Morning Report: B.J. Penn refocused and confident; Nate Diaz worried about judging at UFC on FOX 5

Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

Nate Diaz is known for many things, but being a point fighter isn't one of them. The younger Stockton brother has taken just eight fights to a decision throughout his lengthy career, winning only two of them.

Now it appears all of those losses at the hands of the judges have taken their toll on Diaz, as ahead of next week's title challenge against Ben Henderson, Diaz voiced his concerns about befalling the same fate.

"I don't think I've got any chance of winning any type of decision," Diaz admitted to Inside MMA. "So I got to go out there and do what I can do, try to finish my opponent, try to be the better fighter and win the fight. But, either way, if it goes to decision, I'm going to be the one out-scoring and out-pointing, out-doing him."

Diaz was then asked if this attitude was fueled, in part, by his brother's polarizing loss to Carlos Condit, offering only a rather awkward, "Yeah," in response.

Admittedly, both Diaz's have a history of divisive decision losses, Nick to Condit and Nate to Gray Maynard. Though Diaz isn't alone in his paranoia, as his head coach Cesar Gracie reaffirmed in the next segment.

"Unfortunately, pretty much it is [the camp's mindset now]," Gracie echoed. "It's almost like in Nick's case, he figures he's fighting his opponent and he's fighting the judges. So he's got to finish people. These guys fight like that anyways.

"Unfortunately we've got to get those finishes, or maybe win something so lopsided that we get a decision. We saw that with B.J. Penn. I've never really seen a close decision where the nod was given to the Diaz's. I always see them, if it's close they're going to lose. I don't know why. I think maybe the judges really don't care for them that much."

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

Diaz concerned about judges at FOX 5. Speaking to Inside MMA, UFC 155 headliner Nate Diaz conceded, "I just don't think that I have any chance of winning any type of decision," referring, in part, to his brother's shaky history of losing close decisions.

Penn confident on FOX conference call. In advance of his return to action at UFC on FOX 5, former champ B.J. Penn admitted the public's disregard of his legacy, plus Rory MacDonald's criticism of his weight, led to a 'fire being relit under his butt' on yesterday's conference call. Check out the full audio here.

McMann: Rousey fight doesn't make sense right now. Said former Olympian and women's 135-pound contender Sara McMann on a title fight against Ronda Rousey: "There needs to be a proper build-up to a fight like that. People don't really know me that well. They know her. So it just doesn't make sense, really, to have it without a strong following for me, too."

Flashback: Silva says he'd fight at 170. Back in 2010, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva made several references about dropping down to 170 pounds in the lead-up to his UFC 112 bout against Demian Maia, as dug up by the folks over at Bloody Elbow.

Mirzaev convicted of death by negligence, released. Rasul Mirzaev, the former Bellator prospect and combat sambo world champion who last year caused the death of 19-year-old Ivan Agafonov during a fight in Russia, was convicted of 'death by negligence' and handed a maximum sentence of two years. However, due to a caveat in Russian law, Mirzaev was promptly released following his sentencing.

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MEDIA STEW

Jon Jones made a recent appearance on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where he and the UFC donated $15,000 to the show's project to help single moms. All in all, a unique bit of P.R. for the UFC. (T-minus 3, 2, 1, until "fake" comments.)

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Evidence #236 that there is justice in this world.

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Jean-Claude Van Damma posted this on his Facebook with the caption, "Congratulations for the win, Georges St-Pierre! This video is dedicated to you, my friend." That pretty much tells you all you need to know.

(HT: MiddleEasy)

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He did not come to the river to bang, bro.

(HT: The UG)

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Because Bruce Lee would've turned 72 years old yesterday, and because I can't be the only fight fan out here who was dramatically influenced by Lee as a child, it seems fitting to finish off with this classic.

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HAPPY 72ND

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BABY JAY

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GOLD

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 27, 2012):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Steve Borchardt return with: Bellator instituting championship fight rematches a great move for business

Bellator's tournament format has been something of a double edged sword for the company thus far. On the positive side of the ledger it gives them a unique identity and provides an alternative for fans who are tired of the UFC playing fast and loose with how they award title shots. While the jury may be out as to whether or not Bellator's meritocratic booking strategy and emphasis on competition can catch on with a larger audience, it at least gives the company something to hang their hat on when trying to convince fans to take a chance on a promotion other than the UFC.

However, the tournament format has also proven to be something of an albatross at times. There's perhaps no better example of this than Rebney steadfastly refusing to book Eddie Alvarez in a rematch with Michael Chandler after the latter upset Alvarez and captured the Bellator lightweight championship in one of the best fights of 2011. An immediate rematch between the two was by far the biggest fight Bellator could have made in early 2012, but Rebney's loyalty to the tournament concept prevented the bout from taking place. Instead Alvarez fought Shinya Aoki and Chandler met Akihiro Gono in a non-title fight. According to MMAJunkie.com the Alvarez/Aoki fight did a dismal 109,000 viewers wheras Chandler/Gono pulled in a decidedly average 165,000 viewers. In contrast to these numbers the first Alvarez/Chandler fight did 269,000 viewers. Considering that rematches in this sport have a history of often doing better numbers than the original fight, it's hard to view Rebney's refusal to book Alvarez/Chandler II as anything other than a missed opportunity.

Incidentally, the Bellator lightweight championship hasn't been defended since Chandler captured it from Alvarez in November of 2011. While some may argue it devalues the championship when number one contenders are determined via the arbitrary whims of the company - see the uproar surrounding the Jones/Chael Sonnen fight for an example - there is also an argument to be made that leaving the belt on ice for over a year does even greater damage to its legitimacy. By the time Chandler makes his first title defense early next year the UFC lightweight title will have been up for grabs on three separate occasions. A distant number two promotion struggling to make a name for itself can't afford to have its championship titles look any more second rate than they already invariably will by dint of the widespread perception that the UFC is the major league of MMA.

Of course there will always be online fans who bemoan immediate rematches, but history has proven these types to be a vocal minority on the fringe of the hardcore fanbase. Time and again rematches have done great business in MMA, with Siva/Sonnen II, GSP/Penn II, Lesnar/Mir II, Liddell/Ortiz II, and Ortiz/Shamrock parts II and III being among some of the best numbers the business has ever seen. While there be occasional exceptions to this rule - like the third installment of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard which fell flat at the box office despite the two turning in an all time classic in their second bout at UFC 125 - more often than not rematches between the right stars capture fan interest and lead to increased viewership.

Bellator very well might not have the caliber of stars needed to lead to a huge upturn in business, but they'll never know what their ceiling is unless they put their talent in the best possible positions to succeed. The deck may be stacked against Rebney and company due to the UFC's hegemonic control of the industry, but they nevertheless need to make the best of the cards they've been dealt if they want to establish themselves with a wider audience. Monday's announcement of the championship fight rematch clause puts them in position to do just that.

For the health of the MMA industry as a whole, here's hoping they're successful.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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