UFC on Fox 5: Henderson defeats Diaz
Something was definitely in the drinking water in Seattle Saturday night, made evident by fight after fight on UFC on FOX 5 living up to all expectations. Starting with preliminary one, the fighters on the card left nothing in the Octagon.
Diaz enjoyed a three inch height and six inch reach advantage over Henderson, but many were wondering, what's the mind state of the fighter from Stockton California?
Henderson showed his game plan early: leg kicks, and engaging clinches with wrestling, without getting too deep into Diaz’s stellar BJJ. Round one finished without incident, round two began with Diaz scrambling up from the mat, a kick to his head as a reward, and finished with Henderson throwing Diaz off balance with low leg kicks and jabs to the knee, setting up a takedown and attacks to the head.
All goading got the challenger was clipped and dropped. Henderson’s leg kicks continued to immobilize Diaz, and it became evident by mid round three that Diaz’s only hope for victory lay on the ground, via submission. Easier said than done.
Diaz looked in this fight like he did v. Rory MacDonald: overwhelmed by speed, power, wrestling, and athleticism. Not once was he able to utilize his reach and, thus, his boxing. One more example of how important it is to have all the tools in the tool box.
Diaz seemed dangerous during the extensive amount of time the fight was on the ground, due to constant submission attempts that for the most part never came close, but the fight was one-sided. Diaz’s performance against Donald Cerrone had me predicting a Diaz win, but kudos to Henderson and his camp for devising a great attack on Diaz’s style, and then implementing it.
In short, the fight must have been embarrassing for Diaz.
There was a lot at stake in this light heavyweight match: UFC president Dana White has said the winner will get a shot at the title, barring of course an utter lackluster performance. Considering the history of these two men, lackluster was not probable.
Gustafsson started this fight like he started his fight with Thiago Silva: sloppy. He began by using his reach advantage---from height and leg length---but got careless on the ground and nearly gave up a leg lock.
In round two, Rua landed a few bombs, and certainly was looking for the finishing shot, but it was Gustafsson causing more damage, which showed on the bloody mug of the Brazilian. Rua has gotten in a lot of brawls lately, and this was no different.
The ability to take Rua’s overhand right when it landed, scoring takedowns, a liver kick, and a front kick to the face by Gustafsson had Rua’s face looking like hamburger by the end of the third. Gustafsson won every round on the judge’s cards, a unanimous and well-deserved decision.
Gustaffson was impressive in this fight, but when you watch Champion Jon Jones frame by frame, he almost always looks perfectly balanced and invulnerable. Gustafsson does not, and though he may get the shot, the ground will be a significant problem for the Swede. But congrats for the impressive win over a legend in the sport.
BJ Penn---a former champion in two weight classes---was once just an outstanding prospect, like his opponent, Canadian Rory MacDonald, is now. Penn not only had his BJJ black belt in three years, but won a world championship, hence the nickname. MacDonald is considered the first true contender who began training not in a single art and then branching out, but rather as a true mixed martial artist.
According the UFC announcers, MacDonald walks around at a ripped 200, whereas Penn woke up on weigh-in day at 168. Penn looked outgunned from the onset. Penn, an outstanding boxer, had trouble dealing with the height, strength, leg kicks and short left elbow, which wobbled and nearly finished Penn.
Constant jabs, brutal body shots, and a mix of punches, kicks, and elbows turned Penn into a punching bag by the middle of round two. Referee Herb Dean almost stopped the fight, but Penn powered through to the bell.
Penn began round three energetic, but jabs and diversity of attack put Penn on the defensive. MacDonald looked very impressive walking through Penn, despite the latter’s smaller stature.
With this fight Rory made his case for a rematch he asked for post-fight, with Carlos Condit, and Penn surpassed Tito Ortiz with the most Octagon time clocked.
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