The UFC capped off a week full of major news with perhaps the kicker of them all – the opening opposite B.J. Penn on October 29 has been filled by the very man who played a major role in creating it.
According to UFC President Dana White, Nick Diaz will now fight Penn at UFC 137 instead of welterweight title-holder Georges St. Pierre. Diaz was pulled from the match-up with GSP and replaced by Penn’s original opponent Carlos Condit after failing to show up at two press conferences promoting their main event pairing.
His transgressions drew fire from nearly everyone in the MMA community including White who alluded to an inability to trust Diaz in the future to the Stockton native’s coach/manager Cesar Gracie who called him an “immature child” while making some very pointed remarks to MMAJunkie after news broke Wednesday.
“At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to do with Nick because he’s not only disrespected the sport, he’s disrespected me and himself,” Gracie said. “He’s a great jiu-jitsu guy. He’s a great fighter. I’m saying this because I care deeply about the guy. He’s one of my black belts. But in this situation, he is 100 percent wrong, and he got what he deserved.”
Penn, a former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion, hasn’t fought since a February draw against Jon Fitch but, controversy aside, should serve as a stiff challenge as Penn is not only an equally strong boxer and mat specialist but will come especially motivated based on the circumstances surround their fight.
Other bouts scheduled for UFC 137 include newly anointed featherweight Bart Palaszewski taking on always-tough Tyson Griffin, undefeated heavyweight Matt Mitrione taking on powerful Frenchman Cheick Kongo, and TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson against Mirko Filipovic in what will possibly be the last time “Cro Cop” takes to the ring in a storied career.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC