Published Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 | 7:26 p.m.
The switch at the top of the upcoming UFC 137 fight card could have resulted in two more intriguing bouts than the ones originally scheduled.
Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, for one, is more concerned with new opponent Carlos Condit than originally scheduled challenger Nick Diaz.
“If Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz were to fight, I would put my money on Carlos Condit,” St. Pierre said. “For me, it’s an even bigger challenge.”
Diaz (25-7 MMA, 6-4 UFC) now faces B.J. Penn (16-7-2 MMA, 12-6-2 UFC) in the co-main event before St. Pierre and Condit battle in the headlining match of the card on Oct. 29, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
It was a move White didn’t hesitate to make, because he said St. Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC) vs. Condit (27-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) was always the fight that interested him most.
“If I wouldn’t have made the fight fans wanted to see,” White said, “Carlos Condit would have been fighting GSP.”
Condit has four consecutive wins, including three in a row by knockout. The recent tear has given him the reputation as a striker, but it was less than four years ago that Condit won four straight by submission.
In total, he has 13 wins via knockout and 13 by submission. Condit said he thought he posed the greatest threat to St. Pierre for two reasons — his versatility and tenacity.
“He’s a great champion and a great fighter, but I try to challenge a guy mentally,” Condit said. “Are you willing to go as far as I am to keep this belt?”
St. Pierre has mostly cruised over the past four years. He’s won nine straight fights and hadn’t lost a round in more than three years before encountering Jake Shields at UFC 129.
Many thought Diaz would be the one to force St. Pierre into a battle. That responsibility now falls to Condit.
Diaz is left with a bout that’s not nearly as attractive to him. In addition to making less money, Diaz also considers Penn a friend as a former training partner.
“I’ll fight whoever, whatever, anything,” Diaz said in a video he posted to YouTube. “I’d definitely rather fight GSP, of course.”
Check below for a rundown of the rest of the fights on the UFC 137 card.
Heavyweight Bout: Cheick Kongo (16-6-2 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC) vs. Matt Mitrione (5-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) Mitrione, a former NFL player, gets the step-up in competition he deserves with Kongo, who is coming off one of the most dramatic comeback knockout victores in mixed martial arts history.
Heavyweight Bout: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (27-9-2 MMA, 4-5 UFC) vs. Roy Nelson (15-6 MMA, 2-2 UFC) The 37-year old Cro Cop’s MMA career could be coming to an end as this is the last fight on his UFC contract. In Nelson, he finds another fighter on a two-bout losing skid.
Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. George Roop (12-7-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC) Many consider Hioki, who will come over from Japan for his first American fight, the No. 2 featherweight in the world.
Lightweight Bout: Dennis Siver (19-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) vs. Donald Cerrone (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) The winner projects to leap right into title consideration, as the two have combined for nine straight victories entering this preliminary bout.
Featherweight Bout: Tyson Griffin (15-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) vs. Bart Palaszewski (35-14 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Griffin, a Las Vegas-based fighter, could further move up the featherweight divisional ranks with his second win since dropping from lightweight.
Middleweight Bout: Brad Tavares (7-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Dustin Jacoby (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Two prospects looking to separate themselves early in their UFC careers meet here.
Bantamweight Bout: Scott Jorgensen (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Jeff Curran (33-13-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Jorgensen continues his quest to another shot at the bantamweight belt after falling to Dominick Cruz last year against Curran, who last fought in the octagon at UFC 46.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Brandon Vera (11-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) vs. Eliot Marshall (8-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) Vera was momentarily cut from the organization after a UFC 125 loss to Thiago Silva, but got another chance when Silva’s win was overturned to a no contest because of a failed drug test.
Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem (4-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Danny Downes (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Nijem was favored to win the last season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but Tony Ferguson knocked him out in the first round of their finale bout.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi (15-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Francis Carmont (16-7 MMA, 0-0 UFC) One win was all it took for Camozzi to get another shot in the UFC after losing his spot eight months ago.