UFC 137 Recap: Diaz, Nelson, Cerrone rule the night

Penn vs Diaz

Saturday night’s Nick Diaz/BJ Penn headliner in UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas, Nevada proved to be one for the ages. The two stood toe-to-toe delivering vicious head shots from the stand up leaving both fighters battered and bloody. In the end, it was the Stockton psycho with his hand raised and Penn announcing he was retired from the ring.

Round one was pretty much even with a slight edge going to Penn. There was very little “feeling out” in this one with both fighters throwing haumakers from the git go. Penn took Diaz down once but was unable to capitalize. Penn was able to get inside despite Diaz’s superior reach and his accuracy in close won him the round.

In round two, Diaz began to find the range. The ex-Strikeforce champ stunned “The Prodigy” and then did some serious damage with knees and body shots as Penn was locked against the cage. Diaz’s numerous combinations had Penn hanging on at the end of the round. Round two clearly all Diaz.

Despite getting punished in round two, Penn chose to slug it out with Diaz in the money round. Penn had his moments and was extremely accurate when he did throw, but Diaz’s sheer volume of leather won the bout in a 29-28, 29-27 and 29-28 decision. Diaz immediately called out the injured Georges St Pierre who was at ringside. Penn told Joe Rogan that he could no longer compete on the highest and didn’t want to go home to his little girls looking like he did.

Both fighters were awarded $75,000 fight-of-the-night bonuses. Diaz was rewarded at the post-fight news conference with a Super Bowl weekend matchup with George St Pierre. Penn became the second MMA legend of the night to announce his retirement.

Nelson vs Cro Cop

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic wanted to end his career on a win but in the end, would up a TKO loser to Roy “Big Country” Nelson. Cro Cop more than held his own and delivered several big shots that had Nelson covereing up. The tide turned half way through round two when Nelson was able to take Filipovic down and gaining side control, was able to get the Croation policeman in a crucifix and dishing out 15 unanswered blows before the end of the round.

Cro Cop went for broke in the third round but a slip enabed Nelson to gain a back mount and pummel away on the turtled ex-Pride champ. Herb Dean ended the fight at 1:30 of the tird saving the helpless Cro Cop from further damage. In a classy goodbye to MMA and it’s fans, Cro Cop announced the end of his 10-year career to the cheers of the crowd. Nelson lightheartedly called out the winner of the Velasquez/Dos Santos winner. Nelson (16-6, 3-2 UFC) saved his career despite coming in at a pillsbury dough boy 256.

Cerrone vs Siver

The night’s most impressive performance came from Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone who choked out the very tough Dennis Siver half way through the first round. Siver is well known for his devestating spinning back kick but Saturday night he was the victim of Cerrone’s “Cowboy Boots”. Cerrone rocked Siver several times early before connecting with a kick to the left side of the head that floored the Russian fighting out of Germany. The rear-naked choke off back mount was a formailty as Siver tapped immediately. Cerrone has now won six straight and is now a top player in the loaded 155 pound division. Cerrone picked up an additional 75K for the submission of the night.

In other fights on the card ….

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione entered the Octagon a perfect 5-0 but the ex-Viking/Giant left the right a loser to veteran Cheick Kongo in a bout featuring little to no action. This was Kongo’s ninth win in the UFC and while it is clear that he’ll never wear a belt, the big man can still sort out the wannabes with his big strike power and smart ground and pound.

The week didn’t start or end well for featherweight Tyson Griffin. He failed to make weight forcing the bout to be held at the catchweight of 148 and forfeiting 25% of his “show-up” fee to 36-14 Bart Palazewski. Sporting a red-Mohawk and looking like something out of a Mad Max nightmare, Palazewski also added $75K to his coffers with a punishing knowckout at just 2:45 of round one. Griffin has now lost four of five and is likely on to a smaller promotion until when and if he can ever get himself together.