Penn is infamously the man who licks the blood of vanquished opponents off his gloves. He's the man who shouted out "Sean Sherk, you're dead!" before UFC 84. He's the same fighter who pronounced welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre a steroid user and a "cheat" leading up to their UFC 94 bout.
Nick Diaz, for his part, is known for his 2007 "don't be scared Homie" challenge to K.J. Noons, the televised brawl with Jason Miller that got Strikeforce kicked off of CBS, and the utter lack of regard for promotional protocol that got him kicked out of his bout with GSP only weeks ago.
Both men have established that they are capable of an utter lack of respect for opponents, before, after and during fights. So you'd think you'd put the two together and sparks would fly. Alas, that's not the case. Turns out that B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz have a mutual admiration society going.
Here's Penn going into UFC 137 via his Yahoo! blog:
"At this stage in my life, I feel I am too old to talk smack. As I get older, what I realize is that all anyone remembers is who wins fights. I find the smack talking funny when fighters do it, but no one remembers anything except who wins the fights." B.J. Penn, 2011.
And for his part, here's Nick Diaz on B.J. Penn: "I think (Penn's) a much better fighter than GSP all-around," and "He's my favorite fighter."
Ai yi yi. Dana White has to be losing his hair all over again listening to these two play nice. Apparently Penn and Diaz are too much alike to bring out the ire in one another. They need an opposite to send the sparks flying. Both are "counter culture" fighters and seem to need an Captain America (or in GSP's case, Captain Quebec) to bounce off of.
Oh well, I'm personally not worried about it because Penn vs. Diaz is a match-up between two already legendary bad-asses who are still at their physical peaks.
Penn and Diaz may have embellished their reputations with their antics outside the cage, but let's face it, the reason we care what they do is because of the wonderful things they do inside the cage. Despite their stated affection for one another, Nick Diaz wants a title shot against GSP and Penn is in his way. For his part, Penn wants to get back on top and beating up Nick Diaz is step one on that path.
Fans have every right to be disappointed that Georges St. Pierre won't be fighting on this card, but Penn and Diaz have an excellent chance of making everyone forget GSP come fight time.