The year is coming to a close, and the UFC is finally in a position to give fans a few spectacular cards. Somehow injuries haven’t factored too heavily into the equation of UFC on FOX 5, and that’s something we should all be thankful for. The fact that this is a free event is just icing on the cake.
Tonight’s main card will feature four fights that should, by all accounts, prove to be highly stimulating. There is without a doubt, some major divisional relevancy affixed to a few of these showdowns, and tonight could mark a turning point in the careers of men like Alexander Gustafsson, Rory MacDonald and Nate Diaz.
Will these youngsters be able to raise their stock with massive, defining performances? That, my friends, is the question of the day.
If you take a look at the careers of both of these men, Mike Swick seems to be the far more consistent of the two. With 19 fights in the bag, he has only come up short four times in competition. Swick has beaten some quality opposition in Ben Saunders, Marcus Davis and Josh Burkman, and he has proven to be a reliable finisher.
Matt Brown, on the other hand, has been stuck on a roller coaster his entire career, piecing together solid win streaks, only to run into frequent setbacks. However, “The Immortal” has some serious momentum on his side having picked up three wins in his last three Octagon appearances, and he’ll be looking to carry big confidence into the cage with him tonight.
Technically, Swick is the superior of the two, possessing a highly-polished striking game and some excellent top control.
However, Brown isn’t a slouch. His chin is the stronger of the two, and his will to win is unbreakable. The level of intensity that Brown brings into the cage is a notch above that showcased by Mike Swick.
Brown comes to destroy foes, while Swick comes to win competitions. There’s a marked difference, especially if this bout turns into the dogfight I see coming.
Swick will have plenty of moments in this fight, and he may put the hurt on Matt, but Matt won’t be going anywhere. Brown will fight moving forward constantly, and eventually, Swick’s cardio will come into play.
It may be a rally of sorts, depending on the level of damage Swick is able dish out early, but Matt Brown will upset Mike Swick tonight when he pummels him into submission in Round 3.
At 23 years old, MacDonald’s future looks amazing, and his ceiling is seemingly invisible. If “Ares” opts to invest the required work in the gym, he could very well be a future champion, but he’s got a challenge in front of him this evening that will not be overcome with ease.
B.J. Penn has been a staple of this sport for more than a decade. He has gone to war with countless champions, beat a few of them and picked up invaluable experience along the way. You can’t show B.J. Penn anything he hasn’t already seen.
Penn’s on the downside of his career, competing in a weight class that still does not suit him. He is and has been a natural lightweight since he burst onto the scene in 2001, and while I admire his courage and willingness to battle larger men, it’s not the brightest maneuver to make for a professional fighter.
Tonight, Rory MacDonald’s performance will echo the sentiments of most pundits: B.J. Penn is too small to compete with most of the Goliaths fighting at 170 pounds.
I’d love to see Penn pull off a victory, but it’s not likely to happen. What is likely to happen is this: MacDonald utilizes his size and strength to bully B.J. and drag him to the mat, where he’ll be strong enough to maintain top control and deliver grueling ground and pound. Penn may land a hay-maker, but it won’t be enough.
Rory MacDonald wins this fight via unanimous (and bloody) decision.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has seen his best days come and go as a professional athlete. Three knee surgeries have slowed the attack of Rua and hindered his training—rarely do we see Mauricio in peak physical condition these days.
Gustafsson, on the other hand, is coming into his own, striving for greatness and approaching his physical prime. He has got momentum, youth and size on his side. All three factors will seal the fate of “Shogun” in tonight’s co-main event.
Look for Rua to come out aggressively (as usual) and try to put the Swedish import to sleep early. The Brazilian will more than likely give fans a few scintillating moments, but ultimately, his gas tank will run low, and Alex will take full control of this fight.
I don’t believe we’ll see this fight produce a finish, but we will see it produce a new top-ranked light heavyweight contender: Alexander Gustafsson walks away with his biggest win tonight after three hard-fought rounds.
As a longtime fan of the Diaz brothers, there’s nothing I want more than to see Nate wrap those long arms around Henderson’s neck and squeeze until the champion snores a morbid tune for the referee. But, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I see a fight that proves to be far less entertaining than most predict, as “Bendo” is going to have to implement the perfect game-plan to keep Nate from imposing his will. That game-plan likely includes a lot of elusive movement with some quick combinations sprinkled in the mix.
Nate’s reach will be a big problem for the champion, and that’s why Benson will aim to do everything in his power to keep himself away from the end of Diaz’s long punches. On the mat, I give Diaz the edge, but I’m not fully convinced Henderson will have the gall to take the fight there often.
Benson brings a ridiculously safe plan of attack into the cage tonight and makes it work. I hope I’m wrong here, but I don’t think we’re going to get the war we all crave.
Henderson keeps his title after a long, drawn-out, cautious affair that leaves the junior Diaz brother profoundly frustrated. It’s going to be 25 minutes of running, pitter-patter, running, and so on and so forth.
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