UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz LowKick.com Staff PredictionsPosted on October 29, 2011, 07:23 AM by Anton Gurevich
Anton Gurevich: For the sake of Japanese MMA, I hope Hatsu Hioki wins his fight. But it’s not only about JMMA. When looking at Hioki and his Mixed Martial Arts record, it’s pretty obvious that he’s the best that the Land of the Rising Sun currently has to offer. Roop is a tough opponent, and a much bigger fighter than Hioki is used to in Japan, nevertheless, I'll put my money (and reputation) on The Child of Shooto to get his hand raised after a trademark Triangle Choke Submission.
Ryan Ventura: Hatsu Hioki may not be a name many UFC fans are familiar with, but he has made a name for himself not only in Japan but in North America as well. Many major MMA sites consider Hioki number two to Jose Aldo in the Featherweight rankings and he has the record to back it up having beaten the likes of Mark Hominick in Canadian soil twice. Hioki is not only a dangerous fighter on the ground; his MMA boxing is also quite good. Not taking anything away anything from George Roop, I just don’t think he has the well-rounded skill set to beat someone like Hatsu Hioki. I predict “The Child of Shooto” will score a 2nd round submission victory in his UFC debut.
Trent Reinsmith: If history tells us one thing, it’s the UFC is an unkind place for most elite Japanese MMA fighters. Hioki is the latest Japanese star that will try to make a name for himself in the Octagon. Most rank him in the top 3-5 in the Featherweight division and while on paper he is much better than his opponent George Roop, this is by no means a walk in the park for Hioki. My gut tells me to go with Hioki, but I just can’t do it. I may be way off base on this one, but I see Roop winning. Roop by split decision.
Joey Santosus: I typically have a hard time picking fighters looking to make the transition from the Japanese MMA scene to the UFC octagon. As we've seen in the past, even the most elite fighters out of Japan, such is Hioki, have struggled to find success in the States. However, in this case, I am rather confident that Hioki will break that trend. The former Sengoku and Shooto champ has never been stopped in his 30-fight professional career and has solid victories over Marlon Sandro, Mark Hominick (twice), and Jeff Curran. Look for Hioki to drag the fight to the ground and secure a submission sooner or later - my money is on sooner. Hatsu Hioki via 1st Rnd Submission.
Anton Gurevich: Jeff Curran impressively recovered from four consecutive defeats, but at least in my opinion, Scott Jorgensen is too much too soon for the 33-13 veteran. Jorgensen is hungry to get himself back into the UFC Bantamweight title picture, and he will not do Curran any favors. I pick Jorgensen via Decision.
Ryan Ventura: Curran will have a lot of experience on side going into this bout; however “Young Guns” will have a lot of confidence going into this bout after scoring a 1st round KO victory over Ken Stone at the TUF 13 finale in June. You can argue that “Big Frog” going into this bout is the better striker and has a stronger BJJ pedigree, but Jorgensen has fantastic submission defence, and is tough as nails. This will be a heck of a fight and I think Scott Jorgensen can grind out a decision.
Trent Reinsmith: Jorgensen is hungry to get back into Bantamweight title contention after knocking out Ken Stone in June. His only loss in his last seven fights has been to current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. Curran, coming back into the Zuffa fold after two years, has only two advantage in this fight, experience and BJJ. Jorgensen is a better striker and wrestler, so look for him to use those skills to negate the BJJ of Curran and grind out a win. Jorgensen by unanimous decision.
Joey Santosus: The last man to challenge Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz in the WEC, Scott Jorgensen is a strong wrestler with enough power in his hands to end things early if given the opportunity. Jeff Curran, however, is a wiley veteran with a solid chin and dangerous guard. With that said, expect Jorgensen to use his wrestling to control Curran and create openings, while cautiously avoiding submission attempts. It's not likely he'll finish "The Big Frog," but he should take this one comfortably. Scott Jorgensen via Decision.
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson
Top Prediction: Big Country via KO/TKO in Round 2
Anton Gurevich: It’s hard to pick against Mirko Cro Cop after his emotional speech at the UFC 137 pre-fight press conference. Cro Cop will go guns blazing against Roy Nelson, looking to retire as a winner, and not as a loser. Nelson is a big fight for Filipovic, one of his biggest in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so I simply expect from him to step up to the occasion. Mirko via TKO in Round 3 (High Kick).
Ryan Ventura: As a fan, Mirko Cro Cop is one of my favorite fighters to watch of all time. In his prime he beat the likes of Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett (three times), and fought brave fights with the likes of Minotauro Nogueira and Fedor Emelianenko. During his UFC stint however, he sadly has become a shell of the fighter he used to be. Roy Nelson seems to have a head made out of iron and a fist full of dynamite. If this fight goes to the ground, “Big Country” could use his unique brand of Jiu-Jitsu against the K-1 caliber striker and possibly score a submission or ride out a decision. But I’m not going to pick a decision or submission for this bout. Cro Cop has been violently KO’ed in three of his last five fights and that has to take a toll on your body to absorb that kind of punishment from seventeen years of professional fighting. I’m picking Big Country 3rd round TKO and all the best in life after fighting Mr. Filipović *tips hat*.
Trent Reinsmith: I am sure that most fans will be pulling for Cro Cop; he will be the sentimental favorite in this fight. Sadly, that is the only place he will be the favorite. Nelson may not look it and his personality may not convey it, but he is a tough fighter. At this point he can absorb anything Cro Cop can deliver. On the flip side of that he can deliver more than Cro Cop, and he will. Nelson by third round KO.
Joey Santosus: Both of these fighters are on a two-fight losing skid and in need of a win; Cro Cop for his legacy and Nelson to prove he's still a relevant addition to the Heavyweight division. But, while "Big Country" appears to have rededicated himself to the sport, slimming down and "returning to his roots," Cro Cop seems to have made peace with his short comings as of late. Though I'd like to see the "Croatian Sensation" go out on a win, it's more likely his chin will betray him once again. Roy Nelson via 2nd Rnd KO.
Anton Gurevich: I believe that Cheick Kongo is a much more technical striker than Matt Mitrione. Obviously, Meathead is a force to be reckoned with, but in my opinion, this fight will be decided in stand-up. I don’t think this one will go to the ground, simply because Matt Mitrione wouldn’t want to risk by having someone like Kongo raining punches from the top. It’s easy to talk about how bad is Kongo’s ground game, but the facts are still there - the only fighter who was recently able to control the Frenchman on the ground is Cain Velasquez. My prediction is Check Kongo via TKO in Round 2.
Ryan Ventura: A very interesting fight, a possible candidate for Knockout of the Night written all over this. This will be “Meathead’s” toughest bout to date against a more experienced and technical striker in Cheik Kongo. The Djimon Hounsou (see the movie Blood Diamond or Never Back Down) look-a-like is the only man to rock and take Cain Velasquez the distance and ten of his sixteen victories are via KO. The former NFL’er Mitrione has scored four out of five KO’s in his career and looks to add Kongo to that list. I don’t think Mitrione has the grappling abilities to take down Kongo nor do I think he can out strike Kongo either. I’m predicting Kongo 1st round TKO.
Trent Reinsmith: If you stood these two next to each other without knowing anything about them as MMA competitors it would be easy to assume that Kongo is the better of the two athletes. However, looks can be deceiving. Mitrione is the more athletic fighter; he is also improving with each fight in the UFC. Kongo is a step up in competition for Mitrione, no doubt about that, but there is really no reason to believe that Mitrione cannot move on to the next level of UFC Heavyweights by passing Kongo by. Mitrione by second round TKO.
Joey Santosus: Cheick Kongo offers a considerable step up in competition for Matt Mitrione, whose learning curve since TUF 10 has been nothing short of impressive. Mitrione's quick hands and effective footwork make him a threat standing, but his recent cage-work with Randy Couture leads me to believe he'll also look to close the distance and use his size to outwork the durable Frenchman. Matt Mitrione via Decision.
Anton Gurevich: Don’t get me wrong, Nick Diaz is a fantastic fighter, but he never fought anyone, except Paul Daley maybe, out of 170lbs’ Top 10. In my opinion, BJ Penn is a different animal, who will present Diaz things he never experienced in a fight. I can’t see Diaz controlling the action same way he did during his famous run of Strikeforce Welterweight title defenses. Simply because BJ Penn is not Zarkomskis, Cyborg Santos or KJ Noons. He’s BJ Penn. One way or another It will be an extremely tough fight for BJ Penn, but I expect him to keep the distance from Diaz, stick and move, and win this fight via a dominant Decision.
Ryan Ventura: This main event could be fight of the night and possibly fight of 2011. This fight is so evenly matched, for many trying to make a prediction on this bout have been extremely tough. It’s 50/50 in my opinion and it could go either way. Both men have very good MMA boxing, but some might argue that BJ Penn’s Jiu-Jitsu / grappling game could be better. Let’s not forget that Diaz has a more than respectable grappling game for MMA and his Jiu-Jitsu could be a threat as well. Let’s also note that Nick’s gas tank is arguably the best in the whole sport. This fight will come down to pure heart, who has a tougher chin, and possibly leather skin. Penn has an iron chin and hasn’t been knocked out clean in his whole career. BJ without question is a legend and has done it all in this sport, but Nick Diaz is in his prime right now, and is looking to create a legend for himself in this game. A combination of Diaz’ reach, volume, power, an iron chin of his own, and stamina could score the victory. If he could beat Hilo’s favorite son, he’ll be one step closer to that title shot he originally had. I think Diaz could be the first man to TKO BJ Penn (Round 2).
Trent Reinsmith: From the words being uttered by Nick Diaz in advance of this fight, it sounds as if he would rather be anywhere but in the cage with Penn come Saturday night. He has all but said, don’t expect to see the “normal” Nick Diaz when he faces BJ. With that in mind, I think that Penn will take the fight to Diaz. Diaz will look to keep Penn at a distance with his reach, but I just don’t see him being motivated enough to engage Penn in any way, shape or form. I hope I am wrong on the above. Penn by unanimous decision.
Joey Santosus: Though Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn have shown a great deal of respect for one another ahead of this one, I anticipate the same level of intensity inside the cage that we've come to expect from each of these competitors. And while both are as aggressive as they are technical, I like Diaz's relentless pace, resiliency, and reach advantage to ultimately give him the edge on the judges' scorecards. Nick Diaz via Decision.