UFC on Fox 5 is being held on December 8th at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. Benson Henderson will be defending his lightweight title against Nate Diaz. Other bouts include Rua vs. Gustafsson, Penn vs. MacDonald and Swick vs. Brown.
Let’s take a closer look at the fights.
Benson Henderson (17-2) vs. Nate Diaz (16-7)
Benson Henderson is the UFC lightweight champion and a former WEC champion. After losing his WEC title to Anthony Pettis, he joined the UFC as part of the WEC merger. His road to the belt hasn't been easy. He won arduous decisions over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida before facing the champ, Frankie Edgar. His victory over Edgar and the subsequent rematch were very close fights and highly controversial. Benson is a well-rounded grinder with lots of mental fortitude and is likely to take a fight into deep waters.
Nate Diaz has had his ups and downs but really hit his stride since his return to the lightweight division. He blitzed Takanori Gomi in the first round, put a one-sided beating on Donald Cerrone and handily disposed of Jim Miller. He is a BJJ black belt under Cesar Gracie, with 70% of his wins coming via submission. Not just a grappler, he likes to taunt his opponents while constantly peppering them with smooth boxing combinations. His weakest link lies in the wrestling department. Nate's style is to keep piling on the pressure, and if you don't have an answer, it’s lights out.
My Pick: Diaz's aggressive boxing and slick BJJ will overwhelm Henderson, not to mention his 6 inch reach advantage. This fight will be a very close war which Diaz wins by decision.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is a former Pride and UFC champion, once ranked as the number one light heavyweight in MMA. He joined the UFC when they bought out Pride and fought tooth and nail to become the UFC light heavyweight champion. After losing his belt to Jon Jones, he smoked Forrest Griffin with a first round KO, lost a close decision to Dan Henderson and pulled off a TKO in a tough skirmish against Brandon Vera. Shogun has heavy hands, a hell of a chin and a big heart, but his cardio tends to let him down.
Alexander Gustafsson is a young Swedish fighter who is quickly rising in the UFC rankings. He is on a five fight winning streak and has shown marked improvement with each fight. Most recently, he handily out-struck Thiago Silva, earning a decision win. Gustafsson is a well-rounded fighter with solid boxing, displaying good technique combined with impressive hand speed. Having faced mid-tier light heavyweights so far, the question is how will he fare against a top 5 opponent like Shogun?
My Pick: Shogun has the tools to give Gustafsson a lot of trouble in this fight. His experience, granite chin and heavy hands should be enough to fold Gustafsson. Shogun by KO/TKO.
BJ Penn is a UFC veteran and a legend in the sport of MMA. He lost his lightweight title to Frankie Edgar, as well as the subsequent rematch. He then scored a first round KO against Matt Hughes, ended up in a draw against Jon Fitch and lost a decision to Nick Diaz. He looked great in the beginning of both fights but ultimately let both men impose their game on him. Penn's strengths lie in his BJJ and his boxing, but his cardio has left a lot to be desired as of late. This is a seminal fight in Penn’s career. A loss would likely mean retirement, but a win would elevate him back into the top 10 rankings.
Rory MacDonald is a 23 year old rising star in the UFC. The young Canadian fights out of Tristar Gym. He is currently on a 3 fight winning streak and is looking to add a big name like BJ Penn to his resume. His last two victories over Mike Pyle and Che Mills ended in brutal ground and pound TKOs. Rory is a well rounded fighter with impressive striking and wrestling. He is constantly improving with each fight and has a bright future ahead of him.
My Pick: I predict a good first round showing from Penn but MacDonald's size, strength and 6.5 inch reach advantage will break him down in the later rounds. Rory will out-wrestle Penn, gas him out and pull off the TKO.
Mike Swick is a UFC veteran and one of the original TUF cast members. He made his welterweight debut in 2008, putting together a four fight winning streak which earned him a number one contender match against Dan Hardy. He lost to Hardy by decision and lost his subsequent bout with Paulo Thiago via submission. A stomach disease and a knee injury kept him out of action for over two and a half years. In his recent comeback bout, he scored a KO against DaMarques Johnson.
Matt Brown is a former TUF contestant and finalist who made his UFC debut in 2008. His UFC record has oscillated over the years, but 2012 has been a good year for him. He scored TKOs over Chris Cope and Luiz Ramos and grinded out a decision win over Stephen Thompson. Brown is a brawler with a tough chin who likes to keep pushing the action.
My Pick: Brown can take whatever Swick will throw at him and will out-work him. Brown by Decision.