After five years in the wilderness, Nick Diaz is finally returning to the Octagon tonight, at UFC 137 in Las Vegas. (As expected, Diaz is much, much less excited about this than we are.) His opponent is BJ Penn, a living legend and former two-division UFC champion whose future in the sport very much depends on his performance tonight.
Also on the card: Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo fight for a spot in the heavyweight title mix, Mirko Cro Cop and Some Fat Guy fight to save their jobs, and top ten featherweight Hatsu Hioki puts the reputation of Japan on his back.
Round-by-round results from the “Penn vs. Diaz” pay-per-view card will be piling up after the jump starting at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, courtesy of CagePotato liveblog assassin Matt Kaplan. Refresh the page every few minutes for the latest updates; as with our last UFC PPV liveblog, we’ll be including “next page” links to reduce spoilage, so click ‘em as the night goes on. Thanks for being here, and let us know how you feel in the comments section.
Mk here, proud to add “assassin” to my assembly of liveblog monikers, along with “mercenary,” “jackhammer,” and “Shemp Howard.” You guys spoil me.
Some preliminary thoughts: BJ Penn and Nick Diaz are two of my top five favorite fighters, of all time, so I’m at a bit of a crossroads as far as rooting interest is concerned…I kinda hope Matt “Meathead” Mitrione wins so I can marvel at how awkward the cadence of his speech always is during the post-fight interview…Would Roy “Big Country” Nelson be a middleweight if he were in shape? A welterweight possibly?
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop:
Rd 1: Pink gloves for referee Josh Rosenthal. I dig it. Hioki opens the action with a high kick, but Roop tags him with a right hands just seconds later. Roop’s hands are smooth and his early combos look good, but he hasn’t done any real damage yet. Woops. Roop kicks Hioki low, so the Japanese fighter is resting his marbles. Back to the fight. Good left hand from Hioki. Hioki presses Roop against the cage after exchanging a few shots with Roop. Roop and Hioki exchange knees to the thighs and foot stomps. They’re still tied up against the fence, and the crowd doesn’t seem to love it. Hioki is working hard for the takedown. Roop turns Hioki and has his back on the cage now. Nice takedown by Hioki, who falls into side control. After a brief scramble, Hioki is in Roop’s guard, but Roop pops back up. Hioki elbows Roop against the fence, but Roop breaks free and charges ahead in the final seconds of the round.
Rd 2: Roop opens with a nice punch combo, punctuated with a head kick. Hioki eats a body punch and another head kick from Roop and stays in the pocket. Big takedown by Hioki, who gets mount and passes slickly to side control. Real nice transition there. Hioki wants the Americana, it seems, but winds up back in full mount. Roop is being pinned down and cannot buck Hioki off of him. Hioki has control of Roop’s long legs with butterfly hooks, but isn’t going for a sub or ground strikes. Roop explodes up! Big punches and kicks after a nasty upkick to end the round. Too little too late, though.
Rd. 3: Immediate takedown by Roop, but Hioki is back up instantly. Roop throws a flying knee and barely misses. Hioki shoots, but Roop sprawls. Hioki has Roop against the fence with the same body lock from Rd. 1, but Roop defends well and puts Hioki’s back against the fence. Roop lands some punches, stomps some toes from the clinch. Hioki is controlling Roop’s left arm, but loses it. Referee Rosenthal separates them. Roop scores the quick takedown and is in Hioki’s guard. Hioki works the rubber guard and takes some punches from Roop. Hioki answers with elbows from his back, but Roop keeps pounding to the final bell. Good fight.
Winner: Hatsu Hioki by split decision. (Here come the boos…)