When asked some years ago who the best boxer in MMA was, famed boxing coach Freddie Roach pointed to none other than this weekend’s UFC 137 main event fighter BJ “The Prodigy” Penn. Though he appreciates the well-deserved praise he gets for his hands, Penn actually points to his impending opponent, Nick Diaz, as being MMA’s most astute practitioner of the sweet science.
“I really feel that Nick’s the best boxer in mixed martial arts today and it shows in a bunch of his fights,” asserts Penn. “I mean, he’s got the highest punch volume. He’s done all these great things standing up, he can stand up with anyone. A lot of people want to talk to me about my boxing and different things, but… I think Nick’s the best boxer in MMA.”
For his part, Diaz doesn’t have a problem agreeing with Penn’s assertion, appreciative of the high praise given by a fighter whom he readily admits to looking up to.
“Sure, I appreciate that, what he said. I think that’s reasonable,” agrees Diaz. “I’ve had more boxing experience than most people in the UFC, and anybody who’s had more clearly they’re outdone in some way.”
Penn and Diaz come to face each other in the UFC 137 main event through a bizarre set of circumstances. The friends and occasional training partners were originally scheduled to appear on the card in different fights, Penn against Carlos Condit and Diaz against Georges St-Pierre. When Diaz failed to follow through on scheduled media appearances he was yanked from the main event title fight and pitted against Penn, with Condit getting the boost to face St-Pierre. Then, just over a week from the fight, St-Pierre was forced off of the card with injury, giving us UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz.
The fight card takes place this Saturday night, October 29, from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. As always, FightLine will have live, ongoing coverage of the full fight card that night.