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
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.
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