Many fans often over look Nick Diaz. He is easily in the top five of the most hated-on fighters in MMA. In most cases his talents are overlooked, and he is constantly judged by past actions.
Nick is a very gifted and well rounded fighter, and at UFC 137 he will have the biggest fight of his career when he faces one of his favorite fighters , BJ Penn.
BJ Penn is one of the most well known and dangerous fighters in MMA history. He has fought in multiple weight classes, and has been champion in two of them. He has beat some of the greatest fighters in the world, but the last couple of years, he has had some odd luck.
In his last five fights, BJ has posted a 2-2-1 record. In that span he had fought at both lightweight, and welterweight.
This fight with Nick Diaz should be an absolute war. Nick always starts with a fast pace, and what is usually a problem for opponents is the fact that Nick doesn't slow down. BJ has had his troubles with cardio when fighting at welterweight, but for this fight he is training heavily is this area.
The mental aspect is where Nick Diaz is strongest, and BJ Penn is weakest. Nick is always able to get into his opponents minds, as he taunts them throughout the fight. Once a fighter get's in BJ's mind, and he starts to wear down, that is when BJ is at his weakest.
Nick's striking is often overlooked, and many say that he has no punching power, even though most of his victories come by way of KO, or TKO.
When it boils down to the fight, you have to match each other up properly.
Cardio- Nick Diaz is a triathlete, and this is his area of strength. No matter how hard a fighter works on cardio, it is rare to see someone with greater than or equal to cardio to Diaz.
Mentality- Once again, this is an area of strength for Diaz. His ability to taunt his opponents and take control of fights is amazing. He throws his arms up, starts saying obscenities and from that moment on, it is his fight.
Striking- This is a hard one to call. Diaz has a weird striking style, but it is very effective. He is very accurate with his punches, which softens his opponents up leading to the kill. BJ is a well-rounded striker. He is great at mixing it up, and once he unleashes, he is extremely dangerous. In this area, both men are fairly even, and on paper it would go to Diaz, but in technicality it goes to Penn.
Wrestling- Many will instantly give this to BJ, but in all actuality this is a head-scratcher. Nick hasn't faced a wrestler in a long time, but when he did it was literally impossible to pin him on the ground. Nick likes to be on his back, so maybe it isn't that his take down defense is weak, but that he wants to go there. That being said, just by what has been seen, BJ has the better wrestling.
BJJ- Both men are wonderful here. To say one is better than the other is not logical. Neither man has ever been submitted, and it would take something freaky for one of these two men to lock up a submission.
Heart- This is where you are tested. This is when a fighter is pushed to his or her limit and is either able to weather the storm or give up. This area is all Diaz. Being 14-1 and 1 NC (the NC was originally a beautiful gogoplata victory), Nick showed his heart and dedication by defeating fighters where they are best at.
His best example was in the Daley fight, where he was rocked and came back to get the finish. Once Penn is in trouble, his track record has shown that he has given up literally. BJ may be one of the all time greats, but his heart has been questioned many times, and a lot of that could have something to do with his cardio when fighting at welterweight.
Who will win?
Expect this fight to start out fast. Both men going for it all. There would be no surprise is BJ went for a take down, but that being said both may respect each other's ground games so much that it could stay on the feet, and see who is truly the better striker. If BJ's cardio isn't 100 percent then Nick Diaz will finish him. Nick will not stop until he gets the job done. If Penn plays it smart and tries to wrestle with Nick, then BJ could pull out the win.
A quick prediction: Fast start with both feeling each other out in the first. Midway through the second, Penn will begin to tire and become frustrated, giving Nick the chance to close in and capitalize, leading to a second round TKO victory.
Nick Diaz, love him or hate him, this weekend will show the world who he really is.