“Where you at, Georges? Where you at, (expletive)?” he shouted as he paced the cage.
Georges would be UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Diaz, who was originally scheduled to face St-Pierre at UFC 137 before being pulled from the title bout after missing two media events, may get a second chance at the title after an eye-opening unanimous decision over Penn at a sold-out Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.
In his return to UFC after five years with other promotions, Diaz bloodied and bruised a UFC legend in Penn, leaving the Hawaiian with a left eye swollen shut as he contemplates retirement. In the process, Diaz showed why he was considered the No. 1 contender when he rejoined the company — and why he’ll likely be fighting for the title soon against either St-Pierre or Carlos Condit.
After Diaz was pulled, those two were to meet at UFC 137, but St-Pierre had to delay the match due to an injury suffered last week in training.
“I don’t think Georges is hurt. I think he’s scared,” said Diaz (27-7, 1 NC), with St-Pierre sitting cageside.
“Where you at, Georges?”
Diaz and Penn threw leather from start to finish, with a mix of grappling in the first round. Penn looked sharp, firing first in the opening round. From then on, however, Diaz was in control as his superior conditioning, quantity of punches thrown and quality of shots landed simply wore Penn down.
Penn survived to the final horn but clearly was worse for wear. Following the bout, a clearly emotional Penn said he could be done.
“Hats off to Nick Diaz. He’s the man. It’s probably the last time you’re going to see me in here. I can’t perform at the top level,” said Penn (16-8-2).
“I got a daughter, another daughter on the way. I don’t want to go home looking like this.”
In other pay-per-view matches at UFC 137:
• Fireworks were expected but not delivered, as instead Cheick Kongo (27-6-2) won a mostly conservative heavyweight co-main event via unanimous decision over Matt Mitrione (5-1). The judges scored the match 30-27, 30-28 and 29-28.
• A legend of mixed martial arts bid the sport farewell on Saturday, as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (27-10-2, 1 NC) announced his retirement following a slugfest loss to Roy Nelson (17-6) in a heavyweight bout that had the crowd roaring from start to finish.
Both fighters came close to victory in the second round, first when Filipovic clubbed Nelson with left hand after left hand to the chin and body, and then when Nelson crucifixed Filipovic’s arms and landed around three dozen unanswered shots to end the round. The finish finally came at 1:30 of the third round after Nelson dropped him with a right hand and finished him on the mat.
“It was awesome to compete with a legend,” said Nelson, who then made it clear that he’d like to be considered for a title shot. “I want the championship. I’m getting too old for this (expletive). I want to hurry this up.”
Filipovic, who became a superstar with Pride Fighting Championship before coming to UFC, was given a standing ovation as he left the cage.
“This is going to be my farewell fight,” he said.
• Scott Jorgensen (13-4) kept himself in bantamweight title contention, winning a hard-fought — if not always pretty — battle against veteran Jeff Curran (35-14-1). The judges scored the match 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
“I’d love a more exciting fight, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Jorgensen.
• Proudly carrying the flag of his home country, highly touted Japanese star Hatsu Hioki (25-4-2) beat George Roop (12-9-1) via split decision in a featherweight contest. The result was hotly debated, as many fans and critics felt Roop did enough in the first and third rounds to get the win. Hioki, however, was active enough to get the nod as he tries to rebuild the reputation of Japan’s fighters, many of whom have failed in recent forays into UFC.
“Even though we are in a tough situation, Japanese MMA is not bad,” said Hioki. “It’s time for change.
“It feels great to get my first UFC victory, but it was tougher than I expected.”
In preliminary matches at UFC 137:
• Following yet another impressive victory, Donald Cerrone was excited in part because he was looking forward to unveiling his pirate costume at a Halloween party. Something even more exciting — a title shot — could be coming his way soon if he keeps winning in such fine style.
“There were a couple of things I should have done differently, but I’ll work on it,” said Cerrone, always his toughest critic.
“I want to fight one more time this year. Bring it on. I don’t want to wait.”
In a highly anticipated lightweight match, Cerrone (17-3) improved to 4-0 since making his UFC debut in February, choking out Dennis Siver (19-8) at 2:22 of the first round. Cerrone twice nearly knocked out Siver, but after the second instance he saw a submission opening and jumped on it, with Siver tapping out quickly.
• After 48 professional fights and nearly a decade in the game, Bart Palaszewski (35-14) has a UFC victory to his credit.
The veteran won his debut in brilliant fashion, knocking out 3-to-1 favourite Tyson Griffin (15-6) at 2:45 of the first round in a 148-pound catchweight bout. Palaszewski rocked Griffin against the fence and never let up, unleashing a flurry of fists until the bout was stopped.
“Oh my God. It’s a dream come true,” said Palaszewski, who suspected that he might have broken both hands in the match. Not even those potential injuries could bring him down, though. “It’s so worth it.”
“It was an emotional fight for me. It took 10 years to get here and it was a long road. Now that I’m here, I’m here to stay.”
• In a hard-hitting light heavyweight bout, Brandon Vera (12-5, 1 NC) beat Eliot Marshall (11-5) via unanimous decision. Following hot action in the first and third rounds, including nasty leg kicks from Vera in the first and a near-knockout finish from Marshall in the third, all three judges scored the match 29-28.
“I wanted to stay in his face. He also wanted a win badly. It was a must win for both of us,” said Vera. “I wish my performance was better. I was trying to get a knock out, but it wasn’t happening.”
• Ramsey Nijem (6-2) rolled over Danny Downes (8-3) in a lightweight match, throttling him whether they were standing or on the mat in the unanimous decision. The judges scored the match 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27.
“I felt relaxed out there and had a blast,” said Nijem, who was runner-up in Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. “It meant a lot for me to out and compete with top level athletes.”
• Francis Carmont (17-7), a training partner of current UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre in Montreal, made his UFC debut a successful one, dominating Chris Camozzi (15-5) on his way to a unanimous decision in a middleweight match. Two judges scored the bout 30-27, while the third had it 30-26.
“Chris is a tough guy, but this is what I do and I do it well,” said Carmont. “I’m ready for my next fight in a few months. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I love what I do and I’m going to keep on doing it.”
• Clifford Starks (8-0) used his wrestling to grind out a unanimous decision over Dustin Jacoby (6-1) in a middleweight bout. All three judges scored the match 30-27.
“It felt amazing being out there and it was a great way to make my UFC debut,” said Starks. “It definitely brought my confidence up. I was going for the knockout but this was great, too. I’ll take it.”