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UFC 137 live blog: Nick Diaz successfully picks apart B.J. Penn in octagon return

Donald Cerrone and Bart Palaszewski finish off preliminary card with first round stoppages

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Sam Morris

Nick Diaz declares, “I won that fight,” after the third round of his bout against B.J. Penn at UFC 137 Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Diaz won a unanimous decision.

Updated Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 | 8:49 p.m.

UFC 137 - Diaz vs. Penn

Nick Diaz hits B.J. Penn with a right during their bout at UFC 137 on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Diaz won by unanimous decision, and Penn announced his retirement after the fight. Launch slideshow »

UFC 137 - Nelson vs. Cro Cop

Roy Nelson rubs his belly after defeating Mirko Launch slideshow »

UFC 137 Weigh-In

B.J. Penn, left, and Nick Diaz bump heads while facing off during the weigh in Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 for UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

Dana White fireside chat part one

Dana White fireside chat part two

Those concerns about the quality of competition Nick Diaz faced in Strikeforce vanished Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

In his return to the UFC after a five-year roaming period, Diaz dismantled one of the promotion's most famous former champions, B.J. Penn, into possible retirement. Diaz boxed Penn to his demise in the two final rounds to take a unanimous decision. The judges scored it 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27.

"He's the man," Penn said in his post-fight octagon interview."I think it's the last time you see me in here. I want to compete at the top level. That's it."

"I've got a daughter. I don't want to go home looking like this."

Penn's right eye was black and nearly swollen shut after the beating Diaz administered. As with most of Penn's bouts, he came out sharp and won the first round.

Although Diaz was never in trouble, Penn out-boxed him and took his back in the opening five minutes. But Diaz's conditioning was on another level and he made Penn pay for the next 10 minutes. Diaz peppered Penn with jabs and hooks. He looked to be on the verge of a knockout multiple times, a method Penn has only lost by twice in his illustrious two-time championship career.

Penn's announcement of a possible retirement sent a wave of nostalgia after the fight. Diaz's remarks had a more mixed reaction, as he called out welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and yelled his name.

St. Pierre was supposed to fight Carlos Condit at UFC 137, but dropped out last week with an MCL sprain.

"I don't think Georges is hurt," Diaz said. "I think he's scared to fight."

Scroll below for results from all 11 fights and check back to lasvegassun.com for full coverage later.

Note: Scroll to the bottom for full results from the preliminary card.

B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz

Third Round Penn is a warrior and comes out right at Diaz, but he's not out of trouble. He seems so tired that his takedown attempts don't have any effect. The jab is there for Diaz to use whenever he wants. Diaz has now dropped his hands and is just picking apart "The Prodigy". He's stalking Penn around the cage and feeding him punches wherever they go. Penn is still alive at the 2-minute mark and his heart has the crowd roaring. But Diaz is winning this round as easily as the last. Penn cringes when Diaz hits him with four straight body shots against the fence. It's more of the same with 1:30 left, but Penn no longer looks like he's in trouble of being stopped. Penn has a nasty black eye, courtesy of Diaz's constant attack. But Penn won't quit. He's answering Diaz blow for blow with a minute left. The crowd is at its loudest of the night. Diaz takes control again with 30 seconds to go. Penn has nothing left. Diaz throws a couple kicks as time expires and follows it with punches. Diaz wins the final round and takes a 29-28 on the Las Vegas Sun's scorecard. Diaz wins a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) over Penn.

Second Round Penn weakly jabs Diaz a few times. It annoys the Stockton, Calif. native and he swats the next attempt away. Diaz has Penn against the wall for about a minute until they break. Both these guys can box and they're showing it. Penn shoots for a takedown, but Diaz sprawls to stay up. He gets Penn's head and throws some knees to it. Overhand right working for Diaz as the round nears its halfway point. Penn is taking a lot of punishment and not answering for it. Diaz is working the body, which seems to be exhausting Penn. They clinch up and Diaz inflicts more damage with knees and shots to the side. Penn is in trouble against the cage as Diaz is hooking and jabbing him to death. Penn retreats, but he'll be lucky to make it out of this round. Penn is countering a little, as evidenced by Diaz's swollen face, but he's exhausted. Diaz, who trains in triathlons, is fresh as can be. Diaz throws another straight right as the bell rings. Diaz gave an absolute beating there, but it's only a 10-9. Even going to the third, but Penn might be on the way to getting finished.

First Round Anticipation is over after the two don't touch gloves and the referee has to work hard to keep them to keep their distance at the beginning of the fight. Penn goes to the body early and they lock up. Diaz throws a few knees to Penn's stomach. Penn is working his jab, but Diaz lands a commanding combination. Diaz is coming with his right hook from a weird angle and Penn can't stop it twice in a row. They go to the ground and after some rolling, Penn gets Diaz's back. He's throwing shots to his head from behind. Diaz is trying to pry Penn's arm away, but it's not working. He changes course and starts throwing punches from the bottom. Loud chants have gone for both men. They're back to their feet with two minutes to go. Diaz is controlling Penn along the fence. Penn throws an elbow and they break out. Penn's boxing is more crisp in the early going. H connects with an uppercut to the chin of Diaz. The hook is still working for Diaz, but he hasn't had a lot of chances to work it. Diaz drops his hands and taunts Penn like he always did in his Strikeforce days. Bell rings and Penn wins the first, 10-9.

Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione

Third Round Kongo is fresh and attacking as the round begins. Kongo works his jab a little and puts Mitrione in retreat mode. Kongo picks up against Mitrione near the fence and tosses him to the ground. It's the defining moment in a fight that's otherwise been mediocre. Mitrione works his way to his feet, but Kongo has his back. Kongo pushes Mitrione up against the fence. Chants of "Meathead" start around the arena with three minutes to go. Mitrione is cut beneath his left eye and Kongo takes him down again. Mitrione has 2:15 to get up and finish Kongo, or else, this decision is going the other way. He can't. Kongo is all over him with a minute to go. Kongo is throwing just enough elbows so that the referee doesn't stand the fight up. Kongo is looking for a choke that isn't there, but gives up. Mitrione covers his head with Kongo on his back, but that's all he can do. The veteran wipes out the newcomer on this scorecard. Kongo wins 30-27. Kongo wins a unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 29-28).

Second Round They are letting loose some in the second round. Mitrione takes some leg strikes, but lands a nice straight right to Kongo's face. Mitrione's lead leg is becoming red as Kongo continues to attack it with his kicks. The first minute of the round features more action than the entire first round. Leg kicks are flying from both fighters. Kongo works a couple combinations, but Mitrione counters the later one. Mitrione is now the one moving forward. But Kongo is still landing more strikes. Mitrione is light on his feet, but tentative and that seems to be costing him in the biggest test of his career. Mitrone lands arguably the biggest punch of the fight with a left hook, but Kongo seems fine. Kongo works his own combination at the center of the cage near the minute mark. Mitrione ends the round with a few shots. Tough to score, but Kongo probably edged Mitrione again. Kongo takes it 10-9 and now leads 20-18 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard.

First Round Mitrione has his hands down early. He's bouncing around and maybe trying to bait Kongo so he can counter. It's not working, as Kongo won't engage. A lot of dancing through the first minute. Mitrione gets restless and comes in, but Kongo slips away. There has literally not been one strike to land through two minutes. It's like a contest to see who will break fist and engage. Finally, at 2:54, they exchange hands. Kongo locks up and pushes Mitrione against cage. They are both throwing knees, but they aren't landing anywhere of consequence. Referee Herb Dean breaks them apart with 1:50 left. Mitrione is getting out of the way of Kongo's strikes and comes forward with his own. Awkward fight, as both men appear to be taunting each other a little. Kongo lands a leg kick with Mitrione staying outside. Kongo gets another one, but Mitrione catches it and throws the veteran to the ground. Kongo hits Mitrione with a couple strikes and hurts him a little. Kongo wins a forgettable first round, 10-9.

Roy Nelson vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

Third Round The crowd gives both fighters a huge ovation. It's hard not to wonder what they have left after 10 high-intensity minutes. But Nelson doesn't look to be gassing as much as his last fight, a UFC 130 defeat to Frank Mir. Nelson catches Cro Cop with a right and then follows it with another. Cro Cop is a little wobbly. He falls down after Nelson throws another combination. "Big Country" now has Cro Cop's back and is pounding his head. The referee jumps in to stop the fight for a defenseless Cro Cop. Nelson wins via third round TKO at 1:30.

Second Round Nelson rocks Cro Cop with a right early. He hits the ground, but bounces up and has his way with Nelson. In the most action of the night, Cro Cop swings away and looks to be on the verge of a finish. Nelson is covering up, but escapes back to the middle of the octagon. His face is streaking with blood. The two are tired from the back-and-forth, but the feeling of tension is overtaking the arena. Cro Cop goes for his famous head kick. It's partially blocked by Nelson, but the crowd goes wild. Nelson lands a hook and Cro Cop clinches up. They are against the fence with two minutes to go with Nelson in position. He takes down Cro Cop and transitions to side control. He briefly looks for an armbar, but Cro Cop's defense is strong. After the early stirking, this is now a grappling match. Nelson gets Cro Cop in trouble when an arm gets loose and rains down ground-and-pound strikes. Cro Cop barely survives to the horn and this place is electric. Nelson wins round two, 10-9.

First Round Nelson is noticeably trimmer — probably somewhere in the low 240s. He's also moving more swiftly on his feet early. Not much action a minute in, but Nelson has landed a couple punches. He takes Cro Cop down, but doesn't have control of his arms and can't administer much offense. When he does get his hands back, Cro Cop blocks almost all of his punches and elbows. Cro Cop throws an up kick that goes to Nelson's chin and they are back on the feet. Cro Cop blasts Nelson with a kick to the face. But Nelson lands a big hook about 20 seconds later. There's not a lot of action, but there's been big shots when they throw. Cro Cop hits Nelson with an uppercut. It looks like Nelson's face is swelling a bit and the crowd chants "Cro Cop". Nelson comes forward, but looks tired. Cro Cop is out-kickboxing him probably enough to steal the round. Cro Cop goes up 10-9 after the first round on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard.

Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran

Third Round Jorgensen is jabbing. Curran is countering. Neither is doing much to score points. Curran starts throwing his hands wildly, probably sensing he's down two rounds to none and needs to knock out the former No. 1 contender. Problem is Joregensen is unfazed. He's getting out of the way of Curran's telegraphed haymakers and uppercuts. When Curran works his jab, he finds success. But he's going to need more than that here. Jorgensen's jab is also working and now Curran's nose is bloodied. Curran wipes it a couple times, which is a bad idea because it leaves him open for more shots. Jorgensen pushes Curran up against the cage and throws a few knees. They break out with 1:20 remaining. Curran's corner is yelling that he's got to go win. He seems to know that and is back to throwing big punches. Jorgensen looks fresh and not hurt at all. Curran shoots in for a takedown, but Jorgensen sprawls and gets on top. Curran's nose is really bleeding now. Horn blows and Jorgensen shuts out Curran to win 30-27 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard. Scott Jorgensen wins a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Second Round Jorgensen opens up on the feet a little bit, but Curran is still landing the cleaner strikes. Curran shoots in for a takedown, but Jorgensen catches him and locks up his head easily. Jorgensen throws up some knees. They aren't doing much damage, but definitely scoring points. Jorgensen uses the position to throw Curran to the ground, who gets back up after a half minute or so. Curran hits Jorgensen in the body and goes to the ground with a choke. It makes for a tense moment, but Jorgensen easily slips out. They are back in the middle of the octagon and Jorgensen throws Curran into the fence after he hits him with a jab. Jorgensen takes down Curran again, which is a recurring theme in this fight. Jorgensen lands a few more ground strikes and looks for an armbar that isn't there. The round ends with Curran working his way out to take the dominant position. Jorgensen wins another round to go up 20-18.

First Round Curran comes forward and works the body before going up top and throwing his left hook. He's jabbing a lot, but Jorgensen's quickness helps get away. Jorgensen gets Curran on the ground, but isn't mounting a lot of offense. That didn't seem to matter in the first pay-per-view fight of the night to the judges, so Jorgensen has probably pulled ahead in the round. Jorgensen is playing it safe and only throwing short punches, so Curran has no room to threaten with a submission. But he also can't get up. Curran fights his way to his feet with a minute to go — momentarily. Jorgensen dumps an off-balance Curran right back to the mat, but referee Kim Winslow stands them up with 34 seconds remaining. Curran is out-striking Jorgensen, who converts a single-leg takedown after feeling uncomfortable on the feet. Jorgensen wins a lackluster first round 10-9.

Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop

Third Round Roop is still raring to go and throws Hioki on the ground to start the round. He locks in a choke, but doesn't get far with it. Roop is mixing up his attack early, shooting in for a couple takedown attempts in addition to throwing punches. One takedown works, but Hioki is right back up. He pushes a frustrated Roop against the fence and more wrestling is in store. Roop switches positions and goes for knees to the thighs and foot stomps. He's the more aggressive fighter. That's probably been the case for the whole bout, but definitely in this round. Referee Josh Rosenthal breaks the two up with two minutes to go. A cut appears to have opened on Roop's face, but it's hard to imagine how it happened. It's dripping blood onto Hioki as Roop takes him down. Hioki works for a few chokes from the bottom, but Roop maneuvers out of it. Hioki has Roop's arms, but Roop picks him up and slams him to the tarp a couple times. Roop wins the third 10-9, but Hioki takes the fight 29-28 on the Las Vegas Sun scorecard. Hatsu Hioki wins a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) on the judges' scorecards.

Second Round They keep their distance for the first minute and plays out much like the first round. Roop is landing a few more strikes, mixing his kicks with punches. One particular foot to the face gets a crowd reaction, but it didn't do much damage. They tie up and Hioki tosses Roop to the ground. The heralded Japanese fighter transitions to side control and is smothering the much lengthier Roop. Hioki is in full mount midway through the round and the only offense Roop can muster is a few soft elbows to the stomach. Roop is trying his best to get up, but Hioki is stronger than he looks. With 30 seconds to go, the crowd is getting restless but Hioki is doing what he needs to do. Roop fights his way up and hits Hioki with a leg kick. Roop looks angry and chases Hioki down for a few strikes. It was an exciting finish, but not enough to steal the round. Hioki wins another stanza and goes ahead 20-18.

First Round Roop is moving forward early and both fighters have grazed each other with high kicks. Roop catches Hioki with a right hand and knocks him back a bit. Roop's punches are connecting regularly and Hioki is having a tough time negotiating the distance. They break after a Roop kick lands below the belt. Upon the re-start, they exchange and Hioki seems to have gotten the better of this one. It's a close round with a lot of back-and-forth until Hioki presses Roop up against the fence. Roop switches positions and foot stomps Hioki. Both have thrown knees, but neither Roop nor Hioki is landing them with any purpose. Hioki tries to take Roop's back while standing, but abandons the plan when he can only get one hook in. Hioki takes Roop down instead and immediately gets into side control with a minute remaining. Roop fights his way to his feet and they end the round tied up. Hioki takes the first round 10-9 on Las Vegas Sun's scorecard.

Pre-main card

Nick Diaz never wanted the notoriety.

He never wanted the fame. He never wanted the attention.

The act of trying to escape it, ironically, may have resulted in Diaz becoming a bigger star than he ever thought was possible. After intrigue swirled around Diaz missing two press conferences to announce UFC 137 earlier this fall, his profile boosted substantially.

To add even more irony, UFC President Dana White said the reason for pulling Diaz from a bout with Georges St. Pierre was because the former Strikeforce welterweight champion couldn’t handle the pressure of the main event.

Diaz is now the UFC’s saving grace, as he meets B.J. Penn in a much-anticipated main event tonight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center after all. The pay-per-view card is minutes away from starting.

Diaz slid into the spot after St. Pierre suffered a sprained MCL a little more than a week ago.

While pay-per-view sales are expected to plummet without St. Pierre’s presence, Diaz and Penn aren’t a bad second option. Penn was already popular as the UFC’s long-time lightweight champion and Diaz seems to be catching him.

The event sold out in less than two hours because of St. Pierre, but surprisingly, White said the UFC hadn’t received any complaints about getting ticket refunds.

Plenty of notables occupy the main card in addition to Diaz and Penn. Fan favorite and Las Vegas native Roy Nelson meets legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in a heavyweight bout that should feature a lot of slugging.

It’s the first of two matchups in the UFC's biggest weight class. In the co-main event, undefeated “The Ultimate Fighter” 10 alum Matt Mitrione tries to beat mixed martial arts veteran Cheick Kongo.

Mitrione has super-athleticism for a heavyweight, but Kongo has been around almost a decade longer than “Meathead”.

A top bantamweight and a top featherweight will kick off the pay-per-view main card here shortly. Japanese 145-pounder Hatsu Hioki makes his UFC debut against gritty striker George Roop.

They’ll warm the cage for Scott Jorgensen, who less than a year ago challenged world champion Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight strap. Jorgensen meets Jeff Curran in his main card debut in the UFC.

An exciting preliminary card just culminated and the fans are riled up as the videos play on the big screens here. Check below for full results from the undercard and stay tuned for round-by-round coverage of the main card.

Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone choked out Dennis Siver at 2:22 of the first round in their lightweight bout. The submission finish was somewhat misleading, however, as Cerrone got into the position by dropping Siver with his hands for the second time in the short fight.

Click to enlarge photo

Bart Palaszewski celebrates after knocking out Tyson Griffin in the first round of their UFC 137 preliminary fight. Palaszewski, who was making his UFC debut, went off as a 3-to-1 underdog in the bout.

Bart Palaszewski delivered a major upset of Tyson Griffin in their catchweight (148 pounds) fight. It was contested at that class because Griffin didn't make weight. Palaszewski wailed away on Griffin, whose back was against the cage, before dropping him with a right hook. Palaszewski officialy beat Griffin via first round knockout at 2:45.

Brandon Vera eked out a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) win over Eliot Marshall. After winning an uneventful two rounds, Vera nearly met his demise in the third. Marshall dropped him with a combination early and locked in a kimura that he nearly pulled off late.

Ramsey Nijem won a unanimous decision — the scores were 30-27, 30-26, 30-25 — over Danny Downes in a lightweight contest. "The Ultimate Fighter" 13 runner-up turned the fight into a grappling match by repeatedly taking Downes to the ground and working an arsenal of close-call submissions.

Georges St. Pierre cornered middleweight training partner Francis Carmont, who scored a decisive unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) victory over Chris Camozzi. Carmont nearly finished the fight in the second round by dropping with Camozzi with a right hand after already slamming him to the ground.

Clifford Starks out-wrestled Dustin Jacoby en route to a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in their middleweight bout that opened the card. Starks, a former Arizona State wrestler, took down Jacoby, a former Quincy University quarterback, in each round.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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