That's right, I said it. The best fight you or I have ever seen is about to go down this Saturday Night, as two of the most savage and technically brilliant fighters ever to walk will be locked in a cage together for 15 glorious minutes. Never before has such a potent mix of fighting acumen, inherent violence, and brazen disregard for self-preservation been mixed and cooked in pot like gumbo.
Cube be lovin this fight.
If you have followed either fighter for any amount of time, you know both BJ and Nick share a certain philosophy when it comes to fighting. Over the years they have often shown disdain for other fighters that would attempt to game the system and win on points, rather than actually fight. BJ's motto of "Just Scrap" embodies this philosophy succinctly in just two words. "Rules are there for the Fighters Safety" is a misnomer, rules are there for the fighters longevity; we want them fighting as long as possible, as many times as possible. Are we really concerned with anyone's "safety" when deep down inside we all want Crocop to land that one last LHK?
BJ and Nick understand the necessity of the rules, but when the door closes all thoughts of the "conditions" of the fight go out the window. They want to put an end to the man standing across from them in the quickest, most violent way possible. The idea is that if not for the ref and cameras, the fight would end in someone's death. It does sound particularly barbaric to put it in those terms, but it is one of the traits that make fighters like this so special. Fighting with murderous intent is how we as fans get some of the most memorable performances in MMA history. Guys that fight for the cards and the distance tend to be forgotten, a lot of the 5 Rounders that go the distance as of late blend together in a mass of solid but forgettable techniques and scrambles.
Nick and BJ alone posses between the two of them more killer instinct than any other four fighters combined. The ability to truly enjoy beating the crap out of another human being is a rarer commodity than you might think, most likely because BJ and Nick took it all for themselves. Bruce Lee sure sounded good when he was talking about leaving your anger at the door during a fight, but in this case I say F that noise Bruce.
Is it weird that I am just as excited for the stare down between these two as I am for the fight itself? A lot of guys seem to have different views when mentally preparing themselves to step into the cage, some won't make eye contact, some will. BJ and Nick both have that "Stare into your Soul to find the little b*%^h inside" tactic, which I love.
Found this in my pocket!
Some keep calm and use their "Art" and leave any anger out of the equation, but then some people seem to get very angry. BJ and Nick are easily my two favourite guys to watch come out of the back and make their way into the fight.
It's quite clear that they are not here for the money, the fame, or for a working day. BJ looks like he has ingested some sort of ancient Hawaiian drug cocktail and is about to have a spirit journey all over your face, while Nick is thinking "That's that foo. That's that FOO that stole my BIKE! You done &*^%^& up now Homie! I can't get my bike back but I can still get some Stockton Justice up in this piece!"
I can see it now...
BJ, warming his arms up, strutting out to the cage like an enraged Hawaiian peacock, the anthem of his people filling him with island fire, completely in the moment.
Nick, the ghetto pitbull, bitter about his dog's lot in life, all scowls and bad vibes, feeding off the Sounds of Stockton.
Both men, on either side of the cage, pacing side to side, eyes locked and unblinking. Nick is silent, for once, letting his eyes do the talking. Buffer's volume is so high it is distorting even the high Gain UFC Mic. Nick first, then BJ hear their names screamed out to 15,000 fans here just for them, and as usual can't refrain from striking their own faces until the tears start welling up. It's about to go down.
I'm probably going to be slapping my own face right along with them, I'm so pumped for this. Should probably watch at home... If I wasn't going LIVE that is. Oooooooooh....
I understand not everyone is a bloodthirsty animal like me, and love this here MMA for the sheer technical aspect of a fight. Personality aside, who has the better game? Lets see how these two modern day savages stack up.
We have a very interesting case here in which both fighters are veritable BJJ Wizards, but would way rather punch you in the face, and in fact are just as good at face-punching as they are at neck-strangling. Both fighters possess incredible boxing technique, but have radically different approaches to imposing their particular styles.
One of the things you will here from BJ as often as "Just Scrap" is "Be First!" This means exactly what it sounds like: BJ is going to hit you first, make you feel pain first, and make you bleed first. When not facing someone with elite takedowns (and even those with) BJ will always make sure to unload on you as soon as possible, often with devastating results. Victims of this early face-melting power include:
Other notables hurt early and often (if not finished) by BJ include GSP, Frankie Edgar, Joe Stevenson, Caol Uno, and Din Thomas. The first round is the absolute worst place to be with BJ, as these men can all attest.
Where BJ is all business at the start of the fight often catching his opponents early and hurting them badly, Nick seems to prefer a more patient method, wanting his opponent to overcommit and provide him an opportunity to use his reach advantage for counter-punching from the outside. But how to get them to overcommit, you may ask. Well, Nick can most often be seen at the start of the first round looking like this:
You forgot the chips?
I think against BJ this is a terrible idea, as BJ will most likely looking to be getting off as early and hard as possible. Nick will not have time even to get one taunt out before BJ is in his face ,slipping punches while slamming hooks and uppercuts into his chin. Add to this:
1. The fact Nick is a Southpaw to BJ's Orthodox and will be ripe for shots from BJ's power side, Straight RIghts and Inside Leg Kicks in particular.
2. Nick lacks the diversity BJ has in his striking game, namely kicks and knees. BJ's lead jumping knee is particularly lethal, and with no threat of a take down from Nick look for BJ to go to these techniques often.
3. Nick surprisingly has only a 4" reach advantage over BJ, which shouldn't mean too much considering the variety of offensive weapons BJ has at his disposal compared to Nick.
Both men will take one to give one, and love nothing more in life than to punch another human being in the face. Look for some of the fastest, technical, ferocious, bad-intentioned standup exchanges you have ever seen.
Frenetic fighting at its finest...
Where both men have considerable chops standing, when it comes to taking the fight to a different place Nick cannot hold a candle to BJ Penn. Because his striking and BJJ are so elite, Penn's wrestling is often overlooked. Bj has taken down:
It's a pretty safe bet Nick couldn't get any of those guys to the canvas if he had 1000 years and a banana peel. If BJ wants the fight on the floor, it's going there. If Nick wants the fight on the floor? Well, he has to deal with this:
BJ has arguably the best TDD in the division, possibly in the world. Attempting a single leg is like trying to lift a python over your head, a python with an arm growing out its back that is punching you in the face.
Nick, on the other hand, got taken down by Cyborg, 1/1. Nick is obviously willing to go to his back more so than other fighters, as he is a veritable BJJ Master, and all of his submission wins have come from his back. Despite his willingness, it should be noted there is indeed a glaring deficiency in his ability to dictate where the fight happens.
I called both of these guys BJJ Wizards earlier, and it is not an exaggeration. BJ Penn was the first non-Brazilian to win the Brazilian BJJ World Championships, at the tender age of 19. Nick has been training under Cesar Gracie for most of his life, and his guard is natural, aggressive and technically perfect. All of Nick's recent opponents have tapped out only after mere seconds in his guard. This being said, I think BJ has the definitive advantage here as well, and it has to do with BJ wrestling prowess along with how both men prefer to implement their BJJ games.
All of BJ's submission wins have come from a top position, or as a result of him taking top position into mount, then working his way to the back for a RNC after his opponent has had enough of his vicious ground and pound. For the record, that is 6 RNC's and 1 Arm Triangle, all a result of dropping or taking his opponents down. Nick, as I stated earlier, gets all of his subs off his back (4 armbars, 1 Triangle, 2 kimuras, and of course one Gogo!). Nick will be too willing to give BJ that top position, opening himself up for GnP and ultimately BJ's Mount-GnP-Back Take-Arm Trap-RNC combo.
I should note here that both men carry the distinction of never being finished by submission, which I feel will translate into a long night of punishment both on the feet and ground for Nick. But, if Nick can stay busy and keep it a transitional battle, we should see a spectacular back and forth between these two, Joe Rogan should be beside himself with glee.
I think durability will play a large factor in this fight, as BJ's ability to take punishment without cutting or even showing damage is legendary. Even after suffering a merciless beating at the hands of GSP, and taking over 200 punches from Fitch in one round, BJ did not show much of that on his face. He is nearly impossible to cut, Nick on the other hand:
This is the one area Nick has a clear advantage over BJ. They are both known to partake in the Devil's Cabbage, but while BJ is getting baked and eating cheeseburgers, Nick is smoking up and placing first in Ironman competitions. Swim for miles, bike for miles, and run for miles. Nick has every kind of energy system in his body fully maxed out and ready to burn, for hours. He could fight 5 times in a night and still be breaking popcorn on your face come 2am. Unless BJ has been having a secret affair with Marv, the longer this fight goes, the more the pendulum swings over to the Stockton side.
-Both men are technically brilliant boxers and BJJ players with an unmatched propensity for violence and killer instinct.
-BJ works his Jitz from the top, Nick from the bottom.
-BJ starts fast, Nick starts slow.
-Both men have never tapped out.
-BJ is nigh-indestructible, Nick has paper skin.
-BJ has the edge in wrestling, Nick has the edge in cardio.
I know people are disappointed GSP is off the card, but I'm not one of them.