UFC 137 took place this past Saturday at a sold out Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and it was definitely one for the history books. No – there was no gold on the line. Instead, there was was one fighter who proved himself octagon worthy, one fighter that staked his claim as the number one contender for UFC gold, as well as two historical retirements.
HEADLINES COMING OUT OF UFC 137
Donald Cerrone is the real deal: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a former WEC star back when the WEC fighters didn’t seem up to par as their UFC counterparts. He has not lost since a rematch with Ben Henderson for the lightweight championship winning six in a row including four straight in the UFC this calendar year alone. Saturday he took out Dennis Siver in easy fashion via first round submission. Siver was only one or two wins away from a championship opportunity. Cowboy is not planning to slow down at all. Up next: Co-main event status for UFC 141 when he battles Nate Diaz. With top contenders such as Miller, Siver, and Guillard going down, Cowboy has climbed right up the top of the ladder in the lightweight division.
Two legends retire: Before the night, Pride and MMA legend Mirko Cro Cop had already stated if he loses he was going to retire from mixed martial arts and if he won – well – he had 37 reasons (his age) to retire as well. A former Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion, Mirko established a less than stellar 4-6 record in the UFC – never being able to recover from Gabriel Gonzaga’s only highlight reel knockout. Cro Cop took on a slimmed down Roy Nelson who wore a fat suit to the weigh ins. He finally realized his job was on the line as well losing his past two more because of his conditioning than anything else. The fight was a good battle and Cro Cop looked pretty good. He was also able to take a punch which is a great sign considering his last few flash-knockout losses. In the end, dare I say it, Nelson’s conditioning was the difference. After the fight Roy jokingly called out the winner of Velasquez/Dos Santos (aka the heavyweight champion). Truthfully, in such a slim heavyweight division, his next opponent will either be someone coming over from Strikeforce (Bigfoot Silva?) or Cheick Kongo who won a lackluster affair over previously undefeated Matt Mitrione.
Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn was the main event for the card but truthfully was the third main event planned for this night. Nick Diaz, the Welterweight Champion in Strikeforce, agreed to relinquish the belt in order for a “unification” match with the UFC’s Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Diaz had won 10 straight since leaving the UFC a few years ago and was seen as someone that may have the tools (excellent jiu jitsu and boxing) to counter GSP and give him a fight. However, Diaz did not show up for two scheduled press conferences and Dana White had enough before things got started. Carlos Condit, BJ Penn’s original opponent, got bumped up to the title shot and Diaz got bumped down to face Penn. A knee injury to GSP just two weeks ago then scrapped that main event and Diaz/Penn got pushed back up. Diaz and Penn put on the fight of the night – BJ dominating the first round, Diaz the second, and both swinging hard in the third. Diaz won by decision, with one judge giving him a 10-8 for his second round domination, domination the likes BJ Penn has never seen. Immediately after the fight, you could over here Diaz’s corner telling him to call out GSP which he did. The fans went crazy and wanted this fight so bad that during the post-fight press conference, Dana White announced Condit has “agreed” to step aside and allow Diaz to fight GSP for the championship. Conspiracy theorists will question why Condit “agreed” to this. He himself said GSP chose Diaz, he did not agree to step aside. Could this have been the plan all along? Have Diaz get built up in front of the UFC crowd then face GSP in a huge fight, and if BJ won than Condit would take that fight “as planned?” Up Next for all three: BJ Penn stated he is retiring, we’ll see. Diaz will take on GSP in an unnumbered UFC on Super Bowl Weekend in Vegas. Carlos Condit will fight on the same card against an unnamed opponent.
Photo of the year candidate courtesy of cagepotato.com
It’s a busy time of the year for the UFC with three cards in the month of November itself on three consecutive Saturdays. UFC 138 is this Saturday from England with an intriguing main event between Chris Leben and Chris Munoz. Munoz is on the verge of being a title contender and we all know what Leben brings to the table in the middleweight division. It will also be the first 5 round non-title fight in UFC history -as is mandatory for all future non-title main events.
11/5/11: UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz
Location: Birmingham, England (tape delay SPIKE TV)
Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz
Renan Barao vs. Brad Pickett
Papy Abedi vs. Thiago Alves
Terry Etim vs. Edward Faaloloto
Cyrille Diabate vs. Anthony Perosh