UFC 137 Fighter of the Night: The Grumpy Nick Diaz

October 31, 2011

Nick Diaz is the real deal, regardless of how critical he is of his UFC 137 performance.

About a year ago, he – and every other high-profile Strikeforce fighter – had a stigma that wouldn’t allow them to be considered top-shelf until they fought to the UFC. Well, Diaz made his trek across the Zuffa pond and put his money where his mouth is.

The 209er tested one of the best fighters the UFC has to offer and beat him up for the majority of a three-round fight.

Not bad for one of those Strikeforce guys.

But while most people say that Diaz looked impressive, he doesn’t agree. In fact, he wasn’t happy with how the fight went down. Tension and miscommuncation during camp didn’t help the situation, which took away from the Stockton fighter’s focus.

Finding suitable training partners became more a thorn in the side for Diaz. He wanted Olympic-level boxers like Andre Ward to come help out with preparation for Penn, but that didn’t come to be.

Alas, Diaz didn’t get what he wanted in camp and could do nothing but hope for the best at UFC 137.

“I’m not happy with my performance at all,” he said during the post-fight press conference. “I wasn’t 100 percent today. I felt good, but… leading up to this fight I went through a lot of… hard times.”

Part of those hard times was dealing with the fact that he was fighting someone he is personally familiar with. Diaz isn’t a fan of fighting his teammates, and that apparently extends out to people he is somewhat close with outside of his gym.

B.J. Penn, despite looking like Diaz’s worst enemy at the weigh-ins, wasn’t someone he wanted to see in his Octagon return at all. It’s not a good feeling to see someone in the hallway and not exchange pleasantries due to having to fight them, according to the former Strikeforce welterweight champ.

That sense of disconnection from an acquaintance like Penn demotivated Diaz for the fight. It might be a business, but that doesn’t appear to translate well for a natural fighter like Diaz.

“I don’t want to fight people I already know,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what fighting is all about. So, I didn’t want this fight… It wasn’t motivating for me.”

He should be motivated now. Because of what he did at UFC 137, Diaz is leapfrogging Carlos Condit and getting the next UFC title shot against Georges St-Pierre during Super Bowl weekend. If there were any arguments against him getting the title shot before, there shouldn’t be now; he earned it.

Because he beat the odds by putting down an all-time great, and threw a big chunk of a Strikeforce stigma out the window, Nick Diaz is the UFC 137 Fighter of the Night.

Honorable Mention: Donald Cerrone is the best lightweight not vying for a title

At UFC 137, Donald Cerrone put a hurting on Dennis Siver in what a lot of people expected to be a heavily contested kickboxing match. Well, it was indeed a kickboxing match, it just wasn’t heavily contested.

Siver had an obvious disadvantage with the height and reach. Cerrone did what he wanted with the smaller fighter and quickly stunned him in the first minute of the fight.

It’s like Cerrone knew he was better than him going into the fight – actually, that’s exactly how it was.

“I wasn’t impressed with his striking,” Cerrone said following the win. “I wanted to show what real kickboxing looks like, so I was glad to go out there and be technical.”

For Cerrone, getting as many fights as possible is taking priority over lobbying for title shots. Whether it be at lightweight or one weight class lower at featherweight, he just wants to get in there and scrap.

Another fight in December seems really appealing, according to “Cowboy,” and it doesn’t have to be for a championship. He’s not one to hang out while fights are on the table. “I want to keep fighting,” he said. “I don’t want to sit and wait.”

Worth a Mention: Retirement Party

Mirko “Cro Cop” made it clear that this was his last fight in the UFC and end of his storied career. After losing to Roy Nelson, he stayed true to that statement and bid farewell to the MMA faithful.

Then in comes B.J. Penn and says last night was “probably the last time you’re going to see me in here.”

Break out the gold watches because UFC 137 was a retirement party.

While “Cro Cop’s” bon voyage seems a little more solid, it’s tough to say if Penn will truly call it a career after Saturday night. Perhaps he was caught up in the emotion of the moment, but there seems to be a lot more fights – both at welterweight and lightweight – that Penn can fight in the UFC.

At the same time, if Penn really calls it quits, he’ll still go down as one of the best ever to compete in the sport. Both he and “Cro Cop” did more than just fight; they helped bring mixed martial arts up to the level that it’s at now.

Thanks for all the epic moments, gentlemen.

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