Whether it’s just fight hype, a PR move, or trying to bait BJ Penn into a lengthier fight, playing on his history as being criticized for lacking cardio, Nick Diaz coach Cesar Gracie has been very vocal about baiting Penn into a five-round main event for UFC 137.
The two were plugged into the headliner slot on Tuesday when it came to light that UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre had to bow out due to a knee injury.
UFC president Dana White, in announcing the promotion of the Penn vs. Diaz fight via his official Twitter account, added that the bout was a three-rounder and would remain such even with its elevation to main event status.
Even though the UFC has moved to a policy that all main event bouts would be five rounds, even if they are non-title affairs, White has also been hesitant to reclassify a bout as five rounds if both fighters were originally contracted for a three-round bout.
That hasn’t kept Gracie from asking for Penn vs. Diaz to get the five-round treatment.
“There’s no contractual obligation for anyone to do five rounds at this point. They both signed bout agreements for three rounds, and there’s no way they could make it happen, but we’ve already agreed to it, and if B.J.’s camp agrees to it, I think it would be great for the fans,” Gracie told MMAWeekly.com on Tuesday.
Diaz, when asked if he wanted to go five rounds, told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday, “It’s whatever. It’s not really up to me. Either way, it’s fine by me.”
For his part, Penn is more than willing to accept the offer to make the bout five rounds. His only hesitation is that fighting is a business, and as such, he would want a discussion about compensation before the bout is reclassified.
“I want to be compensated accordingly and that’s it. I’m more than willing to do a five-round fight,” Penn told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday. “If Dana wants a five-round fight, just give me a call and we can put it together right now.
“Or if Cesar wants to make it a five-round fight and he wants to compensate me personally, he can put his money where his mouth is, it’s that easy. I’ve been training to fight. I’m ready to fight.”