By MATT MOLGAARD
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer
UFC 137 has been plagued by injuries and debacle. While fans were initially in store for a duel between UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre and Strikeforce welterweight champ, Nick Diaz, that flew out the window when Diaz no-showed a major press conference. In came Carlos Condit, who was initially tabbed to battle the legendary B.J. Penn. No sooner had Diaz been eliminated from the title bout, that Condit was promoted to headliner; it would be “The Natural Born Killer” now challenging St. Pierre for the strap. But, that didn’t pan out either, as the bout was later scrapped when St. Pierre injured his knee.
Now, we’ve got Nick Diaz once more promoted to headliner, as he battles friend and occasional training partner, B.J. Penn. If that weren’t enough, the undercard has undergone some changes as a result of injury as well, but if I remain on this path, I could be talking about sidelined fighters all day.
Jeff Curran vs. Scott Jorgensen: This match holds some serious intrigue. Jorgensen is a man who can wrestle like there’s no tomorrow, but he loves to bang, and he’s more than capable of snagging a standing submission. He’s lightning quick, and as durable as they come. Curran on the other hand is just as durable, more experienced and a submission wizard who will take a limb home if the opportunity presents itself. Curran’s fought for nearly every noteworthy promotion in the sports’ history, save for the UFC. He’s waited a long time to get here, and he’s going to be fighting to earn respect and stability. Unfortunately for him, I see Jorgensen stuffing the shot, overwhelming him early and wearing him down en route to a unanimous decision win.
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop: I’m going to keep this one real simple. I’m a firm believer that Hatsu Hioki is superior to Roop in every element of fighting, save for kicks. I don’t see Hioki getting caught a high kick in this one, I see him closing the distance, battering Roop on the inside, taking the fight to the mat and submitting his American foe. I see that all unraveling midway through the second round.
Mirko Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson: There was a time when I would have summarized this fight by saying “Crocop, KO, round one.” Those days are long, long gone. Crocop, who was once one of the most dangerous strikers in the game, has become tentative, rarely letting his hands or feet go, but favoring the infamous chest push. He’s not going to push “Big Country” around. Not many do. He’s not going to knock Roy out either, as he’s got to work offense to make that happen, and he seems to have trouble doing so; couple that with Nelson’s otherworldly chin and you can almost guarantee Nelson isn’t going to sleep until much later after the fight, and a nice meal. The likely scenario sees Nelson’s aggression pick up points. I believe Crocop will be cautious enough to avoid the knockout, but he’s likely to be outworked, and worn down by the massive Nelson. It’s been a while since Mirko has been submitted, but I see Nelson heading for his roots in the fights final round, where he locks up a kimura from side control.
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione: This fight is not only a curiosity… it’s a fight that holds a whole lot of implications. If Mitrione gets by Kongo, especially in impressive fashion, he’ll be in line to battle a top 5 opponent, which could, conceivably align the former TUF competitor for a title shot within two or three fights. The striking is interesting, as I feel Mitrione’s straight punches and natural power are superior to Kongo’s pugilistic abilities. However, I see Kongo as the far stronger fighter in the leg kick department, and if there’s anything that can take away a man’s power, it’s the ability to use his legs. I’m inclined to believe Kongo’s chin may be slightly more suspect, but he’s got phenomenal recovery ability; the verdict is, for the most part, still out on Mitrione’s beard. The wrestling department is another interesting category, as Kongo possesses the better top control and ground and pound, while Mitrione’s takedown’s and submissions look to be a step ahead of his opponents. I see this one as a coin toss match. The coin is tossed: Mitrione, by KO in round 1.
B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz: I see the intricacies of this bout as simplicities really. Nick must avoid the early onslaught of Penn. If Diaz escapes round two in decent shape, he’s going to TKO B.J. Penn, likely in the fight’s final frame. However, if B.J. can land something big early, he can cut Diaz and work for a referee stoppage; I don’t see him putting Nick to sleep with his fists, and I don’t see him submitting him either. Given Penn’s past performances at welterweight, I’m leaning in Diaz’s direction in this fight. I think he’s got the superior conditioning, and he survives any danger Penn can put him in early, and delivers enough damage of his own to stop B.J. Penn with strikes in the final round to, once again, secure a title shot.