The last UFC on Fox event of 2012 is in the books, and it delivered on all levels.
From the fantastic preliminary card to one of the most stacked main cards of the year, UFC on Fox 5 was one of the best nights of fights we’ve seen this year, and the promotion brought a trilogy of fights that could have easily headlined three separate events.
The main event between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz featured two of the most exciting fighters to watch under the UFC banner, and the “changing of the guard” fights in Alexander Gustafsson vs. Shogun Rua and Rory MacDonald vs. BJ Penn did exactly what they were supposed to do and create a couple of new stars for the organization to help build its future.
Overall, UFC on Fox 5 was a tremendous success, and to make things even better, we got to watch the entire thing for free.
Benson Henderson proved he was the best 155-pound fighter in the world in his dominant win over Nate Diaz, but it was the manner in which he won that was most impressive.
“Smooth” completely shut down the offense of the younger Diaz, using his superior wrestling to constantly stay attached to his opponent and decimating Diaz’s lead leg with kicks to take away the fighter’s mobility.
It was a brilliant game plan that Henderson worked to perfection, and after a 25-minute beatdown of one of the most dangerous fighters in the lightweight division, it looks like Henderson could find himself on top of the toughest division in MMA for quite some time.
His antics may have been entertaining, but Nate Diaz didn’t fight anything like the man who earned himself a UFC title shot over the last year-and-a-half.
I’m an admitted lover of the Diaz swagger, but there were points in Saturday night’s bout where Diaz’s desire to taunt and talk trash seemed to outweigh his desire to dish out any offense.
Overall, it was a particularly bad performance for a fighter that did nothing but impress over his last few fights, and fans are going to see a lot out of Nate before they’re willing to take him seriously as a title threat again.
A lot of people thought that Alexander Gustafsson had a chance to be a threat in the light heavyweight division, but until his victory over Shogun Rua in Saturday night’s co-main event, he hadn’t done quite enough to prove he was legit.
Now that’s he’s a bonafide contender, there’s no reason not to jump aboard The Mauler’s hype train.
A big-time fight is on the horizon for Gustafsson, and another win or two is going to earn him a hard-earned crack at Jon Jones and the light heavyweight crown.
I’m sure Shogun Rua hates losing as much as the next guy, but he can take solace in the fact that he usually looks pretty damn good in a loss.
That was the case in his loss against Gustafsson as Shogun dished out a fair amount of punishment and turned the fight into a war, but in the end he just didn’t have enough to pull off the win.
The loss is likely going to push Shogun out of the UFC title picture for quite some time, and at this point in his career, Rua may be regulated to gatekeeper status until he decides to hang up his gloves.
After completely destroying BJ Penn, it feels like a matter of time before Rory MacDonald finds himself in a UFC title fight.
The 23-year-old Canadian has torn through the majority of his opponents inside the Octagon, absolutely dominating tough fighters like Nate Diaz and Mike Pyle. His one loss to Carlos Condit came by TKO late in a fight that MacDonald was winning.
He may have to wait for friend and teammate Georges St-Pierre to get out of the way, but MacDonald is well on his way to earning a shot at UFC gold.
Hopefully this means the end for BJ Penn at welterweight.
It was hard to watch Penn get beaten silly by Rory MacDonald for a full 15 minutes, and if The Prodigy keeps fighting at 170, it’s likely that we’ll keep seeing the same results.
It’s either retirement or lightweight for Penn, and honestly, retirement doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Who would have thought that Matt Brown would have the only finish on this stacked main card?
Brown was a pretty heavy underdog to Mike Swick heading into the bout, but once they got into the cage it was obvious that “Immortal” wasn’t going to go down easy.
The knockout win for Brown was by far the biggest victory of his MMA career, and now that he’s riding a four-fight win streak, Brown may be slowly working toward the top of a rough welterweight division.
Not a great performance from Mike Swick.
The AKA-based fighter looked flat from the moment the fight started against Matt Brown, and while he was able to defend off of his back and avoid submissions for a while, he never quite did enough to muster up some offense of his own.
The knockout punch put Swick away landed flush, but “Quick” was never really in this fight before the shot landed and is going to need to come back strong in his next fight if he wants another big opportunity in the UFC.