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UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Predictions

A last-minute training injury to Georges St. Pierre cut the knees out from under UFC 137, another weird twist in a chaotic card. Nick Diaz was originally to get a welterweight title shot at the event, but the social anxiety disorder he disguises as "not giving a fuck" took that opportunity away. Turns out he might not have had the chance anyway, as new #1 contender Carlos Condit finds himself off the card and on the shelf until GSP's wheel returns to prime Terminator shape.

In the meantime, the makeshift co-main now becomes the makeshift main. BJ Penn (Condit's original opponent before Diaz blew it) headlines his first card since UFC 118 last summer against Diaz. It's a meeting of two guys who tend to talk a big game and then back it up. We'll see which tough talker can take advantage of this unexpected showcase.

B.J. Penn v. Nick Diaz

Matt: This is sort of a win-win because I get to watch both of these guys get punched in the face and nobody gets a title (or even a guaranteed title shot) at the end of it. With GSP and Condit on the backburner for a few months, this one is probably The Battle To Fight Jon Fitch In The Co-Main Event Of A February Show. I am hot and cold on Penn as a person, but feel like he would be intolerable to have a conversation with. Meanwhile, I can't look at Nick Diaz for more than 10 seconds without wishing he would catch on fire. In the cage, Penn has only been beaten by elite wrestlers with exceptional motors since 2006. Diaz is primarily a boxer and he doesn't push the pace the way GSP or Frankie Edgar do, so it will be interesting to see how he handles a quicker and more agile fighter. I'll bet that missing the press conference that got him kicked from the original main event was the last time Diaz sniffs title contention in the welterweight division. WINNER: Penn by unanimous decision

Bruce: Obviously not the fight originally advertised, GSP's removal comes at a good time for Penn.  He needs a decisive win and he should get it here to put some of the shine back on Prodigiousness. WINNER:  Penn by submission in 2nd

Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione

Matt: I have this false impression of Cheick Kongo as the worst fighter in the heavyweight decision. Now I KNOW that's wrong as long as Joey Beltran is under contract, but can you name a strong Kongo performance without using Wikipedia? His best win was a three-round decision over Cro Cop that was so soft they use it in nurseries to sooth newborns. He's the most intimidating bore in the UFC, and he'd have one foot out the door if not for his stunning come-from-behind knockout over Pat Barry (another Worst Heavyweight contender) earlier this year. Mitrione hits as hard as Barry but doesn't have the same problems (being short, getting KTFO'd easily). It's the biggest fight of his career to date and I think he makes the leap. WINNER: Mitrione via unanimous decision

Bruce: Mitrione was the heel on the Heavyweights season of TUF.  He laid in the bushes and got his shots in.  Since then he's gone 5-0 in the UFC.  I think it will be 6-0 after this one.  Kongo has become one of UFC's tomato cans.  All the elements are in place for a Mitrione win. WINNER:  Mitrione via TKO in 1st

Mirko Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson

Matt: Cro Cop was another recipient of a giftwrapped win from Pat Berry that prolonged his career. He's coming off a pair of knockout losses and may have reached that Chuck Liddell Threshhold, where a guy whose jaw used to be cut from marble can now get rocked by a strong breeze. Nelson's biggest weakness in his last fight was his cardio. Everyone else blamed his weight. He blamed the flu. Either way, he's not going to need great cardio in this fight. WINNER: Nelson via KO in 1st

Bruce: Cro Cop v. Big Country.  Both men come in with two consecutive losses.  We all know the rule...3 and you are out.  I think the UFC is ready to be rid of the rapidly declining Cro Cop.  Of course, I'm sure being shed of the Kimbo-Killer wouldn't hurt Dana White's feelings either. WINNER:  Nelson via TKO in 2nd

Jorgensen v. Curran

Matt: Jorgensen was a top contender at bantamweight before dropping a five-round decision to champ Dominick Cruz...which is what happens to every bantamweight contender who fights Cruz. I am guessing he's still in "top contender" form.  Meanwhile, Curran is a guy who hasn't been seen since the WEC. He was always praised as being an experienced, smart and all-around nice fighter. People usually said these things about him while he was getting his ass kicked. WINNER: Jorgensen via submission in 2nd

Bruce: I'm not sure which way to go on this one.  So, like my dad taught me, go with your first instinct. WINNER:  Curran via split decision

Hatsu Hioki v. George Roop

Matt: Hioki is ranked as a top three featherweight, he has lost only once since 2007 and this is his UFC debut. He might be in line for a shot at Jose Aldo if he wins. Roop is a guy who never looked that good on The Ultimate Fighter but has stuck around time and time again by beating guys he wasn't supposed to beat. Few Japanese stars have managed the transition to the Octagon well. That plus Roop's persistence is enough for me to go bold and pick the upset. WINNER: Roop by split decision

Bruce: Hioki's skill set is more well rounded.  This one looks like his to lose.  I don't think he will. WINNER:  Hioki via submission in 3rd

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