In an earlier blog I predicted that UFC President Dana White would likely not take further action against Nick Diaz, that taking the title fight with Georges St Pierre away would be the extent of his punishment for his no showing the press conferences. With yesterday’s announcement that Diaz would now face BJ Penn at UFC 137, White has proven me correct.
As I mentioned, Diaz could potentially have been the target of a lawsuit by the UFC to recover damages they may have incurred by his no shows. Instead, Diaz will be fighting the co-main event in what is essentially a switch of positions with Carlos Condit.
The truth is that Penn versus Diaz is a good match, I’m pumped to see it. Both guys are a lot alike in their set of skills, and neither guy is really given to being boring or methodical. To his credit as well, Penn has always fought with some attitude as well, so we may finally get a fight with a little bit of heat here, and not just two guys in a competition.
Penn won a Brazilian Jiu jitsu world championship many years ago, and he has used submissions and ground fighting in his MMA career very well. He gets the back and has used a rear naked choke to finish opponents, including fellow black belt Kenny Florian.
I’m not sure who has the advantage on the ground in this one however. Diaz has been under Cesar Gracie’s tutelage for a long time, and has also used submission extensively in his career. This includes the memorable gogoplata submission of Takanori Gomi.
So it really is anyone’s guess who is better on the ground.
The stand up game is a similar story. Penn has clearly shown KO power in his career and good, fluid technique as well. Diaz has also shown extensive boxing, and slugged it out with a lot of good stand up fighters. Diaz has fought back and won matches where he may have been hurt, and he has a chin. Diaz has flirted with doing pro boxing matches, and is supremely confident in his stand up game. You pick!
Again, I give Dana and the UFC management credit here. They must have heard from Diaz, and despite whatever explanations Nick gave they must think this is a gamble.
But White needed an opponent for Penn. He must have visualized the fight, and seen it’s got a lot of potential to be a great fight. Putting great fights first is what the UFC claims they do, and not cutting Diaz completely and giving him one more chance gives us all a potentially great fight. That is what they deserve credit for.