UFC 137: 5 Reasons To Watch

Nick Diaz (photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Nick Diaz, BJ Penn and others make up for a missing GSP

I know a ton of people who have changed their plans for tonight based on the fact that Georges St-Pierre is no longer defending the UFC welterweight title against Carlos Condit at UFC 137.

Trust me, I’ve been working overtime trying to convince them that they’re making a horrible mistake. Whatever Halloween party you’re going to instead is going to be awful, because Halloween parties almost always are.

Do you know what isn’t going to be awful? UFC 137, that’s what.

Here’s five reasons you should be watching tonight’s event.

1. Nick Diaz, Part One: The Entertainment Value

There is a reason so much attention has been paid to the former Strikeforce welterweight champion over the last two months, and it’s because he has the potential to be a special talent.

When you strip away all the missed media outings and the “I’m a real fighter” stuff, there is no denying that Diaz is a phenomenal fighter. No matter what he does before the bout, he always delivers when the cage door closes.

As much as I think he’s been beating up sub-par competition over the last couple years, I haven’t missed one of his fights. They’re always entertaining, and this one should be no different.

2. Nick Diaz, Part Two: The Litmus Test

How can you not want to see how Diaz measures up against a legitimate challenger like BJ Penn?

His critics — myself included — have been waiting for this day for the last couple years, while his supporters should be waiting with baited breath to see if their charge can get through “The Prodigy” and show there is legitimacy to his claim as a top five welterweight.

Penn has the skills to put Diaz in trouble if he lets it all hang out like he has in the past, so it will be interesting to see if Diaz tempers his aggressiveness and willingness to take one to give three against the heavy-handed Hawaiian.

3. Matt Mitrione vs. Cheick Kongo

Listen — this is the most real deal heavyweight fight we’ve had since UFC 131, and I mean that with all due respect to every big boy who has stepped into the cage between then and now.

Kongo somehow managed to survive against Pat Barry long enough to blast him with a two-piece and leave him catatonic on the canvas. He is the absolute toughest test to date for the unbeaten Mitrione.

Conversely, TUF 10’s oddball has transformed himself into a mixed martial artist, and a pretty solid one at that. Mitrione has proven power, tremendous athleticism and is far more cerebral than anyone gives him credit for in the cage.

This is going to be an explosive contest, one that could produce the Knockout of the Year. You don’t want to miss that, do you?

4. Introducing Hatsu Hioki

Hioki, the guy on the main card you’ve probably never heard of before, is the #2-ranked featherweight in the world. An impressive win here will probably put him opposite Jose Aldo in a battle for the 145-pound title next.

The Japanese star holds wins over a number of very talented featherweights, including a pair of victories over Mark Hominick and one over fellow UFC 137 main card competitor Jeff Curran. He’s won four straight since losing a questionable split-decision to Michihiro Omigawa, and 12-1-1 over his last 14 fights.

Facing George Roop will be a test, simply because his length is hard to deal with, but Hioki is the real deal. It would be smart to familiarize yourself with him now.

5. Bantamweights Will Impress

It took a couple different injuries, but Jeff Curran and Scott Jorgensen have made their way to the main card, and they will impress you.

I spoke with Jorgensen before this fight was moved up, and he’s out to prove that this is where he belongs every time he fights. It’s hard to argue with his track record, or that of the rest of the division really. The bantamweights — and lighter weight classes in general — always deliver exciting fights.

This one will be no different.

With Jorgensen out to make the most of his main card opportunity, and Curran looking to capitalize on his return to fighting for Zuffa after two years away, you can bet these two 135-pound combatants are going to leave it all in the cage.

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