UFC 137 (Oct. 29) could simply be called "UFC 137: SlugFest' as hands will be thrown by some of the sports best strikers. Matt Mitrione, Mirko Cro Cop, Denis Siver and our new main eventers Bj Penn and Nick Diaz will be slugging all sorts of 'bombs' in their pivotal welterweight clash.
Now if you take the aforementioned fighters and tally their KO/TKO wins in a total, you would end up with 49. The lead offender being 'right leg; hospital, left leg;cemetery" himself Mirko Cro Cop. In Matt Mitrione's short five fight professional career he has 4.
This brings me to my next conclusion that UFC 137 will go down as one of the most exciting shows this year even without Carlos Condit vs. Georges St. Pierre. Two of the most dynamic personalities at welterweight and mixed martial arts alone will bring enough fireworks for the 'Sin City' audience.
In this article i will attempt to breakdown the good, the bad and ugly of each striker as they prepare to do what Lorenzo Fertitta loves WAR
Take a number as the striking clinic opens with the boxing coaching behind BJ Penn
We have all been to the bar when you hear some uneducated and disrespectful fan call the ground game 'gay' or some other homophobic slur to degrade it. Then you or I will look at him asking 'why not watch boxing?" then five seconds later we missed an omoplata.
It's ironically funny that everyone in the world cannot seem to wait for two of the best Jui Jitsu players to slug it out for a chance to inch closer to fighting the eventual winner of Carlos Condit and UFC welterweight champion GSP. At one time neither Nick Diaz or BJ Penn were regarded as strikers but mere ground wizards. Both grew up loving to fight and that tenacity they brought to fight is what proved the difference in most occasions.
If you haven't read MMAmania's own Sergio Hernandez piece on Nick Diaz striking display at UFC 47 then please click here See Diaz and Penn are much more alike then on paper. Both highly decorated Gracie students ho learned their submission craft like 'prodigies'. It's also no wonder why each were able to learn the art of striking for MMA just as smoothly. They both have also learned the art of using striking for submissions and how to fight guys who feared taking them down.
Let's go the 808 of Hawaii where a pudgy soft spoken warrior reigns king.
At age 32, BJ Penn has fought in almost every notable weight class and his range of opponents come guys as small as UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar to former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. He has accomplished what only Randy Couture was able to do; win a UFC title in two different weight classes. His hall of fame status is a near shoe in but like his brethren from California, he too is a crazy renegade. He didn't always bow down to Dana White. He even called the title belt an 'accessory' in his book's title which means he just wants to fight.
Now like most fighters-you are a product of your coaching. Many fighter's emulate what their coach taught them as you learn how your taught. BJ Penn's BJJ coach was Ralph Gracie under the guidance of his father at a young age.
BJ Penn's main boxing coach when his striking began to become much more fluid was Jason Parillo. Parillo was 8-0 as a professional fighter and has worked with the likes of Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz. Parillo is recognized for refining the 'basics' and hooked up with Penn before the Jens Pulver fight at The Ultimate Finale season 5.
Parillo as a boxer himself described his style as 'nasty' and it fits Penn's motto of 'Just Scrap'. Parillo wanted to unleash a nasty side of baby j which not seen in years past. As you have seen for yourself this was best seen at UFC 84 when Penn defended his UFC lightweight strap in a destruction of former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk.
Before getting associated with Parillo, Penn was always considered a solid boxer in MMA. The years with Parillo have now made Penn recognized by many as the best boxer in MMA besides Frankie Edgar.. Parillo has taught Penn how to use the jab as not a mere set up punch but a devastating punch in itself. He has also involved fluid combinations. Instead of just blasting straight lefts and rights, he has added dangerous hooks and uppercuts from weird angles.
Penn's footwork has also greatly improved as he no longer stays flat food but has learned to use a nice pivot when comes in. His lateral movement also allows him to find those angles that i mentioned above. He has been able to use this footwork to confuse timing on shoots by wrestlers the likes of Jon Fitch and Sean Sherk.
BJ Penn's boxing is highlighted when he broke George St.Pierre's nose with an uppercut in their first tilt at UFC 58, The plastering of Sean Sherk with crisp jabs at UFC 84 and counter punched Diego Sanchez at UFC 107 to the point where a coroner couldn't even identify the 'Nightmare'.
The most famous punching that Penn has unleashed in the Octagon has to be as recent as UFC 129 when he faced his long-time rival Matt Hughes in their finale of their trilogy. It was fireworks as Penn utilized a slip and hook to send Matt Hughes out cold to put a poetic stamp on that rivalry.
If you've seen a Penn fight you will know that he isn't using a lot of trickery in his strikes. He doesn't throw spinning back fists, flying knees and moves that leave you vulnerable. He keeps it clean and crisp and that is what fustrates people. Parillo has given his knowledge to Tito Ortiz and even though Ortiz's striking isn't amazing in comparison to other it has gotten more refined and heck didn't he outbox Ryan Bader at UFC 132?.
Penn has also trained with one of boxing's premiere trainers in Floyd Mayweather Sr prior to his bout with Jon Fitch. Penn who's lack of changing camps from his home base. He has trained with everyone from former rival Matt Hughes to UFC 137 opponent Nick Diaz.
The best tools one could possibly gain from training with the man who taught Pretty Boy' is defensive boxing. If you watch any telecast of Floyd Mayweather Jr. you will see how truly untouchable he is. He rarely takes an ounce of damage yet dishes an ass whooping on his opponent with accumulative damage. Now the time spent with Floyd Sr. was sparse but i expect the quick learning Penn will have taken a lot in a short span.
BJ Penn has always been revered by his peers for his boxing but one famous boxing trainer took it even further. Manny Paquiao's trainer Freddie Roach called BJ Penn the best striker in mixed martial arts. Penn and Roach have done some training in years past. It's a bold statement as Roach has worked with some of the most appreciated strikers in MMA like UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
Penn has worked with two of the best boxing trainers in the world and has grown under a relative unknown in Jason Parillo. Penn is a natural and not only in grappling but aswell in striking. With no formal background in wrestling he also held his own against Jon Fitch and Georges St. Pierre. He was dominant at 155 pounds and as an undersized 170 pound fighter he has also done great. His ability to work with guys we haven't really heard of and guys we hear about alot is a testament to his respect. You can gain great skills from non-world champions and world champions alike. Penn may have an ego and seem cocky but he has taken his talents to train with some of the best even if staying in Hawaii is what suits him.
(Heres a short clip of BJ Penn working with Jason Parillo. Notice how fluid his shoulders and hips sway with the hooks. If you remember his fight with Caol Uno he was a lot more stiff in his weight. Relaxing allows you to breathe much more effectively so you don't gas and you explode through with power)
Next time we dive into the men behind the striking of Nick Diaz