UFC 137 Predictions: Penn vs. Diaz Odds and Betting Preview
by Scott Johnson - 10/25/2011
With two weeks to go before the event, UFC 137’s welterweight title fight between the champion Georges St-Pierre and challenger Carlos Condit was scrapped after a knee injury derailed St-Pierre. We will have to wait until early 2012 for this fight to materialize, but the contest promoted to main event will be just as entertaining.
Arguably the best welterweight outside of the UFC has finally returned to the promotion at UFC 137. The last man to hold the Strikeforce welterweight title, Nick Diaz (-110), was initially granted a shot at the UFC’s 170-pound champion, but he lost that opportunity when he failed to show up for a pair of pre-fight press conferences. Now Diaz has regained his main event position, and with a win he could once again challenge for the title.
Opposing Diaz will be the former UFC Welterweight and Lightweight champion B.J. Penn (-120). Penn is currently in the midst of a career-defining series of fights. He has been defeated twice by each of the reigning champions in the 155- and 170-pound divisions, and in order to earn another title opportunity he will need to impress the UFC brass with an impressive winning streak.
Both fighters are well-rounded; each is a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt with solid submission numbers. Penn has seven knockouts, including wins over Matt Hughes and Sean Sherk, while Nick Diaz has slightly better numbers with 13 knockouts. Both guys have suffered stoppage defeats, but neither has actually been knocked out. Divergent from their success with finishing opponents, each man has a below .500 record when a fight goes to the scorecards.
Nick will have four-inch advantages in both reach and height, which could play a significant role in the striking exchanges. Diaz’s technique focuses on continually battering his opponent with a barrage of jabs and hooks while staying out of range. He will counter strike, but he is most effective when he pushes forward aggressively and backs his adversary against the cage. When he gets his opponent covering up he changes levels and begins to focus on the body.
Penn has one-punch knockout power, and against Diego Sanchez, B.J.’s counter striking was incredibly effective as he dropped Diego on several occasions. As successful as he was in that fight, however, in the two contests against Frankie Edgar Penn wasn’t able to connect with regularity.
Against Edgar Penn landed only 128 of 430 attempts, which is a 29 percent success rate, a far cry from his overall average of 53 percent. Comparatively, Diaz’s striking accuracy is 10 percent lower than Penn’s, but he also attempts more and, as a result, lands more. To put things in perspective, only once has Penn surpassed the 100 strikes landed mark, while Diaz has done it three times in his last six bouts with a fourth falling just short.
In his fights with Sanchez and Kenny Florian, BJ dictated the pace. However, against Fitch, GSP, and Edgar when the pressure was being put on the prodigy he wasn’t able to respond. Nick Diaz is a talented striker, he has a solid chin, superior cardio, and he will bring pressure from bell to bell and won’t be intimidated by his opponent.
Nick Diaz is a slight underdog in this fight at -110, and I anticipate that as the match gets closer this line will draw even and Diaz will eventually be the favorite by bell time. My prediction is that Nick Diaz will defeat B.J. Penn, so based on this scenario getting Diaz at -110 before it drops would be a good move. If you are inclined to put your money on BJ Penn, and really this fight could go either way, then waiting until fight day could produce a slightly better return on your investment if the line does fluxgate in this manner.
This is easily the most evenly-matched main event in terms of betting odds that we have had in quite some time. Placing a bet on Nick Diaz before the line move will have a nice return. If you are more interested in making a prop bet, consideration could be given to Diaz by TKO. Diaz’s style will push BJ and if Penn fades Diaz is a finisher. BJ has only been stopped twice in his career, so I would anticipate that the payout on this selection will be at least 3-to-1, maybe higher. The reward for a bet of this nature will be greater; consequently the risk will also be increased.
No matter where you lay your money, this will be an exceptionally entertaining fight headlining a card consisting of an evenly matched series of bouts from start to finish. Make sure you check out the rest of the predictions for UFC 137 here at Doc Sports on Friday.
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