Click below for the UFC 137 main event report....
LAS VEGAS, October 29 – 15 compelling minutes with BJ Penn made it clear - it’s been too long since we’ve seen Nick Diaz in the Octagon. But in defeating “The Prodigy” via unanimous decision in the UFC 137 main event Saturday night, Diaz’ first UFC bout since 2006 sent shockwaves through not only the Mandalay Bay Events Center, but through the MMA world, as he apparently retired Penn and put himself squarely in line for a shot at Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title. See post-fight interview with Nick Diaz
“I don’t think Georges is hurt, I think he’s scared,” said Diaz, who was originally scheduled to face St-Pierre on this card before he was pulled from the bout after no-showing two press conferences to promote the fight. St-Pierre was then slated to face Carlos Condit before injuring his knee and withdrawing, pushing Diaz-Penn into the main event slot.
And while seeing the surging Diaz score the win over Penn wasn’t a shocker, Penn’s sudden retirement in the Octagon after the bout was. See post-fight interview with BJ Penn
“Hats off to Nick Diaz,” said Penn. “This is the last time you’ll see me in here. I want to perform at the top level. I’ve got a daughter and another one on the way. I don’t want to go home looking like this.”
Scores were 29-28 twice and 29-27 for the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, who shook off Penn’s strong first round to dominate the next two frames. The bout earned Fight of the Night honors and both men took home an extra $75,000.
The in-arena anticipation for the bout was like that for a world title fight, and Penn came out firing to start the bout, landing a couple good shots before Diaz wrapped him up against the fence. Penn broke loose fairly quickly, again working his striking game and reddening Diaz’ face. After a miss by Diaz, Penn scored a takedown, taking Diaz’ back in an ensuing scramble before settling in the top position. Diaz stayed busy with strikes from his back, and with a little over two minutes left he found his way back to his feet. Pinning Penn to the fence, Diaz’ tried to get his offense in gear, but Penn got away with a quick elbow and continued to impress with his standup. Diaz fired back with his usual busy attack, as well as some taunts, but Penn kept his cool.
A fired up Diaz slapped away Penn’s punches and stuck his chin out as round two began, but again, Penn’s cool served him well as he got in some quick shots before the two tied up. After breaking, the two exchanged at close quarters, but after stuffing a takedown attempt, Diaz was able to mark up Penn’s face with some knees. After that sequence, Diaz began to open up as Penn stood with his back to the fence, and the Stockton native’s body attack appeared to do the most damage. With 1:40 left, Diaz hurt Penn with a left to the head and he opened up with both hands, putting the former two division UFC champ in serious trouble. With less than 20 seconds remaining, Penn finally got a brief respite as the two locked up, but as the bell sounded, Diaz was clearly in control of the fight.
Barely able to contain themselves at the bell to start the final round, Penn tried to lock up with Diaz to get the fight to the ground, but the tireless Diaz wasn’t having it. Penn did use the time to get back to the middle of the Octagon for a moment, a key to him getting back in the fight. Diaz’ relentless attack wasn’t allowing for too many moments of daylight, but Penn did get his shots in, with the evidence showing on Diaz’ face. Diaz was doing the lion’s share of the scoring though, with Penn’s amazing chin on display for all to see. With under two minutes left, Penn surged with a series of hard shots, not ready to give in. A brief tie-up against the fence wasn’t a break, it was just an opportunity for the two to recharge for one last assault, and that’s just what they gave each other, drawing an appreciative roar from the crowd for a final blast of toe-to-toe slugging.
With the win, Diaz improves to 27-7 with 1 NC; Penn falls to 16-8-2.