The UFC hits Seattle on Saturday night with UFC on Fox 5 which is arguably their most stacked card of the year. In the main event, Benson Henderson defends his lightweight title against Nate Diaz. Henderson, who is riding a five fight winning streak, will look to prove his doubters wrong when he takes on the versatile Stockton, California native.
The card also includes an intriguing welterweight matchup between BJ Penn and Rory MacDonald. Penn, who is coming out of retirement, has a lot to prove after a lackluster two years in the octagon. He’ll be in tough with MacDonald who has consistently looked stronger with each outing.
Rounding out the main card is a light heavyweight showdown between former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Alexander Gustafsson plus a welterweight clash between Mike Swick and Matt Brown.
The fight: Henderson puts his lightweight title on the line for the first time since his controversial wins over Frankie Edgar. Henderson will be looking to prove his naysayers wrong after pulling off two decisions over the former champion. Diaz is currently riding an impressive three fight winning streak with victories over Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller. Since moving back to lightweight, Diaz has greatly improved in each outing.
What to look for: This fight is going to be pure fireworks. Can Henderson handle Diaz’s overwhelming striking? Can Diaz handle Henderson’s wrestling and aggressive top game? This fight will hinge on who does a better job imposing their will. Henderson needs to utilize his strong leg kicks and solid top game. Diaz on the other hand needs to bring the fight to Henderson, get in his face and overwhelm him with strikes while also creating scrambles whenever the fight hits the canvas.
The fight: Gustafsson enters the fight as one of the UFC’s brightest prospects. A victory over Shogun will propel Gustafsson to the top of the light heavyweight division and likely into a fight with Jon Jones. Gustafsson is currently riding a five fight winning streak. Shogun, former PRIDE and UFC champion, will be looking to get himself back to peak performance after undergoing multiple knee surgeries over the past two years. While injures have hindered Shogun, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he has consistently fought and beaten top competition throughout his career.
What to look for: Shogun will need to utilize his strong clinch and leg kicks to wear Gustafsson down. The reach is almost equal so Gustafsson will have to be aware of Shogun’s power. Gustafsson will have the better gas tank so the longer the fight goes the more it favors the Swede. Experience rests in the corner of Shogun but Gustafsson boasts an impressive UFC resume. Gustafsson will have to use his speed, timing and movement to get the edge in this one.
The fight: A true passing of the guard. BJ Penn, a UFC pioneer, has been around ’01 and beaten the best. Penn enters this fight coming off a battering to the hands of Nick Diaz where afterwards he announced his retirement. Penn will be looking to establish himself as a contender after a turbulent two years. MacDonald is the future of the welterweight division and one of the most exciting fighters in the sport. MacDonald is riding a three fight winning streak and a victory over Penn propels MacDonald to the top of the division.
What to look for: Penn has all the tools to beat MacDonald but has father time passed him? Penn says he’s motivated and in shape. If he isn’t, it’ll be a quick night for the Kailua, Hawaii native. Penn was fired up at the pre-fight press conference and he seems to have that spark back. Penn has the power and speed to bust MacDonald up. MacDonald will have to pick his shots and force the clinch a lot like Georges St. Pierre did at UFC 94. MacDonald will have the edge from top position where he can control and rain down his potent ground and pound.
The fight: Swick made his return in August after a nearly two and a half year layoff. Swick looked impressive finishing Damarques Johnson. This fight will be Swick’s opportunity to prove he’s still a force and one of the most exciting strikers in the welterweight division. Brown is a versatile veteran who is riding a three fight winning streak. Brown always comes to fight but will his style be tailor-made for Swick?
What to look for: Swick is well-rounded and has tremendous speed and power. Brown is similar but he’s shown he’s susceptible to submissions. Swick will have the edge on the mat where he’ll be the more technical of the two. Brown will need to bring the fight to Swick and hope to either overwhelm him with strikes or do some damage from the top.