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!!!)
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.
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.
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.
“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.