As MMA sites start to release updated welterweight rankings following UFC 137, I find myself a bit rankled that people are ranking Nick Diaz ahead of perennial No. 2 Jon Fitch.
I understand that Diaz beat Penn while Fitch went to a draw with Penn, but that's not enough for me.
Call me an eternal skeptic, but when I look at Diaz's win over Penn, I don't see a validating win over a future Hall of Famer. What I saw was a depressing performance by an extremely out-of-shape Penn, who appears to have given up the ghost.
Over the past few days, I've been hearing people say things like, "This is the same man who fought Jon Fitch to a draw, and Nick Diaz beat him down."
The BJ Penn who fought Jon Fitch was in visibly better physical condition than the one who fought Diaz. Neither version of Penn was particularly ripped, but the UFC 137 Penn was definitively pudgier, and it showed in his complete lack in explosiveness after the first round.
Some might argue that Penn tired because of the difference in pace, but I'd disagree. While UFC 137's main event was certainly fought at Nick Diaz pace, Penn's fight against Fitch was pretty grueling as well.
The Penn who fought came out in the second round against Nick Diaz was not a super elite welterweight. Any number of top 10 welterweights would have put that Penn through the woodchipper.
All that said, Fitch arguably deserved a victory over the much more in-shape Penn anyway.
Taking the Penn fight results with a grain of salt, Fitch's record is simply superior.
Fitch has a UFC record of 13-1-1.
He owns victories over solid UFC fighters like Diego Sanchez, Mike Pierce and Paulo Thiago to go along with two victories over former title challenger Thiago Alves.
His only loss in nearly nine years was to St-Pierre.
Compare that to Diaz's record and the differences should be obvious.
Nick Diaz has a UFC record of 7-4.
In his time away from the UFC, Diaz has fought mostly against guys who simply aren't very good.
Paul Daley is Diaz's next best win, and even Daley's then-top 10 ranking was just waiting to be evaporated by the next wrestler to take him down.
I understand that Diaz has improved since his last run in the UFC, but I still haven't seen enough to put him above Fitch.
When Diaz last fought in the UFC, he was getting hustled by wrestlers with cardio like Diego Sanchez.
Luckily, we should know a bit more about Diaz soon enough.
If Diaz still has a vulnerability to wrestlers, Georges St-Pierre is the man best suited to expose it.
Meanwhile, Jon Fitch fights in relative obscurity against tough but faceless wrestlers. He's good enough to beat almost anybody in the division, but he may not be marketable enough to ever face St-Pierre again, no matter who he beats.
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