Octagonside by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Nick Diaz and BJ Penn went out and had a battle for the ages at UFC 137. With the winner likely earning the next shot at Georges St-Pierre, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion rose to the occasion.
As questioned swirled about Diaz’ motivation ahead of the Penn fight, the Stockton native came in and did what he does best. After a slow first round, Diaz dominated the final two frames to take a unanimous decision win.
Penn claimed the opening round with some swift punching. The former two division champion was able to close the distance quickly and batter Diaz with some speedy punches. Baby Jay scored a takedown in the opener but his stellar jiu-jitsu was nullified by the cagy Diaz.
The second series of five minutes showed a completely different Nick Diaz. As we’ve seen in the past, Diaz was scrappier, taunting Penn when the opportunity presented itself. And when the punches came, they came in bunches. Diaz switched up his attack, battering Penn from a distance with the jab and going to the body in close quarters.
The final frame was even more lopsided than the second as Diaz had his way with the largely defenseless Penn. By the final bell, Penn looked like a shell of the person who originally stepped in the cage. The judges scored bout 29-28, 29-27, and 29-28 in Diaz’ favor.
Diaz capped an impressive performance by calling out champion Georges St-Pierre.
Penn, citing his new born daughter, shocked the MMA world by retiring.
Kongo tops Mitrione in uneventful affair
Well, you can’t have fireworks every time. Two of the division’s heaviest hitters, Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione underwhelmed the sold out Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd in the evening’s co-main event. The first round looked like a school yard staring contest, with both tentative and hesitant to engage. Both opened up a bit more in the second frame, Kongo throwing a series of leg kicks and Mitrione throwing punches in single bursts. Kongo dominated the third round with two takedowns, but didn’t inflict much damage from the dominant position. Both fighters were showered with boos at the conclusion. The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-28, and 29-28.
Nelson sends Cro Cop to retirement
All week, speculation ran rampant that Mirko Cro Cop would compete for the final time at UFC 137. The speculators were right. Cro Cop went out in a blaze of glory, albeit not the way he wanted in a TKO loss to Roy Nelson. The noticeably leaner “Big Country” pushed the pace from the opening bell, stalking Cro Cop in an attempt to land a big overhand right. Cro Cop was the more effective striker in the opener, but Nelson’s late round takedown killed any momentum the Croatian mounted. The second stanza was highlighted by two near finishes. After rocking Nelson, Cro Cop swarmed with a flurry of punches against the cage. Late in the round, it was Nelson who roared back with another takedown. The TUF 10 winner trapped Cro Cop in a crucifix position and reigned down punches. Cro Cop, managed to survive and go to the final frame. Nelson struck gold with the right hand late in the third, landing it with pin point accuracy. Another left-right combo panicked Cro Cop who went in for a takedown, but slipped. Nelson pounced, took Cro Cop’s back and unleashed a series of fight ending blows.
Official time of stoppage was 1:30.
“I want the championship, I’m getting too old for this sh*t,” a tired Nelson said, in attempts to do his best Chael Sonnen impression. A disappointed Cro Cop then took the mic and announced his retirement.
“This was going to be my farewell fight. I want to thank you all, especially the UFC fans. I was treated like a king. All I can say is sorry I blew it. What can I say?” With a career full of highlight finishes, Cro Cop has no reason to apologize.
Jorgensen controls Curran
Sometimes, two fighters are so evenly matched that no one gains an edge. The bantamweight bout between Scott Jorgensen and Jeff Curran was one such contest. Both fighters are proficient grapplers and strikers and largely nullified each other during the 15-minute affair. “Young Gun” controlled the action with takedowns in each of the three rounds. The veteran Curran stayed active from the bottom and threatened with a guillotine in the second. Control beat out activity in the judges’ minds and all three scored the bout for Jorgensen by way of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
The win likely inches Jorgensen closer to a rematch with current champ Dominick Cruz.
Hioki breaks Japanese curse, edges Roop
Hatsu Hioki, unlike many of his highly touted Japanese predecessors, made a successful UFC debut, defeating George Roop via split decision. The top-ten featherweight controlled Roop in the first two frames on the strength of grappling and takedowns. Hioki advanced to a full mount in the second stanza but couldn’t inflict much damage from the dominant position. The slow pace infuritated Roop who eventually escaped and finished the round with a hail of punches and kicks. Roop controlled the pace in the final frame with takedowns of his home and seemed content to leave his fate in the hands of the judges. Scores were 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28 in favor of Hioki. “Japanese MMA is not dead,” a victorious Hioki said after the bout. The win makes it hard to disagree.
Donald Cerrone capped of a spectacular 2011 with a submission win over fellow kick boxer Dennis Siver. “Cowboy” struck early, catching the German with a vicious left high kick that landed flush on the face. Siver never seemed to recover. When Siver stumbled a second time, Cerrone took full advantage. After taking Siver’s back, Cerrone wasted no time flattening him out and sinking in a rear naked choke. Official time of stoppage was 2:22.
Both men start out fast. Leg kicks from both men. Leg kick to the head rocks Siver. Another punch sends him to the mat. Recovers quick, ties up Cerrone.
Bart Palaszewski promised a short night for Tyson Griffin if the Las Vegan tried to stand with him. He made good on his word. Griffin was stunned with a left right combo. As Griffin staggered back to his feet, Palaszewski pounced throwing a flurry of punches while Griffin covered up against the cage. A vicious right hand in the storm of punches landed flush, separating Griffin from consciousness. Time of stoppage was 2:45
Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. A left-right combo from Eliot Marshall almost ended Brandon Vera’s second chance in the UFC. Marshall followed up the final round flurry with two submission attempts but was unable to sink in a rear naked choke or the arm bar. Vera escaped the close call to earn the decision victory. All three judges scored it 29-28.
It’s as close to an MMA blowout as one could get. Ramsey Nijem schooled Danny “Boy” Downes from bell to bell to earn a one sided unanimous victory. Nijem blasted Downes at will with jabs, took him down whenever he wanted and threatened with submissions in every round. The only challenge was for the judges, who had to decide how many points to award Downes. Scores were 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27.
Georges St-Pierre protégé Francis Carmont put on a dominant performance en route to a unanimous decision win against Chris Camozzi. The Tri-Star fighter dazzled the crowd with a big slam and a left right combo that floored the TUF alum in the second frame. Carmont coasted to the win in the final frame. The judges scored the bout 30-26, 20-27 and 30-27.
Former Arizona State University standout Clifford Starks used three late round takedowns to defeat Dustin Jacoby via unanimous decision. “Big Cat” scored early with a series of straight routes, but out grappled the previously unbeaten Jacoby for the win. All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
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