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UFC 137 Rewind

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In his return to the Octagon for the first time in nearly five years, Nick Diaz stole the show and captured a unanimous-decision win over B.J. Penn in the main event of UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Not only did Diaz win, but he also sent the legendary Hawaiian fighter into retirement, called out welterweight champion Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre and then got Dana White to change his mind about giving Carlos ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Condit a shot at GSP’s belt.

Diaz was originally scheduled to face St. Pierre on Saturday but after missing back-to-back press conferences to promote the card, White yanked Diaz from the event and replaced him with Condit. Diaz was then given the fight against Penn and that showdown was moved up to the main event when GSP pulled out of his fight with Condit due to a knee injury.

With the exception of Penn’s second fight against GSP, nobody has battered the former champion like Diaz did. After putting on a stand-up clinic, Diaz called out the 170-pound kingpin.

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“I don’t think Georges was hurt,” Diaz said. “I think he was scared.”

St. Pierre, sitting ringside when Diaz made his remarks to Joe Rogan, immediately approached White and insisted on facing Diaz next. Condit agreed to step aside, but what choice did he have?

Whatever the case, it appears that GSP and Diaz will collide on Super Bowl Weekend in Vegas. As for Condit, he’ll likely be on the same card against a welterweight contender like Jake Ellenberger.

Judges gave Diaz the decision over Penn by scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27. The former Strikeforce welterweight champ hooked up his backers as an even-money underdog at most books.

In the co-main event, Cheick Kongo beat previously-unbeaten Matt Mitrione in a snoozer that led the crowd to lustily ‘boo’ both heavyweights. Kongo won a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-28 and 29-28) as a plus-120 underdog.

The expected slugfest never materialized as both fighters were tentative in the first round. It was much of the same in the second and Kongo dominated Mitrione from the top position on the ground through much of the final stanza.

Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson sent the legendary Mirko Cro Cop into retirement with a third-round knockout as a minus-280 ‘chalk.’ Nelson had previously lost back-to-back fights to Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, so the victory prevented him from possibly being cut by the promotion.

Like his last fight against Brendan Schaub, Cro Cop had his moments. He busted up Nelson face with a flurry of punches in the second round. However, the former PRIDE champion didn’t have the stamina to finish off Nelson.

Early in the third round, Nelson was able to floor Cro Cop with a vicious combination. Nelson then finished the job with big shots on the ground, prompting referee Steve Mazzagatti to halt the bout at the 1:31 mark.

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone won his sixth straight fight and became the first UFC fighter to win four times in 2011, as he choked out Dennis Siver in another spectacular performance. Cerrone, who is a serious candidate for Fighter of the Year honors, says he wants to fight again in December.

Cerrone took control early in the first round thanks to a head kick that rocked Siver. A minute or so later, a big right hand from Cerrone knocked Siver silly and he then took the German kickboxer’s back and executed a rear-naked choke at the 2:22 mark of the opening round.

Cerrone cashed tickets as a minus-230 favorite. The loss ended Siver’s four-fight winning streak.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Penn and Diaz won Fight of the Night honors and the accompanying $75,000 bonuses. Don’t be surprised if the classic bout is also a candidate for Fight of the Year accolades.

--Cerrone won Submission of the Night in his win over Siver, while Bart Palaszewski took KO of the Night honors with his first-round finish of Tyson Griffin.

--Brandon Vera won for the first time since UFC 102 when he won a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Eliot Marshall, who broke Vera’s arm with an armbar attempt late in the third round. Vera clearly won the first two rounds but Marshall hurt him with several excellent strikes midway through the final stanza. However, Vera refused to tap on the armbar and came away with a crucial victory after a 0-2-1 slump.

--The rematch between Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva and Chael Sonnen isn’t a done deal yet, but that hasn’t stopped BetOnFighting.com from posting odds for the potential showdown. The website has Silva as a minus-240 favorite with Sonnen listed as a plus-190 underdog.

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

  
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