UFC on FOX 5: Benson Henderson v. Nate Diaz
UFC on FOX 5 takes place in Seattle on Saturday, December 8th. Get those umbrellas out, for rain and splattering cage-side. The card is absolutely stacked, and features a title fight at 155 between lightweight champion Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson and challenger Nate Diaz, a scrape almost impossible to predict.
Benson Henderson has an impressive arsenal of strikes made possible through fast-twitch athleticism, but Diaz has stupendous punches-in-bunches boxing that effectively mesmerizes nearly all his opponents. It’s safe to say Diaz has an advantage in BJJ, Henderson the nod in wrestling.
Henderson is an exciting, dynamic fighter who nonetheless has a woeful six decisions in his last six fights, including a loss to Anthony 'Showtime' Pettis back in 2010, where he took a highlight reel kick to the head. Although the champ has a lot of fans, many detractors feel his 2 wins over former champion Frankie 'The Answer' Edgar were iffy at best.
In his last three fights, Diaz has impressive finishes against Jim Miller and Takanori Gomi, and a remarkable decision win over Donald Cerrone, who many thought would overwhelm Diaz with an arsenal of stand-up weapons that rival Henderson’s.
Diaz’s excellent boxing will marginalize Henderson’s otherwise stupendous stand-up. Smooth will need to rely on his wrestling to overcome that deficit early in the fight. If he can manhandle Diaz with wrestling, while avoiding submissions on the ground, he can keep his belt, but this money is on Diaz winning via TKO in round 4, after goading the champ into a brawl.
Shogun versus The Mauler
Since winning the PRIDE middleweight Grand Prix in 2005, in which he was a heavy underdog, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua has held the UFC light heavyweight belt and won status as a legend in the sport. However, the Brazilian fighter was shit-kicked by current champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones in March, 2011, and looked too tired in his last two fights, a TKO win over Brandon Vera and a decision loss to Dan Henderson.
Swede Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson is 6’5”, and is very hard to reach when he chooses to take advantage of his wingspan. Reach disadvantage was a large part of Rua’s demise in his title fight loss to Jones. The Mauler recently defeated feared striker Thiago Silva, but only after a feeling out period in which he allowed the Brazilian inside far too often, so his lesson will be learned: use the reach God gave you and the footwork coach taught you.
Sadly, Rua’s tenure in mixed martial arts and the punishment he has endured as a result of his fighting style has cost him brain cells. The Mauler will take advantage of this. Rua, who often has a speed advantage at least early in a fight, before he tires, will not have one here. Gustafsson’s lightening fast shots from outside will cause the former champ to wither. Gustafsson via TKO set up by an uppercut that will begin its journey six feet from Rua's jaw bone.
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