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UFC 137: Nick Diaz Sends BJ Penn Into Retirement…AVILA

David A. Avila

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diaz_pennUFC137_v4LAS VEGAS-Maybe friends can fight each other.

Nick Diaz proved what a good boxer with sound knowledge of mixed martial arts can do in battering former lightweight and welterweight world champion BJ Penn in winning by unanimous decision on Saturday.

It was no contest.

A brave and stubborn-hearted Penn (16-8-2) announced his retirement soon after the decision was read, giving Diaz (27-7) a win by unanimous decision after three rounds at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. UFC 137 didn’t feature a world title fight but the main event was a stunner.

After a good start that saw Penn score with a take down and some good blows in round one, it was all Diaz from there on. Even UFC president Dana White couldn’t bear to look.

Diaz escaped from a triangle choke and once on his feet he battered the smaller Penn in round two viciously with combinations up and down his body. There was a moment when it appeared Diaz wanted the referee to halt the fight. Penn looked stunned and unable to defend himself, but the fight continued.

In the third round Diaz continued the assault with brutal combinations to the body and head as Penn looked for cover. He attempted to take down Diaz but his legs lacked the quickness from sustaining so much punishment in the earlier round. But he summoned up energy to fight off Diaz’s left-handed blows with some good right counters to the chin. It only slowed Diaz but enabled the Hawaiian to stay in the fight.

Diaz never showed any sympathy in this fight and Penn didn’t look for any.

“It feels good to be back fighting,” said Diaz. “In the second round I turned it on and  tried to take him out.”

The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28, and 29-27 for Diaz.

“Hats off to Nick Diaz, he’s the man,” said Penn who absorbed more blows than usual. “It’s probably the last time I fight at this level. I don’t want to go home looking like this.”

Diaz also commended Penn for his fortitude, but offered a different opinion on UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre who was sitting in the audience and pulled out due to injury.

“I don’t think George is hurt. He’s scared,” Diaz said.

The crowd booed loudly.

Other bouts

Heavyweight Cheick Kongo (27-6-2) of France used his experience to win by unanimous decision and hand Matt Mitrione (5-1) his first professional loss after three rounds. The fight began slow and ended with Kongo finally forcing Indiana’s Mitrione to the ground where he scored with a deliberate ground and pound. It wasn’t much and the fans were displeased.

Roy “Big Country” Nelson (17-6) out-slugged MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (21-10) to win by knockout at 3:00 of round three. Though Cro Cop lost the fans truly appreciated the effort he gave and the potential danger he presents for any opponent at any second. Nelson survived a bad round two after taking 20 blows from Cro Cop, but the Croatian spent his load on the effort and was unable to contend with Nelson’s attacks. A big right hand by Nelson and ground and pound attack ended the night for Cro Cop. “It was awesome to compete with a legend,” said Nelson. “I want the championship next.”

Japan’s Hatsu Hioki (30-4-2) out-maneuvered Arizona’s George Roop (12-9) in a three round featherweight fight to win by split decision. Most of the fighting took place along the cage or on the ground. Two judges liked Hioki’s take downs and gave him the edge. “He was stronger than I thought,” said Hatsu.

A showdown between two strong lightweights ended in victory for Colorado’s Don Cerrone (17-3) over Russia’s Dennis Siver (19-8). Two Cerrone left kicks to the jaw resulted in a take down and rear naked choke at 2:22 of round one. It was expected to be a much closer fight but Cerrone showed complexity in his kick selection that resulted in the win.

Bart Palaszewski (36-14) delivered a one-punch knockout over Tyson Griffin (15-6) in a lightweight bout at 2:45 of round one. After stunning Griffin, a swarm of punches followed ending with a right to the jaw. “They told me don’t stop if you hurt him,” said Palaszewski.

Veteran Brandon Vera (12-5) won a surprising unanimous decision over Colorado’s Eliot Marshall (11-5) after three rounds of a light heavyweight clash. Despite walking out with his arm in a makeshift sling, suffering take downs in two rounds and going down from a right uppercut, Vera convinced the judges he was the winner 29-28 on all three cards.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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