I don’t know if you’ve heard, but last night’s UFC on Fox 5 event was “the greatest fight card ever assembled on network television.”
Sure, at the beginning of the night it felt like the UFC was going to annoy us quickly with that statement, but to their credit, the event was exactly what they said it was.
It’s not often that a fight card completely lives up to the UFC hype machine, but every so often there’s a night of fights that delivers on almost every possible level.
From the predictably fun opener between Mike Swick and Matt Brown, to the absolute clinic Benson Henderson executed against Nate Diaz, UFC on Fox 5 had something for everyone.
All four main card bouts had something to force fans to get excited about. On many other fight cards, any one of these bouts would have had a chance at earning a bonus check or two for the fighters involved, but the overall high quality of fights made this a night to remember for MMA fans.
Just because the main event of the evening is ranked last on this list, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fight worth watching.
If there was any doubt as to whether Benson Henderson was the best lightweight in the world, he silenced them last night in his dominant decision win over Nate Diaz.
From Round 1 it was clear that Henderson was the smarter, more disciplined fighter in the cage, and “Smooth” used his stifling grappling and brutal ground-and-pound to make things difficult for Diaz the entire night.
It was a dominant victory over an extremely talented fighter, and Henderson proved why he’s the champion in the most talent-rich division in the sport.
This wasn’t a close fight by any means, but Rory MacDonald made a huge statement by battering BJ Penn on the feet last night.
Penn has never been his best at welterweight, but the absolute beatdown that MacDonald put on him last night proved one of two things: Either Penn is completely washed up, or “Ares” is just simply that good.
Although Penn’s loss to Nick Diaz last year throws a fair amount of evidence to the former, I feel like last night was more about MacDonald’s rise to the top of the spot than Penn’s steady decline.
MacDonald jabbed, kicked and shuffled his way to victory over an overwhelmed Penn, and solidified his spot as a top-tier welterweight in the process.
If MacDonald ever lives up to the lofty expectations that fans have put in front of him, last night’s victory over Penn will be looked at as the fight that proved MacDonald was for real. He made a valid claim to Penn’s “Prodigy” moniker in the process.
We knew that a fight between Mike Swick and Matt Brown was guaranteed to be a barn-burner, and the two long-time UFC veterans didn’t disappoint.
Some felt like this fight was more or less a chance to get Swick back to the level of opponent he was fighting before his career-threatening health issues over the last few years. Regardless, it’s always a mistake to overlook a fighter as tough as Brown, and the former Ultimate Fighter 7 cast member made sure everyone that counted him out looked incredibly foolish last night.
Brown found himself in control for the vast majority of the bout, locking in a very tight triangle choke in the first round and making Swick constantly defend instead of attack when the fight hit the mat.
However, it was Brown’s improved striking skills that earned him a career-changing victory, and his two-punch combination that floored Swick in the second round was enough to earn a knockout win.
It’s probably not the best thing for his health, but Shogun Rua just keeps on adding to his legacy by getting into ugly, violent brawls.
The former Pride superstar’s last two fights against Dan Henderson and Brandon Vera reminded fans just how tough Shogun is. After watching him take a ton of huge shots from Alexander Gustafsson in the co-main event, Shogun’s reputation as one of the toughest men in the history of the sport was solidified even further.
Gustafsson spent a lot of time moving forward and delivering some punishment from the clinch. But Rua was able to dish out quite a bit of violence of his own, and the end result was one of the most exciting bouts of the night.
In the end, “The Mauler’s” superior conditioning ended up being the difference, as he took an early lead and held it, earning the biggest win of his young career.