If you need a reason to watch UFC on Fox 5, look no further than the sport's biggest bad boy in the main event.
Nate Diaz is one of the easiest guys to hate in all of sports, but perhaps that's why he's becoming a fighter you have to watch.
His persona is like that of any number of thugs I grew up around; the only difference is—Diaz can actually fight. He's loud and borderline obnoxious, but he's real good.
This highlight shows everything people love and hate about Diaz:
On the other side of the Octagon is the reigning and defending champion, Benson "Smooth" Henderson. He is perhaps a polar opposite to Diaz, but don't mistake the more humble personality as a sign of softness.
He survived two hotly-contested battles with Frankie Edgar, and now he puts his lightweight title on the line against Diaz.
Henderson will be giving away about three inches in height, but Diaz will have to be wary of Henderson's powerful leg kicks. Smooth has tree trunk-like legs and that technique gave Edgar an issue in the first fight.
Attacking low may be Henderson's best bet, as Diaz is so long, he figures to have the edge in high strikes. Tactically, this fight will be extremely interesting.
Both men are more than capable on the ground, but Diaz certainly looks to finish on the mat more than Henderson does. It would appear that Henderson is the stronger of the two, but Diaz has deceiving strength.
In the end, Henderson will win a hard-fought decision. I can't see Diaz submitting him, and I don't think he has the striking ability to stop him.
Here are my predictions for the other bouts on the card:
Facebook Preliminary Fight
Scott Jorgensen vs. John Albert
In a fight that pits two non-distinguished 135-pounders, Albert looks like the superior fighter. Jorgensen stands only 5'4", he isn't an overly impressive striker, and his grappling is rudimentary.
Albert isn't exactly tearing up the Octagon of late, either. He's lost his last two fights, and he needs a win in this one.
Jorgensen has shown some weakness in his submission defense in the past. He's naturally aggressive, but it leads him into bad situations.
Albert will bring that flaw to the forefront again. I predict a submission win for him in the second round.
F/X Preliminary Fights
Dennis Siver vs. Nam Phan
Siver looks like Daniel Craig's crooked cousin, and he kicks like one of 007's martial arts-inclined foes. His spinning-back heel kick is like the equivalent of Bas Ruuten's liver punch. Watch him fold up a few foes in this video:
Phan has had 29 professional fights, but he will be no match for Siver, who will win by KO in the first round.
Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo
The Dirty Bird has a huge height advantage, and he's a more technically sound fighter, but he'll have to watch Trujillo's power.
In some ways, his striking reminds me of a young Vitor Belfort. His issue is that there isn't much beyond that initial charge.
In the end, Means will take the fight to the ground and win a decision.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez
I've only seen Cruisckshank fight once, but I was impressed with him. He is extremely athletic—you can see that with the back flip he does at the 10:47 mark of the video.
He also takes a lot of chances with high-risk kicks and strikes.
Against Martinez, that could get him into trouble. Martinez is an excellent jiu-jitsu artist, and he could counter Cruickshank early to set the tone of the fight.
I'll take Cruickshank in this one because both men want to impress, and that generally means a stand-up affair.
Cruickshank is clearly the best striker of the two, and he should win a decision.
Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor
Nijem is known for his chin, and it'll almost certainly be tested in this fight. Joe Proctor has extremely heavy hands.
Both men are Ultimate Fighter alums looking to make their marks in the bigger events.
Nijem is an excellent wrestler and that's where he has an advantage on Proctor. Getting him to the mat will be the biggest challenge.
Proctor's takedown defense won't be up to par, and Nijem will wear him down for a decision victory.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton
They don't call Mike Easton the Hulk for nothing. He has tremendous power and if he catches an opponent flush, they usually go to sleep. Ask Hudson Rocha; he gets depleted by Hulk's left hand at the 7:23 mark of this video:
Easton also shows good defensive grappling skills, but his best quality is his striking.
Assuncao will likely look to take Easton to the mat, but his ground skills are good enough to ward off those attacks.
Once they stand, Easton will do major damage. The Hulk will smash in the second round.
Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
Edwards has a wealth of experience with 60 MMA fights, but Stephens is no newbie with 28. He's stocky and difficult to slow down.
The man they call the Little Heathen applies too much pressure for Edwards at this stage in his career. Though he keeps himself in excellent condition, Stephens will physically overwhelm him with strikes and takedowns.
He'll win a lopsided decision over Edwards.
Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown
There is something weird about a guy whose nickname is The Immortal, yet whose MMA record is a modest 17-11. That is the case with Matt Brown, and he's set up to become even more flawed after this one.
Swick is too fast and too accurate of a striker to be derailed by Brown. The Immortal has some heart, but Swick is far too talented for him.
He wins by TKO in the first round.
B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald
Do you remember what Matt Hughes looked like in his last two fights against Penn and Josh Koscheck? It feels like Penn is going down the same path with this one.
MacDonald is one of the sport's brightest young stars. He's well-rounded and hungry. Penn is only 33 years old, but he's been in his share of wars, and this seems like too tall a task for him.
I question whether Penn will be quick enough to contend with MacDonald in the stand-up game and whether he'll have the stamina in a match that stays on the mat for an extended time.
Either way, MacDonald is the clear choice for me.
Mauricio Rua vs. Alexander Gustaffson
Gustaffson is an interesting fighter because of his size and how that could potentially match up against Jon Jones. Before he can think about that, he has to prove he can handle Shogun.
Rua won an epic battle with Brandon Vera in his last fight, and this one could be similar. Both fighters like to trade, but Rua may be in for more than he can withstand with Gustaffson.
Gustaffson packs a huge punch, and his reach advantage will be significant in stand-up.
Gustaffson will win this one, and Shogun may be fielding some retirement questions afterward.
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