The chance for Nick Diaz to finally fight for a UFC title against Georges St. Pierre vanished pretty quickly when he missed a couple of press conferences set to promote the UFC 137 event. UFC president Dana White almost cut him from the promotion before deciding to keep him on the card to face BJ Penn in the co-main event. Now with Georges St. Pierre sidelined with an injury, Diaz finds himself back in the main event to face the always dangerous BJ Penn in what could potentially be an opportunity to get that title shot back.
This fight against BJ Penn is a must win fight if Nick Diaz ever wants to get close to a title shot again and here’s why:
Diaz hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2006 where he went (6-4) inside the promotion before leaving to fight for the now defunct PRIDE and EliteXC organizations and then later Strikeforce. Diaz went (11-1) after leaving the UFC and avenged that lone loss as well while becoming the Strikeforce welterweight champion.
Historically, Diaz has always had problems with dominant wrestlers with good submission defense or strong grapplers that were able to take him down and keep top position while he was in the UFC. It should be noted that Diaz didn’t face anyone that had those those type of skills since he left the UFC.
BJ Penn is a lightweight fighting at welterweight and stylistically is probably the easiest matchup for Diaz even though Penn is a better wrestler than Diaz and is quite capable of taking Diaz down. So if Diaz had to face anyone and win to earn a title shot, Penn would probably be his first choice in regards to how they matchup stylistically.
If Diaz is unable to best Penn, he’ll be forced to fight guys that are stylistic nightmares in regards to traveling the road back to a title shot against Georges St. Pierre or whoever the champion is at that time. He would possibly have to fight the likes of Josh Koshcheck, Jon Fitch, Rick Story, Jake Ellenberger, and Diego Sanchez who already holds a victory over Diaz. All of those guys have very good to great wrestling with good submission defense and it would be extremely difficult for Diaz to run that gauntlet without losing one or more fights in my opinion.
So this BJ Penn fight is a must win for Diaz if he wants to stay in the title picture. A loss here probably guarantees that he would not be granted another title shot. as a welterweight. So let’s see if he’ll rise to the occasion on Saturday night.