UFC 137 has had its changes, but one thing remains intact—a great night of fights featuring a main event between two of the sport's most exciting fighters in B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz.
Both are former champions and promise to deliver a quality fight, which recently replaced the original main event between Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit.
Other pay-per-view bouts include Hatsu Hioki vs.George Roop, Matt Mitrione vs. Cheick Kongo, Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson and Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran.
Spike TV bouts begin at 8 p.m. ET and will feature a lightweight bout between Dennis Siver and Donald Cerrone, as well as a featherweight matchup with Tyson Griffin and Bart Palaszewski.
Preliminary bouts can be watched on Facebook. They include Dustin Jacoby vs. Clifford Starks, Chris Camozzi vs. Francis Carmont, Ramsey Nijem vs. Danny Downes and Brandon Vera vs. Eliot Marshall.
These are predictions for every fight.
Jacoby and Starks ended up facing each other by replacing other fighters. Both make their UFC debuts and bring undefeated records to the Octagon. There isn't much footage available of either guy so this makes it a pick'em kind of fight.
Starks has trained with Cain Velasquez while both were attending Arizona State University, and that is the one standout detail about him.
Jacoby does enjoy a six-inch height advantage, but I'm picking Starks to take the fight to the mat where that advantage doesn't help, at least when it comes to the stand up.
Prediction: Clifford Starks win via TKO in Round 2
Camozzi (15-4) returns to the UFC with a 2-1 record inside the Octagon with victories over Dongi Yang and James Hammortree.
He will take on French fighter Francis Carmont (16-7), who trains with UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
This fight isn't bound to go the distance if Carmont is to be victorious, and his record shows that. He hasn't been to the scorecards since a 2006 bout with Robert Jocz and has fought nine times since then.
He is also moving to the middleweight division for this bout so cardio may be an issue if Camozzi can drag this into deep waters. This will be a close one if it goes there with Carmont almost finishing off his opponent on several occasions throughout the first round and finally getting to him in the second.
Prediction: Francis Carmont wins by Submission in Round 2
Betting Odds: Danny Downes +155; Nijem -185
"Danny Boy" Downes (8-2) made his UFC debut earlier this year but lost a tough unanimous decision to Jeremy Stephens over three rounds.
The Roufusport fighter will look to rebound when he takes on Ramsey Nijem (4-2), who was knocked out by Tony Ferguson in the first round of the last Ultimate Fighter Finale.
Even in defeat, Downes showed a lot of heart in surviving a three-round barrage of strikes from a powerful puncher like Stephens. His confidence has to be high knowing he was able to stay in there with one of the best, and he should come into the bout with a lot of motivation to get back on the winning track.
Prediction: Danny Downes by Unanimous Decision
With both of their careers on the line for this bout, there is one of two things we can expect from Brandon Vera (11-5) and Eliot Marshall (10-3).
Either they will go out there and look to prove a point, or they will tentatively fight just to win and not lose. The latter is the most likely.
Vera is on a tough stretch of fights, losing to Randy Couture, Jon Jones and Thiago Silva. His loss to Silva was later overturned after Silva tested positive in the post-fight drug test.
Marshall was last seen getting stopped in one round by a very-determined Luiz "Banha" Cane.
If Vera comes out like Cane did in his fight with Marshall, there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to stop the former Ultimate Fighter. It might take a round or two, but Vera will finally open up late in the fight and stop Marshall.
Prediction: Brandon Vera by third-round TKO
Former lightweight Tyson Griffin (15-5) recently broke a three-fight losing streak when he beat Manvel Gamburyan by majority-decision in June. It was his featherweight debut.
He gets another tough opponent in the form of Bart Palaszewski, who has only been stopped four times despite having 14 losses on his record.
Palaszewski makes his UFC debut after almost a year away from the sport. His last fight was a split-decision defeat to Kamal Shalorus at WEC 53. A four fight win streak preceded, including a controversial win over Anthony Pettis.
This fight is going to take place everywhere, and it's going to be another closely contested bout between two of the division's toughest fighters.
The judges will favor Griffin, who will apply a similar gameplan to his last fight versus Gamburyan, to win a decision after three rounds.
Prediction: Tyson Griffin wins by Split-Decision
Betting Odds: Donald Cerrone -275; Dennis Siver +215
In an anticipated lightweight bout that will determine a top contender in the division, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (16-3-1) will face German fighter Dennis Siver (19-7).
Both are on win-streaks, and it's Siver who has had the tougher competition of the two in those bouts. Four of his last five fights have gone the distance with him winning some very close decisions.
Cerrone came out in his last fight to prove a point, and did so by getting the first TKO victory of his career when he stopped Charles Oliveira in the first round.
With the right gameplan and the help of trainer Greg Jackson, Cerrone will be able to get past a frantic first round to take Siver down in the second and work for a submission, which he should eventually get.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone by Submission (Armbar) in Round 2
Betting Odds: Hatsu Hioki -350; George Roop +250
This featherweight fight might be a showcase bout for Hatsu Hioki (24-4) , but George Roop is nobody to sleep on. He recently upset Josh Grispi (12-7) to get a TKO victory in the third round of their bout. It wasn't too long ago that Grispi was being considered the next title challenger for UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Hioki brings an extensive 24-4 record into his Octagon debut, and this includes victories over Marlon Sandro, Ronnie Mann, Jeff Curran and two wins over former title challenger Mark Hominick.
Aside from holding a victory over Grispi, Roop also has a highlight reel headkick KO over the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung.
It is going to take that type of out-of-nowhere finish for Roop to get the victory, and it's tough to see it happening against Hioki, who many consider to be a top five featherweight.
Prediction: Hatsu Hioki by submission (triangle choke) in Round 2
Betting Odds: Scott Jorgensen -450; Jeff Curran +325
Scott Jorgensen (12-4) will make his second appearance in the UFC when he faces Jeff Curran (33-13), who actually has fought in the UFC before, but all the way back at UFC 46 when he lost a decision to Matt Serra.
Jorgensen is one of the top bantamweights in the division, and his only loss since 2009 has come against current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. He holds wins over Brad Pickett, Ken Stone and Takeya Mizugaki.
Curran isn't short on experience, and that may actually help him in this bout. Jorgensen is a wrestling-oriented fighter, and while that will play into how this bout enfolds, it might not be as exciting as he would like it to be.
Curran will be able to offer up offense of his own, but Jorgensen will have more, and it will come from top position while on the ground. Judges favor the guy on top, and Jorgensen will win a hard-fought decision.
Prediction: Scott Jorgensen by Unanimous Decision
Betting Odds: Mirko Filipovic +190; Roy Nelson -240
In a bout where both fighters need a victory no matter what, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (27-9) takes on Roy Nelson (15-6), and both are currently riding two-fight losing streaks.
This might come down to who has the better chin, and fans don't have to look any further than both fighters' last couple fights to know who does.
Nelson survived a stand-up assault from both Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir. Cro Cop was stopped by both, including a follow-up knockout loss to Brendan Schaub. Nelson arguably has one of the best chins in the UFC while Cro Cop might have one of the worst.
Aside from not having a great chin, Cro Cop doesn't even seem to want to fight anymore. With his recent comments, it seems like this will be his last bout, win or lose.
Prediction: Roy Nelson by KO in Round 2
Betting Odds: Matt Mitrione -150; Cheick Kongo +120
Kongo will make his first appearance in the cage since having the comeback of his life in a fight with Pat Barry from earlier this year to take on Mitrione.
At 5-0, Mitrione is vastly inexperienced in comparison to Kongo, and it should show in the fight. While Mitrione has shown considerable improvement over his five UFC fights, his competition level hasn't been as high as Kongo's.
At 33, it's hard to see Mitrione making gigantic leaps in the division, but his inexperience does account for something, and that's seeing him improve every time he fights. His stand up has looked better and better in his last couple fights, but it's the takedowns and clinch against the cage that will be the key to Kongo's success in this fight.
Kongo will probably engage in a fight that doesn't showcase the stand-up skills of each fighter, and that makes for a letdown of a fight from what people are expecting, but one he can win without having to take the type of punishment he did in his last fight.
Prediction: Cheick Kongo by Unanimous Decision
*Photo Credit Scott Hirano
Betting Odds: B.J. Penn -125; Nick Diaz -105
In a battle of two of the most fearless fighters, former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn (16-7-2) takes on former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (25-7).
After being pulled out of his title fight versus Georges St. Pierre, Diaz got a fight with Penn, and it gives MMA fans a very fun fight that should be very interesting to watch.
Penn is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport, and this is where the problem will come into play for Diaz, who likes to engage his opponents where they are strongest. Wherever Diaz chooses to take this fight, he is going to be challenged, and he won't have any way out of it if he finds himself in trouble.
Both like to box and rarely strike with anything other than their hands. This is where most of this fight is likely to play out, and it's going to come down to whose skin holds up better to the punches. Both have the chins to withstand each other's power, but Diaz's skin cuts easy, and Penn should be able to bust him up even if the exchanges are relatively equal.
Even if it goes to the scorecards, judges will favor the less-damaged Penn.
Prediction: BJ Penn by TKO (Cut Stoppage) in Round 3