When the main event for UFC 137 ring-a-ding-dings in the two combatants won’t be injured welterweight guru Georges St-Pierre against message board crush Carlos Condit, but instead a clash of two unique fighters in every regard.
BJ Penn has been fighting for all of his life. The native of Hilo, Hawaii and proprietor of BJPENN.COM has always been called one of the most talented fighters ever. He may be the only fighter capable of pulling off the gogoplata UFC commentator has long been searching for, but Penn has always carried the “when focused and motivated” moniker for most of his fighting career. He’s had his runs at light heavyweight, welterweight, and back and forth, but he’s always been plagued for lacking the dedication needed to support his immense ability.
There really hasn’t been a fighter that’s been able to mix the elite level of boxing and grappling that BJ brings to the table. He is one of the most explosive fighters (“when focused and motivated”) in UFC history, and his incomparable ability to adapt so quickly has, for better or worse, created this divide between fighting BJ and normal BJ. Most fighters, in their primes, are just that, fighters. BJ is very much his own person outside of the ring, and when a fight comes, he gets into training mode. But as UFC Primetime has shown in the past, that’s not always the easiest transition for Penn to make.
This BJ Penn we are getting on Saturday appears to be focused and understanding that his fight career is winding down.
“I’d love to get another title before I step out of the game,” Penn recently said on a media conference call.
“I’d love to get another, maybe win the welterweight title one more time. Maybe even, if possible, try to the lightweight title another time,” he said.
After Saturday night, none of that is out of the question. He has a rematch with Jon Fitch (and the less heralded, self-promoted jonfitch.net) at 70, but could easily slide back down to 155 if he wants another run at the title. The road he goes down will be directed by the outcome Saturday against a fighter not all too dissimilar from BJ, Nick Diaz
The former Strikeforce welterweight champ, Nick Diaz is back in the UFC. After being booted from the organization for doing Nick Diaz things, the talented boxer and jiu-jitsu ace from Stockton, California will look to cement his reputation as a legitimate threat to GSP’s title.
Of course, Diaz was supposed to fight for that title this Saturday, but what is irrefutable is that Diaz did not fulfill his contractual obligations and was subsequently removed from the title fight by UFC President Dana White and almost kicked out of the UFC again. This is nothing new in the enigmatic and uncompromising Diaz whose post-fight antics (yelling at fighters, ignoring interviewers questions only to share his love of Stockton, CA and Gracie jiu-jitsu, a post fight in-ring brawl, failed drug tests…) are almost as enthralling as what he does within the ring.
After a substantial run through Strikeforce, Diaz became a hot commodity again for his aggressive style and entertaining fights. A reputation that Dana White could not pass up on when he brought him back to the UFC. With the bad comes the bad though, and Diaz proved to be his rebellious self and not tow the company line. Now, he has to earn his title shot. A shot he now acknowledges he wants and even is remorseful about passing up.
No matter the chaos going on outside the cage, Diaz comes to fight. And when this uncompromising kid goes against an incomparable talent, a fight reaches a point where title implications and career goals don’t matter. Both fighters don’t care about the stuff so many fighters do care about. This isn’t a lack of respect for the sport, but a love for fighting.
While the main event may not be what the pay-per-view buyers and ticket holders were looking for, I would expect nothing other than two guys making us care about those 3 rounds of action.