Monday, December 3, 2012

UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz Preview

The Ultimate Fighting Championship presents its 5th show on Fox this coming Saturday night, and for the first time since the very first show, a title is being defended on Fox, as Benson Henderson defends the Lightweight Title against Nate Diaz in what is sure to be a barn burner of a fight!  Tom and Jim take a look at the four fights scheduled for the Fox broadcast (there is a 3 hour Prelims special airing on FX as well, so 5 hours of fights on Saturday night!!!)

“The Immortal” Matt Brown vs. Mike “Quick” Swick

JIM:  Mike Swick came back in a big way in August, knocking out DeMarques Johnson in just 1:20.  Matt Brown meanwhile is 3-0 in 2012, with TKO wins over Chris Cope and Luis Ramos, and a decision win over Stephen Thompson.  Both of these guys are KO artists, so expect to see the leather fly in this one!  I want to say Swick wins by TKO, but in 11 career losses, Brown has NEVER lost by KO or TKO, but 9 of those 11 have come by way of submission, so I expect a knockdown from Swick, and he’ll follow to the ground and get a submission win.

TOM:  It was that August fight that Swick won which may have been his saving grace for his UFC career.  Can he capitalize on the momentum from that to overcome the cagey Brown?  Brown is a guy familiar with halting momentum as he did, specifically, in the win over Stephen Thompson earlier this year as well.  I think Swick is coming into this match ready to do damage and think that is what occurs.  Even with the history that Brown carries having not been defeated by KO or TKO, that streak ends Saturday.  Mike Swick via TKO.

Rory “Ares” MacDonald vs. “The Prodigy” BJ Penn

JIM:  MacDonald is a star waiting to burst through, and this is the fight to do it in.  Of his 13 wins, 12 of them have come by way of stoppage (6 KO/TKO and 6 Submissions) and his only loss was a TKO loss to Carlos Condit right at the end of the fight.  Penn meanwhile has lost 3 of his last 5, and the only win in that (there was also a draw with Jon Fitch) was a TKO of an over the hill Matt Hughes two years ago.  Penn’s tough, and might be able to hang on for a decision loss, but I think MacDonald wins this one by TKO. 

TOM: This is the first of the FOX televised fights that have a common theme: A “gatekeeper” vet poses a legit challenge for the rising fighter.  As Jim alludes to, Penn has the toughness and skill, but his best days in the Octagon may be behind him.  MacDonald can use this fight to likely lock up a revenge bout against Condit and hope to keep his road to a Welterweight title shot forging ahead.  That is exactly what I think he will do.  BJ will give his all, but won’t be able to halt MacDonald here.  Rory MacDonald via TKO is my pick as well.

Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson vs. Maurico “Shogun” Rua

JIM:  Gustafsson probably puts himself in title contention (after the Jones/Sonnen fight) if he beats Rua here as he’s been working his way up the ladder and has won 5 in a row, but this is a definite step up in competition for him.  Rua on the other hand has been trading wins and losses over his last 6 fights, and is coming off a TKO win over Brandon Vera the last time the UFC was on Fox.  This one can go either way, and might very well be the fight I am most interested in on Saturday night.  I have been a big fan of Gustafsson for a long time, and I think this is his moment to climb up and become the top dog awaiting the winner of the Jones/Sonnen fight (bad part being, it could be late summer, early fall before he’d get that title shot).  Gustafsson by TKO is my pick here.

TOM:  It is really an interesting dilemma that is being presented in the Light Heavyweight division.  After virtual domination in the last 20+ months by Jon Jones, UFC is using a pro wrestling tactic in their booking of the Jones-Sonnen fight after a brief war of words from the two just a few months back when Jones had to withdraw from his most recent fight.  I agree that waiting in the wings should be Gustafsson if he can overcome “Shogun” on Saturday.  I am amped for this fight and the main event, without a doubt.  Do not forget as well, that should Dan Henderson be able to overcome Lyoto Machida early next year, Jones-Henderson would also be a pretty marketable title fight in the event it could come together.  Rua is such a warrior and I think back to his war against Dan Henderson from a year ago and overcoming a very game Brandon Vera from earlier this year when I think of him in this fight and again “gatekeeper” comes up when I think of him opposing his opponent.  I think that with the additional “mileage” of the last year will prove to be too much for Rua here and I, too, feel it is a Gustafsson win.  Alexander Gustafsson via Decision.

UFC Lightweight Title Fight
“Smooth” Benson Henderson (Champ) vs. Nate Diaz

JIM:  The Diaz brothers frustrate me.  I hate the way they carry themselves, but damn if they aren’t really good fighters.  On the other hand, I respect Benson Henderson a lot, and have become a fan of his since his move over from the WEC.  Henderson has won 5 in a row, all by decision, while Diaz is coming in on 3 fight win streak, and has finished two tough guys in Gomi and Miller during that run.  Honestly, I don’t see a finish coming in this one, so I hope the “casual” fans that tune in are ready for a 25 minute chess match.  If anyone can play the ground game with Henderson, it’s likely Diaz, but I’m going to go with my hopes here and pick Benson Henderson to retain the title by Decision, but I’m going to guess it could be a 48-47 win for him.  It should be a close fight!

TOM:  I’ve been a big fan of Henderson for a while.  I think he proved a lot in this past year in his fights with Frankie Edgar.  He may not have won new fans because of his close wins, but to win both fights and survive Edgar, he very well established his title-worthiness and championship pedigree in UFC, carrying it over from his WEC days as well.  As for Nate Diaz, his mouth writes checks that his skills can cash!  That might make him disliked or as Jim put it well “frustrating.”  He will give Benson a great test and as I mentioned above, I cannot wait for their duel inside the cage.  Benson Henderson via Submission.
There you have it...we agree on winners across the board, but not on the finishes to the fights.  Check out UFC on FOX 5, beginning at 8pm EST on Saturday night and the prelims as well on FX, which begin at 5pm EST.

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