Nick Diaz beat B.J. Penn to the punch often at UFC 137. | Photo: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken
Nick Diaz took out B.J. Penn and took aim at welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
The ruthless Diaz whipped into Penn with his trademark high-volume strikes en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision in the UFC 137 headliner on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. By the time it was done, Penn’s face was a bloody and swollen mess, having absorbed countless blows to the head and body from the former Strikeforce champion.
The judges scored it 29-28, 29-27 and 29-28, all for Diaz (26-7, 1 NC, 7-4 UFC), who has won a career-best 11 consecutive fights. St. Pierre -- who withdrew from his UFC 137 title defense against Carlos Condit with a knee injury -- quickly became his next target.
“I don’t think Georges is hurt,” Diaz said. “I think he’s scared to fight everybody right now.”
Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2 UFC) was competitive for a round, as he willfully traded with Diaz, took down the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and briefly seized back control. Diaz defended well and returned to his feet. He found another gear in the second round and Penn could not keep up, as he uncorked a relentless stream of accurate punches to the head and body. The merciless attack wore down Penn. The Hawaiian could barely breathe, much less return fire. The beating continued in round three.
“Hat’s off to Nick Diaz,” Penn said. “He’s the man.”
Afterward, Penn leaned towards retirement.
“This is probably the last time you’re ever going to see me here,” he said. “I want to perform at the top level. You know what? I’ve got a daughter and another daughter on the way. I don’t want to go home looking like this. I’m done.”
Kongo Hands Mitrione First Loss
In the co-main event, effective counterstriking and low kicks, paired with late takedowns and heavy ground-and-pound, carried French kickboxer Cheick Kongo to a unanimous nod over the previously unbeaten Matt Mitrione. All three judges ruled in Kongo’s favor: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Mitrione (5-1, 5-1 UFC) pressed forward throughout much of the heavyweight bout, but he came up short in the clinches and succumbed to a pair of takedowns in the third round. Kongo (17-6-2, 10-4-1 UFC) let loose with punches and elbows from the top, opening a cut near Mitrione’s left eye. Swelling followed, as well, the fight slipping from the Integrated Fighting Academy representative’s grasp. A quarterfinalist on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Mitrione failed to let his hands go with enough regularity and spent too much time on his back late in the fight.
Nelson Sends ‘Cro Cop’ Into Retirement
Mirko Filipovic showed glimpses of the vintage “Cro Cop” but, at 37 years of age, did not have nearly enough in the tank to hold off “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson in a heavyweight showcase, as he stopped the Croatian great on third-round punches. It was over 90 seconds into round three.
The two heavyweights were even for much of their encounter. Filipovic had Nelson (16-6, 3-2 UFC) reeling in the second round, as he pounced after a slip and swarmed with punches to the head and body. Nelson weathered them, kept moving forward and scored with a takedown later in the period. From there, he worked his heavy top game, trapped Filipovic in a mounted crucifix and popped him with short, energy-sapping punches.
At the start of round three, it was clear Filipovic was a spent force. Nelson delivered a straight left hand that sent the 2006 Pride Fighting Championships open weight grand prix winner sprawling forward with a sloppy takedown attempt. The American then transitioned easily to back mount and unleashed a series of unanswered blows to the head for the finish.
“I guess I’m going to do a Chael Sonnen right now,” said Nelson, tongue firmly in cheek. “I’m supposed to call somebody out. Who’s fighting next week? I think Junior [dos Santos] and [Cain] Velasquez. I want the championship. I’m getting too old for this s---, so that’s who I want.”
Afterward, Filipovic (27-10-2, 4-6 UFC) bid an unofficial goodbye to the sport.
“Well, I said before this fight that it would be my farewell,” he said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. I wanted to say goodbye with a victory, but Roy was better tonight. I want to thank all you guys, especially the UFC fans. I was treated like a king.”
Jorgensen Spoils Curran’s Return
Former WEC title contender Scott Jorgensen rode takedowns, top control and tactical ground-and-pound to a unanimous decision over the well-traveled Jeff Curran in a featured bantamweight battle. The man they call “Young Guns” swept the scorecards, as he won for the seventh time in eight outings: 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Jorgensen (13-4, 2-0 UFC) secured multiple takedowns, kept Curran on his back and on the defensive and largely neutralized the 34-year-old veteran’s tricky guard. Curran (33-14-1, 0-2 UFC) scored effectively on the feet and threatened with a second-round guillotine choke, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt came up short in his first Octagon appearance since January 2004.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had an actual jiu-jitsu coach,” Jorgensen said. “The sky is the limit from here. I would have loved a more exciting fight, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Roop Upset Bid Falls Short, Hioki Gets Decision
Former Sengoku Raiden Championship and Shooto titleholder Hatsu Hioki escaped his UFC debut with a split verdict over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 semifinalist George Roop in a 145-pound showcase. Two of the three judges scored it 29-28 for Hioki (25-4-2, 1-0 UFC); a third dissented and ruled 29-28 in Roop’s favor.
Roop (12-8-1, 2-4 UFC) outstruck Hioki throughout the fight, as he delivered combinations to the head and body and fired off routine head kicks. Hioki responded with takedowns, using trips in the first and second rounds. The Japanese star did his best work in the second, when he transitioned deftly between mount and side control. However, Roop mounted effective defense from his back and returned to his feet late in the frame.
A former two-division Rage in the Cage champion, Roop secured two takedowns of his own in the third round and battled Hioki for dominant position in the clinch, but his efforts went unrewarded on the scorecards. Hioki has won five consecutive fights and 10 of his last 11.
“I want to say something to the world,” he said. “Even though we are in a tough situation, Japanese MMA is not dead.”
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