It was another show with a much changed main event as B.J. Penn faced Nick Diaz at UFC 137, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with action from the featherweight division as Hatsu Hioki went up against George Roop.
This was one of those very intriguing back and forth battles. It wasn’t overly spectacular but it was great to watch.
Roop put on a good striking display early on, rocking Hioki with a big right and looking good in the clinches against the cage. One thing he couldn’t stop though was Hioki’s take downs in the first two rounds.
But while Hioki’s take downs were great he didn’t actually do much when he got into position, it was as if he didn’t know what to do. Roop managed to get him on the back foot after one of these periods with a up kick straight to the face.
Roop upped his game in the third, immediately scoring with the early take down and getting another take down late on. His work rate on the ground seemed to be that much more than Hioki’s, but like his opponent he couldn’t find a finish.
So with the fight going the distance the judges were called in as Hioki earning the split decision, something which didn’t sit too well with those in attendance.
Then it was down to bantamweight as Scott Jorgensen took on Jeff Curran.
Once again the company’s smaller fighters put on a great exhibition. It was another of those intriguing encounters in which both men put in a great night’s work.
It began quickly as they moved around the ring looking to get the first strike in, but when Jorgensen scored with the take downs Curran put on a great display of defensive fighting as Jorgensen attempted to weave his magic during the first two rounds, going for a guillotine at one point which Jorgensen easily escaped from.
The final round was a mainly striking affair, and by that time the fatigue factor was beginning to set in, and Curran looked like he’d hurt his hand at one point. The fight finished on the ground as Jorgensen defended Curran’s shot before taking side control.
Once again the judges were called into action Jorgensen took the close unanimous decision.
It was up to the heavyweight division for the next fight as Roy Nelson faced Mirko Cro Cop.
This was the fight I was really looking forward to, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The first two rounds saw Nelson putting in an excellent display as he rocked his Croatian opponent a number of times. Cro Cop had his moments, but at times he looked a little one dimensional.
Cro Cop’s best moment came in the second. After Nelson connected with a big right Cro Cop came back with a barrage of blows to the body. Nelson managed to survive this onslaught, and after getting his win back he moved up a gear.
Nelson took Cro Cop down towards the end of the round, taking side control and putting his man in the crucifix position before unloading with a succession of lefts to the head.
The end came in the third round. When Cro Cop slipped Nelson took control, taking his man’s back and going to work with the ground and pound. It wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to give Nelson the impressive TKO win.
After the fight Cro Cop, disappointed with his performance, announced his retirement. A part of me would like to see him fight again, but a part of me thinks he’s made the right decision.
The heavyweight action continued with Cheick Kongo taking on Matt Mitrione.
This was one of those fights that was both infuriating and good to watch at the same time.
The feeling out period lasted for the better part of the first round, the only real action being a clinch against the cage that the referee eventually brought a halt to.
The second round featured a bit more action as they engaged in a striking battle. Kongo had some success with his leg kicks, while Mitrione rocked his man with some stinging shots.
The third round was the most action packed. Kongo soon scored with a take down, his ground and pound opening up a cut around Mitrione’s left eye. A second take down saw the Frenchman dominating the remainder of the round with his ground and pound, a tactic that Mitrione didn’t seem to have any answer to.
So once again the judges were called into action as Kongo took the unanimous decision.
The main event saw B.J. Penn taking on Nick Diaz in the welterweight division.
After all the changes to the main event this show needed a quality fight to end the evening, and it certainly got it with this fight.
This was an excellent outing from Diaz, and while Penn enjoyed some early success on the ground and bloodied his man’s face with some nice shots from the second round onwards Diaz took control.
As the old saying goes Diaz was beating Penn up. His striking was top notch as he used the Prodigy for target practice, turning his face in a bloody and puffed up mess. Penn tried to fight back but Diaz was at the top of his game, and it seemed as if there wasn’t anything Penn could do to stop the onslaught.
The judges were called into action yet again, and it came as no surprise that Diaz earned the unanimous decision for this top drawer performance.
The show rounded out with filler material as Dennis Siver faced Donald Cerrone in the lightweight division.
Cerrone began this one like a greyhound out of the traps, beginning an exchange of quick blows. It wasn’t long before a left kick staggered Siver, who grabbed the leg to save himself from further punishment.
But further punishment wasn’t far away as Cerrone took control, another left kick staggering Siver again. This time the Cowboy took Siver’s back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
In conclusion - with all the changes to the main event the UFC had to deliver a quality show. But who were we to doubt them?
Although there were some uninspiring moments from top to bottom UFC 137 achieved what it set out to do, with the performances of Roy Nelson and Nick Diaz the highlights of the night for me, and while I don’t think Nelson is quite ready for a title shot at the moment it’s obvious that Diaz is.
So in all UFC 137 gets the thumbs up from this particular writer. They really are the best they are at what they do.