LAS VEGAS-Maybe friends can fight each other.
Nick Diaz proved what a good boxer with sound knowledge of mixed martial arts can do in battering former lightweight and welterweight world champion BJ Penn in winning by unanimous decision on Saturday.
It was no contest.
A brave and stubborn-hearted Penn (16-8-2) announced his retirement soon after the decision was read, giving Diaz (27-7) a win by unanimous decision after three rounds at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. UFC 137 didn’t feature a world title fight but the main event was a stunner.
After a good start that saw Penn score with a take down and some good blows in round one, it was all Diaz from there on. Even UFC president Dana White couldn’t bear to look.
Diaz escaped from a triangle choke and once on his feet he battered the smaller Penn in round two viciously with combinations up and down his body. There was a moment when it appeared Diaz wanted the referee to halt the fight. Penn looked stunned and unable to defend himself, but the fight continued.
In the third round Diaz continued the assault with brutal combinations to the body and head as Penn looked for cover. He attempted to take down Diaz but his legs lacked the quickness from sustaining so much punishment in the earlier round. But he summoned up energy to fight off Diaz’s left-handed blows with some good right counters to the chin. It only slowed Diaz but enabled the Hawaiian to stay in the fight.
Diaz never showed any sympathy in this fight and Penn didn’t look for any.
“It feels good to be back fighting,” said Diaz. “In the second round I turned it on and tried to take him out.”
The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28, and 29-27 for Diaz.
“Hats off to Nick Diaz, he’s the man,” said Penn who absorbed more blows than usual. “It’s probably the last time I fight at this level. I don’t want to go home looking like this.”
Diaz also commended Penn for his fortitude, but offered a different opinion on UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre who was sitting in the audience and pulled out due to injury.
“I don’t think George is hurt. He’s scared,” Diaz said.
The crowd booed loudly.
Heavyweight Cheick Kongo (27-6-2) of France used his experience to win by unanimous decision and hand Matt Mitrione (5-1) his first professional loss after three rounds. The fight began slow and ended with Kongo finally forcing Indiana’s Mitrione to the ground where he scored with a deliberate ground and pound. It wasn’t much and the fans were displeased.
Roy “Big Country” Nelson (17-6) out-slugged MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (21-10) to win by knockout at 3:00 of round three. Though Cro Cop lost the fans truly appreciated the effort he gave and the potential danger he presents for any opponent at any second. Nelson survived a bad round two after taking 20 blows from Cro Cop, but the Croatian spent his load on the effort and was unable to contend with Nelson’s attacks. A big right hand by Nelson and ground and pound attack ended the night for Cro Cop. “It was awesome to compete with a legend,” said Nelson. “I want the championship next.”
Japan’s Hatsu Hioki (30-4-2) out-maneuvered Arizona’s George Roop (12-9) in a three round featherweight fight to win by split decision. Most of the fighting took place along the cage or on the ground. Two judges liked Hioki’s take downs and gave him the edge. “He was stronger than I thought,” said Hatsu.
A showdown between two strong lightweights ended in victory for Colorado’s Don Cerrone (17-3) over Russia’s Dennis Siver (19-8). Two Cerrone left kicks to the jaw resulted in a take down and rear naked choke at 2:22 of round one. It was expected to be a much closer fight but Cerrone showed complexity in his kick selection that resulted in the win.
Bart Palaszewski (36-14) delivered a one-punch knockout over Tyson Griffin (15-6) in a lightweight bout at 2:45 of round one. After stunning Griffin, a swarm of punches followed ending with a right to the jaw. “They told me don’t stop if you hurt him,” said Palaszewski.
Veteran Brandon Vera (12-5) won a surprising unanimous decision over Colorado’s Eliot Marshall (11-5) after three rounds of a light heavyweight clash. Despite walking out with his arm in a makeshift sling, suffering take downs in two rounds and going down from a right uppercut, Vera convinced the judges he was the winner 29-28 on all three cards.
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