Below we offer up our predictions for Saturday night’s UFC 137: Penn Vs Diaz event which takes place in Las Vegas. Stay tuned to https://mmainsight.com all weekend long for live results and all the post-fight coverage you need.
B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz
Not the main event we expected to see when this event was first announced, but Penn Vs Diaz is undoubtedly a fight worthy of headline duties.
On face value both Penn and Diaz are very similar fighters. Both have very good boxing skills, high level Jiu-Jitsu, cast-iron jaws and a natural inclination to go to war inside the cage.
Beyond that overlook there are differences though. Penn’s boxing prowess allows him to work effectively inside the pocket and he has excellent head movement, fast, accurate hands and packs a powerful punch even at welterweight despite being undersized. Meanwhile Diaz uses his long arms to his advantage, thrusting them out while staying at range and firing off combinations of ‘pitter-patter’ style punches from unexpected angles with pinpoint precision.
It’s hard to split the two men on the ground as both are very accomplished submission specialists and as is so often the case in MMA when two fighters with that pedigree clash, it could end in a stalemate. If either was to gain an edge I’d wager it would be Penn however as he is extremely nimble and has otherwordly flexibility which is hard to train for and gives him an advantage against anyone he faces.
Perhaps more significant is how the fight would get to the floor in the first place. Penn has world class takedown defense and is also the better wrestler so if there are takedowns to be had in this fight I’d expect the Hawaiian to be the one excuting them successfully.
Where Diaz has a distinct advantage however is in the cardio department. Already a legitimate endurance athlete, Diaz has been training for five round fights for some time now as the champion of Strikeforce so he’ll have no trouble going full bore for the full 15 minutes, while Penn’s own gas tank is still questionable.
I believe that Penn is the better fighter, but it’s whether he chooses to use all his tools that could be the deciding factor here. If he employs a similar stategy to the first round of the Jon Fitch fight, getting Diaz up against the cage and looking for takedowns then he will be on course to win. I think he’ll want to stand and trade with Diaz however and though he has the skills to do so Diaz rangey, volume-punching style and endless cardio will end up difficult to overcome and leave him on the wrong side of a judges decision.
Nick Diaz to win by decision.
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione
Changes to the main card gave Kongo and Mitrione the opportunity to rise up to the co-main event slot on the card, and they have the firepower to make this a memorable encounter.
The stand-up game is certainly where both these men are most comfortable. Kongo comes from a kickboxing background and is very athletic for the weight class which allows him to fire off fast kicks in addition to concussion inducing punches and good all-round movement. He can also take a lot of punishment as he showed last time out when he survived a beating from Pat Barry before KO’ing him.
Despite Kongo’s imposing physique Mitrione is actually in the region of 30lbs heavier than him and is proving to have explosive power in his hands. Considering that he was 0-0 when the former NFL player’s UFC career started on TUF Season 10 it’s impressive how far his striking skills have developed, showing good technique and is surprisingly light on his feet.
While a stand-up war is certainly possible it should not be overlooked that Kongo actually has an underrated wrestling game. While he’s very poor off his back he’s very dangerous on top and can lay down fight ending power with his ground and pound. Meanwhile Mitrione’s ground game is still largely a mystery and is something he’s been working hard on behind the scenes to shore up.
I’ve not been too impressed with Kongo lately, while Mitrione’s form has come as an unexpected but pleasant surprise. I think Mitrione can land the heavier, more meaningful blows in this contest and earn a late stoppage win to continue his rise up the heavyweight ranks.
Matt Mitrione to win by TKO in Rd3.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson
Cro Cop Vs Nelson certainly has the feeling of a ‘loser leaves town’ fight with both men struggling in recent times to get a win under their belt in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
The Cro Cop we see in the UFC these days is unfortunately a shadow of the man with the menacing presence and lethal head kicks we saw in the PRIDE era. Today he looks tentative, rarely throws his famous kicks due to a legacy of injuries and operations, and sadly his chin has also now deserted him leading to two KO losses in a row.
While the Croatian still has better technique and more versatility han his opponent in the striking department, Nelson unquestionably weilds the heavier punches and can take an absurd amount of punishment.
What Cro Cop does still have is good takedown defence and that’s a very useful tool to have heading into this fight as Nelson is a very better grappler and will have a significant size advantage to boot. The TUF winner is too fond of his hands these days to go looking for the takedown anyway which has proven to be a costly error in his gameplanning in the UFC recently.
Cardio wise the overweight Nelson could certainly improve. He claims that he ran out of steam last time out due to illness, but truth be told he looked tired in the later rounds gainst JDS as well. There’s rumors that he’s finally slimmed down for this fight at Dana White’s request but we’ll need to see it to believe it.
Roy Nelson isn’t the guy you want to face when you’re down on your luck, struggling to find form and fighting cautiously. I expect Nelson to wade through Cro Cop’s strikes in order to land some of his own, and sadly when he connects it may prove to be lights out once again for the Filipovic.
Roy Nelson to win by KO in Rd2
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop
Hioki will hope to do what many of his fellow countrymen have failed to recently by getting a win in his UFC debut, but TUF vet Roop will be looking to play spoiler.
The Japanese fighter is unlikely to want much to do with the stand-up battle here. It’s not his strong point and the fact that in Roop he’s facing an unusually tall, rangey opponent for the weight class it certainly serves him better to take this fight to the mat where he excels.
Roop on the other hand will want to stay in the striking realm where he’s most comfortable and use his reach to his advantage. He’s not the most technically proficient but he’s a hard-nosed competitor and uses his long legs well as an offensive weapon.
The former WEC fighter is vulnerable to the takedown though and Hioki will look to capitalize on that. He’s the superior grappler and has the submission arsenal to give Roop real problems there.
I think Hioki can get the debut win that so many of his Japanese contemparies have failed to do in the UFC. Roop won’t make it easy for him, but I believe he can grab a hold of one of those lanky limbs and force a tap before the fifteen minutes is up.
Hatsu Hioki to win by submission in Rd3.
Jeff Curran vs. Scott Jorgensen
Curran returns to the UFC after a seven year absence and he’s not been given an easy first fight back after being drawn against former No.1 contender Jorgensen.
Stand-up is neither man’s forte, but both are very tough. Jorgensen is the more aggressive fighter though and I think he could get slightly the better of Curran if they have prolonged spells of striking.
Jorgensen’s strength is wrestling though and I expect that to be on display frequently tomorrow night. His takedowns are very good, he’s strong and extremely hard working and tenacious on top, providing a legitimate threat with his ground and pound though he’ll have a tough time finishing the durable Curran.
Curran is comfortable fighting from his back though and he will be looking for openings to use his BJJ skills and potentially catch an overly zealous Jorgensen in a submission.
Curran is a good fighter but I believe Jorgensen is a step up from him and will beat him up on the ground though ultimately have to settle for a decision victory.
Scott Jorgensen to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone
Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski
Brandon Vera vs. Eliot Marshall
Ramsey Nijem vs. Danny Downes
Dustin Jacoby vs. Clifford Starks
Chris Camozzi vs. Francis Carmont