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UFC 137 Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn: Early Head to Toe Breakdown

Mark PareCorrespondent IIOctober 10, 2011

UFC 137 Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn: Early Head to Toe Breakdown

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    The matchup between Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn will be crucial in determining the next challenger for Georges St. Pierre.

    That determination, of course, is not only about wins, losses and how dominant a fight might be.  It also has to do with how the fighter handles all aspects of being a UFC fighter, yes Diaz, you still need to prove yourself to be a reliable asset to the UFC family.

    Looking to the fight at UFC 137, there are a few aspects to take a look at when it comes to matching up the former two-division UFC champion and the former Strikeforce champion.

Striking

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    The advantage in striking goes to Diaz.  With 13 knockout victories in his MMA career, Diaz has shown that he is outstanding on his feet.

    He learns his boxing from former Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward and is also a professional boxer himself, though he only has one pro fight on his record, from April 2005.

    Penn also has great knockout prowess and ran through Matt Hughes with his skill, and who could ever forget his 11 second knockout of Caol Uno at UFC 34 in November 2001.

    If the fight stays on the feet, advantage Diaz.

Grappling

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    Both fighters are jiu-jitsu black belts and both have a good deal of success with controlling opponents on the ground.

    Penn is world renowned for his flexibility and evading submssions.  He is also known for his submission attempts off his back and is sometimes referred to as "gumby."

    When it comes to the ground game, Penn may have the advantage, based on his success against guys with great ground games.  Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Joe Stevenson and Matt Hughes all fell before The Prodigy, some didn't even have the chance to execute the ground game.

    It's not to say that Diaz has a bad ground game, because he doesn't, but when you compare it to a guy like Penn, it's a close call and Diaz may own Penn on the ground in their fight but at this point, Penn has the advantage on the ground.

Experience

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    When you think UFC experience, obviously Penn would be one man you think of.  In general, both fighters started their careers around the same time and simple math would suggest that Diaz's 33 professional bouts has an edge over Penn's 25.

    Consistency is key and Diaz has been a consistent fighter throughout his MMA career,  He hardly gets injured and has taken six months off between fights, maximum.

    Ring rust isn't something you like to float around and most fighters will prove the term is a myth, but when it comes to fight experience, give the nod to Diaz.

Big Fight Experience

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    Big fight experience has to go to Penn, without any doubt.

    Diaz may have more fights on his record, but when you take a look at who these fighters have gone through, you will see that Penn's bouts had more of a big game feel to them.

    A multiple-time multi-division champion in the UFC and has been facing top-10 fighters for the vast majority of his career.

    Penn will benefit from that big fight atmosphere because he knows what is on the line.  He has established himself as a top fighter in the world and is hungrier than ever to make a name for himself in the welterweight division, a division that he once reigned supreme.

    Victories over Matt Hughes, Sean Sherk, Renzo Gracie, Takanori Gomi, Caol Uno and Matt Serra trumps the majority of Diaz's wins.

    Don't discredit the Diaz wins, he earned them all and will be looking to earn another one against one of the all time greats in the UFC.

    There was a reason he was nicknamed "The Prodigy" and that experience will suit Penn quite well as he goes into his 21st UFC fight.

Momentum

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    Momentum can take you places you have never gone before.  The simplest moves can bring an underrated fighter to the mountain top and the slightest of knocks can bring a world champion to his knees.

    Everything is about momentum, how you feel going into a bout.  Confidence in yourself and how well your camp went.  A good camp could mean the difference but mainly, it's also about riding a hot streak like Diaz is.

    Penn was knocked down a few pegs after his two consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar and is starting to climb the UFC ladder once again, after earning a knockout win over Matt Hughes at UFC 123 and his draw against Jon Fitch at UFC 127.

    Diaz hasn't lost a fight since November 2007, a fight that was stopped due to multiple cuts and we all know how well Diaz took that decision.  Before that, Diaz last lost to Sean Sherk at UFC 59.

    Diaz is on a 10 fight winning streak and will ride that momentum to UFC 137.

    Diaz takes the momentum factor and based on all the elements featured here, has the overall advantage.

    What do you think?

     

    Mark Pare is a Featured Columnist. You can follow him on  Twitter and don't forget to check out his sportswriter page.

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