Despite a series of last-minute changes, the UFC still manages to pull through as the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada hosts UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz on Saturday night. The original main event bout with “Rush” Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title against “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit was scrapped after the champion sustained a knee injury, “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) take care of headlining duties. In the co-main event, “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0) gets a steep increase in competition as he tries to keep his undefeated streak alive when he taking on fellow knockout artist Cheick Kongo (16-6-2). It is a do-or-die fight for their careers when “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6) square off to get back into the winning circle. George Roop (12-6-1) is the one-man welcoming party when he greets Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) into the Octagon for his featherweight debut. The bantamweights kick off the festivities when “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) takes on submission artist “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1). Once a challenger for the title, Jorgensen seeks to tie together another chain of wins in order to get a second shot at the gold. Curran is as tested as they come and would love to make a statement when he enters the cage by making the young contender tap.
At First Glance: Fresh off a successful UFC debut, Scott Jorgensen reinforced his spot as one of the world’s top bantamweights through wrestling and powerful striking. Jeff Curran is a seasoned veteran of the sport whose name was founded on his submission skills. This fight is more urgent for Curran. Despite a short lived stint in the UFC in 2004, PRIDE FC, WEC, and Bellator, Curran has spent a majority of his career in regional promotions. Now given a second shot in the world’s premier MMA organization, a win for Curran at the expense of a younger contender could give his career a breath of new life as he steps into the spotlight once again.
In Depth: While Curran took the path less traveled to become a well-rounded competitor, he will encounter a fighter who is just as well-rounded but with less experience in Jorgensen. Despite a hiccup against current bantamweight champion “The Dominantor” Dominick Cruz (18-1), Jorgensen’s championship-level wrestling has been supported greatly by the technical Muay Thai striking learned under the tutelage of Kit Cope. Naturally athletic and blessed with power, Jorgensen can effectively mix his strikes and takedowns together as his victory over Brad Pickett (19-5) and recent knockout over Ken Stone (10-3) have proven. Curran himself has solid boxing to his credit but his Jiu-Jitsu is what has kept many away from wanting to test their luck with him on the ground. A little over half of his victories have come by way of submission which serves as a testament that “Big Frog” makes a point to end the match once the fight is off the feet. With the reach advantage he will have over the former challenger, Curran can prevent Jorgensen from initiating any threatening offense and possibly out-point his way to a decision if he cannot stop him. If “Young Guns” gets too close for comfort on the ground and allows the slightest bit of breathing room, Curran won’t hesitate to throw a leg up for a choke or lock and try to squeeze the win from there.
Wild Card: Curran is going to be dealing with pressure on two levels. On one end, this could be his last shot in a major promotion now that many rival organizations of the UFC cease to exist. He has already stated that in some fights he did not come mentally prepared, especially those after his loss to “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (25-5). Coming in unsure or not focused will make for a very long, or very short night, for Curran. The second end of pressure is the kind that Jorgensen will push upon him. Jorgensen has no problem working his way into range and exchanging in the pocket and bullying others when close enough in the clinch, against the cage, or on the mat. Curran has to keep Jorgensen on a very tight leash by using his reach standing or keep active looking for better positioning or submission opportunities on the ground to prevent from being gunned down.
The Verdict: Neither man is an easy fight for any fighter, much less themselves. They can trade leather and grapple with the best of them and because of this, it should be no wonder why these two were given the bump-up to the main card over the other preliminary fights. The fight will see its share of strikes being tossed but once the fight hits the canvas, the younger , hungrier, and more tenacious Jorgensen should be able to keep Curran grounded and tamed up until the referee calls it quits for him. Jorgensen via Technical Knockout (Strikes), Round 3