Some might say that Nick Diaz blew his golden opportunity for UFC 137 when he failed to show up to two press conferences and got yanked out of the main event.
In the bigger picture, Diaz came back to the UFC with just as much fire and vigor as he was expected to have, and ended up with a dominant win over a legend in B.J. Penn, in what may be his final fight in the Octagon.
A confident Diaz almost caused his fight with B.J. Penn to happen 24 hours earlier at the weigh-ins when the two fighters butted heads and had to be separated. This was after a week where both Diaz and Penn showed the utmost respect for each other.
Once it was fight time however, neither fighter seemed to be a fan of the other.
Diaz came out aggressive early, but found himself on his back courtesy of a B.J. Penn takedown. Penn was strong and fast in the early part of the fight, controlling Diaz with his boxing and slipping in shots when stuck in the clinch.
In his normal fight mode, Diaz plodded forward and started to throw his signature boxing combinations that apparently know no end. The Stockton, Calif. native blasted away at Penn with combinations that never really slowed down as the Hawaiian started to bleed from his nose and his eye swelled up like a balloon.
Penn never fell, but he certainly wasn’t feeling good after Diaz just blitzed him with punches to the head and body.
The final round saw a more active Penn, who tried his best to fire back in small bursts while it was obvious that his cardio was failing him. Diaz just sat back and waited for Penn to slow and then cracked him time and time again with jabs then unloading the occasional rib shaker body punch.
When the final horn sounded both fighters were bloody, but Diaz held his hands high in victory while a broken and beaten B.J. Penn looked dejected in defeat.
The scores all went in Diaz’s favor and the former Strikeforce champion, who was originally supposed to face UFC champion Georges St-Pierre, didn’t waste any time calling him out after the fight.
“Where you at Georges? Where you at mother (expletive)?,” Diaz screamed.
“I don’t think Georges is hurt, I think he’s scared. I think he’s scared to fight everybody right now. Where you at Georges?”
The cameras at UFC 137 found St-Pierre with a smile on his face and he made a motion as if to mock Diaz that he was actually scared to fight him.
When his attention turned to B.J. Penn, Diaz was very respectful and gave credit to a fighter he said he looked up to and was a fan of for many years before Saturday night.
“B.J.’s the man, I always loved watching him fight,” Diaz said.
The most shocking moment of UFC 137 may have come after Diaz finished talking because as UFC commentator Joe Rogan approached a bloody B.J. Penn, his words were spackled with finality.
“Hats off to Nick Diaz, he’s the man. Joe, this is probably the last time you’re ever going to see me in here. I want to perform at the top level. That’s it,” Penn said.
“I’ve got a daughter, another daughter on the way, I don’t want to go home looking like this. I’m done.”
The heat of the moment may play a part in this, but if Penn’s resolve stays the same he walks away known as one of the greatest and most popular fighters to ever grace the UFC cage.
Nick Diaz meanwhile will likely continue his verbal assault on UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, but he may have to wait for a while to actually confront him in the cage because Carlos Condit will get the next crack at the title in the early part of 2012.