In an intriguing UFC vs. Strikeforce battle, former UFC Welterweight and Lightweight champion B.J. Penn (16-7-2; 12-6-2 UFC) faces former Strikeforce Welterweight champion Nick Diaz (25-7, 1 NC; 6-4 UFC) at UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz. This Welterweight fight is the main event of the PPV. Penn is currently ranked #7 in the Welterweight USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, with Diaz a few spots above him at #4. The PPV begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
It's been a wild ride to the UFC 137 main event. After Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields at UFC 129 drew some negative reactions, the UFC opted for a GSP vs. Nick Diaz champion vs. champion fight, hoping the unpredictable Diaz would create some fireworks. Trouble is, he proved to be a bit too unpredictable, and after missing press conferences, he was sacked from the card with Carlos Condit taking his place. Of course, that left Condit's former opponent B.J. Penn alone, so he was given... Nick Diaz. When St. Pierre went down to injury, this former semi-main event was bumped up to the main event slot, putting Diaz back in the main, and leaving poor Condit off the card entirely.
How do these two stack up?
Penn: 32 years old | 5'9" | 70" reach
Diaz: 28 years old | 6'1" | 74" reach
What have these two done recently?
Penn: D - Jon Fitch (Majority Draw) | W - Matt Hughes (KO) | L - Frankie Edgar (UD)
Diaz: W - Paul Daley (TKO) | W - Evangelista Santos (Sub) | W - K.J. Noons (UD)
How did these two get here?
After an inconsistent return to the UFC in 2006, B.J. Penn looked to bring all his skills together and realize his great potential with a dominant Lightweight title run in 2008-2009. But a pair of losses to Frankie Edgar left Penn, and some analysts, questioning his spot in the sport. He decided to abandon Lightweight and head back up to Welterweight, knocking out Matt Hughes, and battling Jon Fitch to a draw. Penn is often held up as a great Welterweight, but that is almost solely based on his 2004 title win over Hughes. That was indeed impressive, but it was also nearly 8 years ago. His UFC record at Welterweight stands at just 2-3-1, though every one of those fights has come against a world class Welterweight. Could he be moving into position for Georges St. Pierre vs. B.J. Penn III?
Nick Diaz left the UFC in 2006, and has gone on an incredible 11-1 run since. That run includes winning the Strikeforce title, which he vacated in order to move to the UFC. The Cesar Gracie black belt has a great jiu jitsu game, though he is much more known for his unique high-volume punching style these days. His combination of unique style, exciting fights, and huge personality has made him a massive cult favorite amongst hardcore fans, though it's not yet known how much of a draw he is to the casual fanbase. Despite his impressive run in recent years, many still have questions about where he stands in the division, as he has not faced many ranked fighters during this time. Diaz has a lot to prove in this fight.
Why should you care?
It won't have the title drama of St. Pierre vs. Diaz, but it's still a great fight. Diaz almost never has a boring outing, and Penn tends to bring the excitement as well. This will also be a fascinating stylistic battle, with both men comfortable on the ground and on the feet. Add in the future title fight implications and the notoriously wild Diaz and you have a fight to watch.
More UFC 137 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
UFC 137 Weigh In Video: BJ Penn and Nick Diaz Almost Come To Blows - Matthew Roth
UFC 137: Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137 Penn vs Diaz: Staff Predictions
UFC 137 Weigh-In Video and Results - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran Dissection - Dallas Winston
Judo Chop: B.J. Penn's Back Control - Ben Thapa
UFC 137: The Sober Reality of Nick Diaz's Continued Presence in MMA - Leland Roling
UFC 137: Dana White Video Blog, Part 2 - Matthew Roth
Judo Chop: Nick Diaz's Ground Game - Ben Thapa
UFC 137: George Roop vs. Hatsu Hioki Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137 Striking Breakdown: Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 137 Press Conference Recap: Jon Anik to Broadcast Booth, UFC on Fox Undercard on Facebook and Fox.com - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137 Video: B.J. Penn Challenges Cesar Gracie, Admits to Being 'Hookwinked' By Him - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Roy Nelson 'I'd Have to Cut Off A Leg To Make 205' - Matthew Roth
Bad Boy Presents Bloody Elbow Radio - Episode 92: UFC 137 Preview - Matt Bishop
UFC 137 Video: Nick Diaz Goes In-Depth About Press Conference Fiasco, Not Loving Fighting - Tim Burke
UFC 137: The Card That Could Have Been and the PPV Repercussions - Matthew Roth
UFC 137 Video: B.J. Penn Talks Fighting Nick Diaz and Future Title Shots - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: B.J. Penn Explains Lack of Hype for Nick Diaz Fight - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: Nick Diaz Wishes He'd Stuck to Boxing Plans - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: George Roop Discusses Bout With Hatsu Hioki, Death of Shawn Tompkins - Tim Burke
UFC 137 Video: Danny Downes Fighter Diary In Preparation for Ramsey Nijem - Anton Tabuena
UFC 137: Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Betting Lines - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Countdown Video - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Matt Mitrione's Rapid Rise the Exception, Not the Rule - Leland Roling
UFC 137 Roundtable: Analyzing Nick Diaz's Chances Against B.J. Penn
UFC 137: Nick Diaz Discusses Looking Up to B.J. Penn, Gameplanning - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Breaking Down the Striking of Matt Mitrione - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 137: B.J. Penn Not Offended By Nick Diaz At All - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz - Best Bets for Fight of the Night - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: Donald Cerrone's Unlikely Run May Land Him in Title Contention - Leland Roling
UFC 137: Facebook Card Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Dana White Video Blog, Part 1 - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Cesar Gracie - If Nick Diaz Finishes B.J. Penn, He Should Get GSP Next - Tim Burke