Controversy seems to follow Nick Diaz wherever he goes, but despite his ‘bad boy’ reputation and well documented feuds with the likes of Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Joe ‘Diesel’ Riggs and KJ Noons in the past, so far he has ibeen very complimentary of his next opponent, BJ Penn.

“He’s my favorite fighter,” Diaz reveals in his UFC 137 pre-fight interview with the UFC. “I know where he came from, he came from my school. As far as I’m concerned he came from where I came from, that’s why he’s good.

Diaz, who trains under Cesar Gracie is referrring to the fact that Penn also began learning BJJ under another member of that prestigious family, Ralph Gracie.

In fact Diaz and Penn have trained together in the past, and when the fight was originally made both were initially reluctant to accept, but eventually agreed that it was for the best for there careers to pit their skills against each other in the Octagon.

They are also both aware that this is a fight that the fans would be keen to see.

“MMA fans, in general, are looking forward to this fight,” Diaz acknowledges. “I think that we have some of the same style, therefore we have some of the same fans and I respect his style of fighting.”

He’s got a point. Both Penn and Diaz have excellent striking and BJJ skills and a similarly aggressive ‘fight-to-finish’ mentality that’s lead to only seven of their combined 58 fights having ended by decision.

That’s why, despite the complete lack of rivarly and trash-talking between the two fighters, that this match-up is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the year so far.

Watch the full interview with an unusually happy-looking Diaz below.