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UFC 137: Penn Vs. Diaz Predictions & Analysis

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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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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