dana White pulled Diaz from the UFC 137 main event after missing two press conferences. As a fan, I was extremely disappointed. However, I do understand that the UFC needed to prevent Diaz from setting a precedent. Letting Diaz get away with missing the press conferences would allow future fighters to just simply not show up if they didn’t care to do press. I get it, but the next move was beyond bizarre.

Most expected Diaz to be fired, yet Dana White said that he hadn’t made a decision. Diaz made his situation theoretically worse by posting a video a few hours later trashing the UFC, accusing them of protecting GSP. It was easily assumed that with Diaz on the bubble he’d be gone. That is why I was stunned when the UFC announced that they rebooked Diaz against BJ Penn on the same card.

This just makes zero sense. First off, I am still a little surprised that the UFC left millions of dollars on the table by canceling a fight over a missed press conference. If the logic behind a press conference was to draw interest in the fight, wouldn’t Diaz missing the press conference and angering GSP and Dana White have drawn more interest to the fight? I would argue that by Diaz not showing up, it would add to his MMA reputation and do more to polarize the UFC audience than anything he would have said at the presser. I get it and the UFC didn’t want to set a precedent, but there is always an exception to the rule when it comes to the best interest of business.

That is why I am just shocked that they rebooked him on the same card. The guy has figuratively cost the company millions of dollars, so they punish him with an easier opponent and a big pay day? Will Diaz make more than he would have against GSP? Of course not, but neither will the UFC, yet they will still both make plenty of money off of UFC 137. If the UFC was trying to teach Nick Diaz a lesson, the lesson here would be that Nick Diaz will actually wind up making more money off of no-showing a press conference by fighting Penn and his next fight against GSP. That’ll teach him!

Why even keep Diaz in the UFC to begin with? The problem here is a lack of trust between Diaz and Dana White. So what if Diaz goes in there and destroys Penn at UFC 137? What is next? Thinking logically, it would be a UFC welterweight title shot against GSP. So what happens then? Will the UFC book the fight and cancel again when Diaz doesn’t show up for a press conference? My point is, by keeping the guy in the UFC he will likely run through the division. Why would you have him take out the challengers if he is never going to get a title shot? If he is getting a title shot, why did you cancel it in the first place?

The obvious answer here is that Diaz is a big MMA drawing card. The UFC have a lot of shows booked next year and only a handful of drawing cards. I am not naïve and I understand that in the end, Diaz is getting preferential treatment because he is a star. That is fine. But then why cancel in the first place and cheat the fans out of the biggest money fight of the year?

My only guess here is that the UFC never expected Diaz to take the Penn fight. Maybe there was a clause in his contract that gave Diaz a payout if he was cut? Penn trains with the Diaz brothers and both are Gracie students. The only thing I can think of is that they expected Diaz to refuse to fight a fellow Gracie student and breach his contract/quit. Otherwise, none of this makes sense.

In a perfect world cooler heads will prevail and the card will be shifted back to what it originally was. In the real world that isn’t going to happen. Dana White may think that he has sent a message, but the only message being sent in my point of view is that the UFC is desperate and will do whatever it takes to hold on to their draws, even if it means cutting off their nose to spite their face.

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Possible Matches For The First UFC on Fox Fight Card

August 23, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

As Eric reported Monday, news has come out slowly over the weekend that the first UFC on FOX card will feature only two fights in a one-hour broadcast. I’m still not sure that this is the greatest of ideas by the UFC and by FOX, but it does say something about the new broadcast partners. The UFC has competed directly with boxing on a number of occasions, but this time however, the UFC will not go head to head with the Manny Pacquaio vs. Juan Manuel Marquez fight. I won’t talk too much about the pros and cons of this idea, instead, let’s focus on the fun stuff, playing fantasy match maker.

There has already been one bout announced for the contest. A featherweight bout pitting rising stars of the division against one another as Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier takes Pablo Garza. This fight is surely to be an intriguing, exciting contest, but is also sure to wind up on the preliminary card. With only one hour to fill on FOX, the UFC is surely going to be looking for big fights, with big name value and high potential for fireworks. With that in mind, let’s play fantasy match maker and take a look at some of the potential fights that could wind up on the card. I’ll examine the possibilities for both the opening contest and the main event, looking at the most realistic possibilities and moving into the most unlikely but fan friendly of scenarios.

Let’s take a look at the opening contest first. The UFC has already said that this first show is going to be very quickly paced, moving quickly from fight-to-fight, without a lot of pre-fight and post-fight analysis. What that also means is that they will be expecting the fights to draw the viewers in and keep their attention throughout the whole hour. So let’s take a look at three possibilities for the opening bout of the main card.

Option #1: The opening bout needs to be exciting and fan-friendly, it should also provide a sense of intrigue for what’s on the line and should also add some name value to the card. What possible fight could the UFC make right now that provides all of those things? “Smooth” Ben Henderson vs. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida. Both men are known for their high-paced fighting styles. Guida is known for his crazy hair, high-pressure offense and unstoppable cardio. Guida is also currently riding a four-fight winning streak and has emerged as a top contender at 155-Pounds after his win over Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Ben Henderson is coming off of a signature win with his three round domination of Jim Miller. Neither fighter is injured and neither has an upcoming fight booked. Both men have a claim as the number one contender, so let’s go ahead and let them scrap it out to decide. A number one contender’s bout provides a lot of intrigue to casual fans as it proves that there is something on the line.

One of the best parts about this fight is that it wouldn’t hurt any of their upcoming fight cards. This fight currently isn’t scheduled and neither are either of the fighters. Both are in need of fights and at least one, Guida, already has a legion of loyal fans who love him and who would flock to his fights, especially on free television.

Update: After this blog was published, MMAJunkie.com reports that both fighter’s managers have said that their fighters would be interested in fighting each other on the Fox special.

Option #2: Should the UFC decide to go a different direction, they could decide to postpone a fight from another card and move it into this slot. The November 12 date, means that there is likely three surrounding UFC events that they could pull from. UFC 137 on October 29, 138 on November 5 and 139 on November 19. One of their most intriguing options and one that is sure to provide a lot of name value to the FOX card is Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn. Again this is a fight with serious title implications as a win by Condit would likely mean a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. With BJ Penn involved it obviously provides a lot of name value to both hardcore and casual fans. They would also benefit from the BJ Penn hype train, as BJ has shown the ability to sell fights in the past. Especially his series of fights with GSP and Frankie Edgar.

The potential problem for this fight is that it would be removing a solid co-main event fight from the UFC 137 PPV. 137 is already sure to be a ratings hit with a large number of PPV buys. GSP is one of the biggest draws in the sport and a Pay Per View fight against Nick Diaz, who can do a great job of selling fights himself, and is currently on a 10-Fight winning streak and will be trying to avenge the loss of his teammate Jake Shields. That fight is sure to do huge PPV numbers, the card is also anchored by a number of Heavyweight sluggers, who are likely to stand and bang for several rounds, providing enough intrigue to keep fans appeased.

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Option #3: This final option might not provide the most intrigue among casual fans. However, it might hold a great deal of interest for the more hardcore fans of the sport. It would also be a rematch, which would give the UFC Marketing Machine an interesting angle to spin. Neither man currently has any bouts on the horizon and although they are in somewhat different places in this stage of their careers, they have both publicly stated their ambitions to fight only top contenders and big name fighters.

I’m talking about a potential Light Heavyweight bout between Rich “Ace” Franklin and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. The style match up is definitely what makes this bout appeal to fans, as both fighters are known for their stand up skills, and neither would likely be ready to take the fight to the mat. However, both are known counter-punchers, so with the potential of stalemates and lack of offensive action the UFC might be reluctant to book this one on a night that has to be a success.

Again this fight is not currently booked, nor is either fighter currently booked for an upcoming bout. The bout has very little impact on the immediate Light Heavyweight title picture, but nonetheless it is an intriguing rematch that several fans would be willing to get behind.

With the possibilities of an opening bout already discussed, let’s move along to the Main Event. Unfortunately I don’t think that the UFC has a whole lot of options for this one. I see only one true option for their first appearance on network television. That fight is a Heavyweight Title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. That is the only real main event that makes sense. If there is one thing that casual fight fans love it is Heavyweights and it is title fights. Since the beginning of television, fans of combat sports have loved the big men, be it inside the squared-circle or inside the octagon, have loved to see the biggest men in sports go toe-to-toe. It also has the potential to be the Fight of the Night. Both men are known for the striking prowess, as well as their knockout power. Velasquez is known as the man who destroyed Brock Lesnar and took his title, while dos Santos is coming off of a destruction of Shane Carwin.

With the UFC 139 PPV only one week later, it wouldn’t really do much to either man’s training camps to move them up one week. However, this also opens up one more potential problem and that is what to do about UFC 139′s Main Event. The current co-main event is a Featherweight Number One Contender’s bout between Brian Bowles and Urijah Faber. That leaves a card with a Co-Main Event featuring a number one contender’s bout in a division that has not fared well in the ratings department. So what could the UFC fill that void with?

There are probably a lot of options for this kind of fight, but I’m going to suggest a fight that would probably actually do more PPV Buys than the current dos Santos/Velasquez fight. This is likely to be a bit more fantasy match-maker than anything, but hey we can dream right? How about Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem?

The Zuffa vs. Overeem saga has taken a number of twists and turns, but with the most recent turn of events in their negotiation saga, it sounds like the UFC may be close to striking a deal with the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. Overeem has already said that he wants to fight in the UFC and he wants an immediate title shot. I don’t think he should get an immediate title shot, but a win over Lesnar would give him legitimate claim to a UFC title shot. As for Lesnar, he just last week released a video that said he was back and cleared to resume training and wanted to get back to fighting. Dana White said that he anticipated a New Year’s Day return for Lesnar, but Lesnar is a company man and is a very big draw. If White and the UFC came calling to Lesnar to possibly speed up his return I believe that he would do so.

So what do you think? Would you like to see Lesnar take on Overeem? Do you want to see dos Santos vs. Velasquez for the Heavyweight title on free television? What would you do if you were the UFC?

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

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