This weekend, on October 29th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, UFC 137 is headlined by a welterweight match between BJ Penn and Nick Diaz. This is basically a pick ‘em fight in my book, and the lines at the sports books are reflecting that. Respected line maker Nick Kalikas has Nick Diaz at -105 and BJ Penn at -125. Can’t get much closer than that! Let’s take a closer look at this bout, as it is a great match and both guys are a lot alike.
To begin with, physically they are similar as they are rangy and long. I expect Diaz to be a little bit bigger and have a slight reach advantage, but this is not an area with great disparities.
Likewise, the skill sets on the feet and on the ground are very similar. Penn earned his nickname ‘The Prodigy’ after winning the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world championships as a black belt. Diaz has over a decade with Cesar Gracie under his belt, and is extremely highly skilled on the ground. Who can forget the famous gogoplata finish of Takanori Gomi?
Stand up wise, neither guy will shy away from a boxing match. Diaz has talked fighting pro boxing, and Penn has shown he is a banger in many of his UFC bouts. Diaz is more of an in your face, volume puncher, while Penn has shown more KO power. Penn has shown himself to be more explosive in the early going of a fight, and has a tendency to tire.
But the really reason I like this fight is the mindset of both guys. Both definitely fight with their own motivations, and they are unique and not like your average ‘I respect my opponent’ type of mindset. Nick Diaz, well you may never earn his respect. BJ won’t give it to you either, you are going to have to earn it.
In the build up to this fight, Diaz definitely learned a lesson about hitting the ‘Big Time’. He is going to want to show what he said is true, he is a fighter first, and he is going to be his usual mean self when he hits the Octagon.
As for Penn, I am not so sure here. If he used the switched opponent as a motivation, and he gets himself prepared in the proper way, then we are in for a hell of a fight.
However there are rumors, that Penn may not have the fire in his belly for this one. Penn has been talking about the mental wear and tear, as well as the physical strains of getting up for a fight of this level. This is not a good thing to be hearing less than a week from the fight.
So that is the main reason I’m going to pick Diaz in this one. If Penn is flat, he is not going to be able to hold off the pressure that Diaz is going to put on him. And I believe with all that has happened, that Diaz is going to take his brawling and mental pressure filled style to a whole different level for this fight.