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MMA Link Club: The even steven UFC 137 bout between BJ Penn & Nick Diaz

By Zach Arnold | October 28, 2011

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Over/under on the UFC 137 PPV buy rate: 375,000. Give me your prediction.

I went back-and-forth on setting this line. I actually think 375,000 is a respectable number and here’s why:

1) This is an even, competitive fight in the minds of fans. The difference, of course, between an even fight like Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard and BJ Penn/Nick Diaz is that one fight can draw due to the personalities & fight styles while the other one cannot. Nick Diaz has a hardcore following now that’s almost as loyal as the following Fedor had. Penn is the big-name veteran who people really like (except when he’s fighting GSP).

2) A lot of people are interested in betting on the fight. From the minute this fight was announced, there was respectable action and a lot of it was in favor of Diaz. There’s still a lot of pro-Diaz sentiment out there despite the fact that Penn has more paths to victory in a three-round fight. As we warned, the money was heading towards Diaz until fight week. This week, the veteran bettors and media writers have been betting on Penn and his price is now from -115 to -140 (and could go higher).

3) Potential for an emotional meltdown from Nick Diaz. This is the same guy who got into a fracas in Nashville on CBS and had Gus Johnson acting the way Gus Johnson does. You never know what to expect. He’s always blaming someone else for his problems in life and always has a chip on his shoulder about, well, everything. I definitely think that there’s just as big of an audience that wants to see the guy implode against Penn as there is an audience of hardcore Diaz backers who think he can do no wrong.

Throw it all together… and I expect a very eventful main event. The chances that the fight ends up sucking? Under 20%. I’m bullish on this fight delivering the goods.

One weird item, though — there’s a report claiming that Nick Diaz passed his pre-fight drug test. Wait, why are we hearing this news now about him when we never hear anything about pre-fight drug test results of other fighters? By the way, Mr. Kizer, same-day drug testing would be more effective at catching doping.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out MMA Payout’s Blue Book on business stats, you should go out of your way to do so. Great resource.

We don’t have an article link for MMA content on NBC Sports this week because NBC did not post any new MMA articles within the last week.

Member sites of the MMA Link Club

This week’s MMA Link Club featured stories

Five Ounces of Pain: BJ Penn focused on winning fights, nothing else

He seems very, very relaxed this week during his media interviews. Very confident. He clearly thinks Cesar Gracie is nuts.

MMA Fighting (Mike Chiappetta): Mirko Cro Cop says Saturday could be his last fight in the UFC

Prediction — it won’t. UFC Japan will end up being his last fight. Dentsu is going to want to see him there. Then again, given his past history with agent Ken Imai and how things fell apart in Japan, who knows if he wants to touch down there again. UFC Japan will now be a PPV show. As we noted in the last link club, Shu Hirata claims that Dentsu, Japan’s second largest ad agency, bought a sold show from the UFC. So, for UFC it’s an easy way to run a vanity show without losing much cash. Dentsu has plenty of experience with PRIDE & K-1. The only reason they would buy a show is if they thought they could pitch it onto a broadcast network. However, the political climate isn’t that favorable to them. I still think they will have to settle with a TV Tokyo deal, which is not that impactful.

I still think the odds are too lop-sided in favor of Roy Nelson for this fight. 75% is an awfully high number given how Nelson looked against Frank Mir. Yes, Roy’s had a good training camp and Mir has been helping out, but for a non-Top 10 heavyweight to get that much love?

Cage Potato: ESPN’s MMA Live host Jon Anik joins UFC broadcast team

This is a very intriguing story and a sign that Fox is going to have some power in their dealings with Zuffa. What this sets up is a scenario that is all too common with fans of other sports that Fox covers — announcer anger.

Take baseball for instance. If you put the SF Giants combination of Duane Kuiper & Mike Krukow on the World Series, you would have a hell of a call. Same deal if you inserted Marty Brennaman as the man. However, Fox has put Joe Buck and Tim McCarver on World Series telecasts forever and it drives baseball fans nuts. Same deal with the football coverage where you get Buck & Troy Aikman as the “A-Team” despite Fox having better commentators (merit-wise) doing lesser-watched games (e.g. Ron Pitts).

Do I think Jon Anik will embarrass himself on the UFC broadcasts? No. He’s a professional. He’s polished. He studies and does his job. There’s nothing outlandish about him. However, what his strength is also happens to be his weakness. He definitely fits the bill of a ‘network broadcaster’ in that he often can be anti-septic while being respectable at the same time. I personally have no problems with him at all doing MMA telecasts like he did with Bellator on ESPN Deportes. However, I suspect he’s going to catch a lot of hell from fans who think he’s not in Mike Goldberg’s league. I will say this in favor of Jon — he definitely will bring a different feel to the announce table.

I congratulate Jon for finding his golden parachute in getting out of what was a dead-end situation with ESPN & MMA Live and taking the gig with Fox/Zuffa. Just like Bjorn Rebney found his parachute with Viacom, Jon Anik found his landing spot. Good for him. With that said, the legacy of MMA Live is a show that had lots of potential and just didn’t go anywhere. It came off as a broadcast with no emotion or impact. Luke Thomas often talked about how the show could be so much more than what it ended up being. That is not a knock against the hosts who were involved in the show. I like Jon Anik, I really like Pat Miletich’s analysis, and I always think Kenny Florian is a pro on camera. However, the format always felt flat and unorganic. It’s too bad.

MMA Mania: Roy Nelson 2.0 — ‘I’d have to cut my leg off to make Light Heavyweight’

That picture of him and Forrest Griffin is just so ridiculous and freaky. That beard…

5th Round: UFC Undisputed 3 welterweight roster released

What’s your gut feeling on how this game will turn out?

Bleacher Report: Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn head-to-toe breakdown

Actually a very good look at the fight and how it likely will play out.

Middle Easy: The not-so-unreasonable $25 UFC 137 bet that will put $12,631.70 in your pocket

Always count on the crew at ME to bring it. Check out their parlay slip from BetUS. I’d swap out Diaz in favor of Penn, but it largely looks like a somewhat respectable play. I am still baffled at how high the odds are in favor of Hatsu Hioki (-340 to -400) given the history of Japanese fighters in the UFC. Don’t get me wrong, I respect him greatly as a fighter but recent history isn’t on his side here. The Tyson Griffin line is getting out of hand as well. He’s gone from -280 to well over -320 this week. While he is a nice parlay throw-in, by no means can you say it’s a lock that he’ll win. It has nothing to do with his skill set but everything to do with what we saw in San Diego when he lost to Takanori Gomi.

Low Kick: BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz open workout photos for UFC 137 heat-up

Scott Hirano delivers the goods here. Check it out and support his efforts.

The Fight Nerd: UFC 137 betting guide

I have absolutely no clue why the author says that Kongo is a -160 favorite against Matt Mitrione. He’s not. Matt has been the slight favorite throughout. If Kongo fights smart and doesn’t do anything stupid like he did against Pat Barry, I definitely think he has the talent to win here.

As I’m reading through the rest of the odds on that guide, I have no clue where the author got his odds. They are all off the mark.

MMA Convert: Ben Askren vs. Jay Hieron — get ready for the man blanket!

While everyone is focused on Penn & Diaz on PPV, Ben Askren will get to show off the new tricks he’s learned since training with Duke Roufus in Milwaukee. He’s going to be a big cornerstone for Bellator when they head to Spike TV. Wonder if he’ll keep yapping about how his goal is the UFC now that Bellator’s going to have some cash to throw around?

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “MMA Link Club: The even steven UFC 137 bout between BJ Penn & Nick Diaz”

  1. Fluyid says:

    Fightnews.com:

    With early pay-per-view numbers counted and confirmed, Floyd Mayweather’s recent fight against Victor Ortiz generated buys from 1.25 million homes with a value of $78,440,000 in pay-per-view revenue. These numbers make the event the second highest grossing non-heavyweight pay-per-view event of all time. Mayweather has now appeared in the three biggest non-heavyweight pay-per-view events in the sport’s history, including Mayweather vs. Oscar de la Hoya ($136,853,700), Mayweather vs. Ortiz ($78,440,000 million) and Mayweather vs. Sugar Shane Mosley ($78,330,000 million).

    “My motto is ‘hard work and dedication’ and I have shown this throughout my entire career, which has allowed me to go out and perform each time I step in the ring,” said Mayweather. “I give the fans everything I have with the best competition and exciting fights. I must be doing something right as they keep buying my fights and I appreciate their tremendous support. It feels good to be able to generate such a great interest in the sport.”

  2. EJ says:

    If Bellator thinks that Askren is going to be there cornerstone then they better fix his fight against Hieron, because he’s getting knocked out or tapped out.

    There was a reason why Nick Diaz was ducking him and while Jay didn’t exactly wow in the tournaments last 2 fights. He won which is all that matters and all he’s been doing since he left the UFC. He’s the best WW outside of Zuffa by far and he’s going to dominate Askren who’s become so overated by beating nobodies that it’s baffling to me.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    Anik to the UFC has nothing to do with FOX in my opinion. It’s a number of shows issue.

    Now we will have Rogan and Goldberg for PPV and FOX. And Anik and I bet the guy from the WEC for TUF and Fight Nights. It resembles HBO boxing.

  4. Alan Conceicao says:

    I’ve liked Penn since day 1 in this fight. I know people want Diaz to win, but this is a whole different level of competition. I think it was a stupid fight for the UFC to do, but they have a huge hard on for Condit to get a title shot for reasons I simply don’t understand. I guess they want fans to see GSP lay on someone else for 25 minutes?

    Mitrione has never been a great wrestler and that’s Kongo’s weakness, so….Kongo by KO. Could be a sloppy, bad heavyweight fight like Kongo/Herring.

    Nelson/Crocop is WHO CARES material for me. Big Country wins, crowd goes catatonic.

    I’ll take Hioki over Roop and Jorgenson over Curran. I think Siver is deeply undervalued here in spite of me thinking he’s not that great and Griffin should be an easy winner. The rest is totally irrelevant fluff. Wouldn’t waste my time watching it ever.

  5. david m says:

    Dana should have made Condit fight someone else. This is ridiculous. We have another 3 round main event. Fail. There is literally 1 fight on this card I am interested in. I am very interested in it, but it isn’t the same as having 2 top level fights. Koscheck vs Condit would have been great; Dana should have offered Carlos a lot more money and set up the fight. There are plenty of challengers at 170; I don’t know why anyone thinks Condit is more qualified to beat GSP than AJ is or Ellenberger or Diaz is. No matter what would have happened in a Condit-Koscheck fight, GSP would have had his next fight against someone other than Koscheck.

    They could have done GSP vs AJ and winner of Condit v Kos vs winner of BJ v Diaz. Either way, GSP would get new challenges and this card wouldn’t suck.

    • david m says:

      If Condit thought that Dana was serious when he promised him a title shot, he is out of his mind. Diaz just battered and retired a fucking legend; I don’t see how there is any way he won’t be the nex to fight GSP; that is the only fight the fans want to see. Nobody cares about Carlos Condit, he has the charisma of a table. Diaz is going to whoop GSP’s ass.

      Also, as a fan I want to say FU Condit. Dana claimed that he himself veto’d Koscheck’s offer to fight Condit, but that is a load of crap. Obviously Condit turned down the fight. Does anyone think Nick Diaz would have turned down a changed opponent a week before? Of course not. Regardless, Condit’s lack of desire to get exposed by Koscheck has made Diaz the only choice to fight GSP. Nobody will ever be coming into a fight with more hype and buildup than Nick Diaz coming off of this win.

      There are 15 family members of Condit and about 500 Diaz-haters online who want to see Carlos get the title shot; every other fight fan on God’s green Earth would prefer to watch Diaz.

  6. Light23 says:

    I got money on BJ at -111 and -120. Hopefully this is another case of an average-good UFC fighter leaving, looking sensational against substandard competition, and then coming back to an ass whooping.

  7. Nepal says:

    Yup, Diaz vs. GSP is a big money fight… and that is what it’s all about. Forget this “sport” thing.

    I still think GSP will smash Diaz. Diaz looked good against a gassed fighter but GSP won’t gas, has a speed advantage and can actually strike if he is brave enough (rarely). If Penn can take Diaz down, GSP can do it. GSP’s power will control Diaz on the ground. He is too fast to get suckered by the Diaz “hands in the air, so I can counter you schtick”.

    I am nauseated by GSP’s lastest performances, especially his thing vs Sheilds but I still don’t think Diaz has a chance.

    BTW, remember Diaz having to take Sakarai down because he was getting beaten on the feet??? Diaz’s striking has improved a lot but I doubt it will be effective vs. GSP.

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