This year has been marked by injuries, fighter replacements and cancellations. With the deck stacked against it, the UFC is eagerly finishing 2012 with its most impressive fight cards still yet to come. At the top of that list is the UFC on Fox 5 card taking place Saturday in Seattle at Key Arena.
I could — more importantly would — discuss every fight on the UFC on Fox 5 card. I’ve decided, however, to break down three fights and give my picks to win. The three fights are Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn, Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson and UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz for the lightweight championship title.
Let’s get to the fight picks, fight people!
Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn
This fight can be described simply as the “One Upper.” If you’re unfamiliar with that term let me break it down quickly. The “One Upper” is an individual who has a similar experience, idea or story that always seems to top yours in every aspect.
Enter MacDonald vs. Penn. This fight has overshadowed every bout on the UFC on Fox 5 card and for good reason. It’s the most intriguing. Penn is coming out of retirement and coming off a decisive loss to welterweight contender Nick Diaz. MacDonald — on the other hand — is riding an impressive three-fight win streak and climbing the welterweight ranks.
The breakdown is simple. Both fighters are well-rounded, exceptional athletes. Both have shown glimpses of brilliance. Penn, in the past, has reigned supreme in both the lightweight and welterweight division while MacDonald is climbing through the welterweight ranks faster than a hiker being chased by a brown bear. It boils down to who has the most to lose. Enough said, let’s get to the pick.
I’m picking Penn to defeat MacDonald via TKO.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua
vs. Alexander Gustafsson
It’s not the fact that Gustafsson is the same size as light heavyweight champion Jon Jones — who destroyed Rua in their championship fight — it really boils down to Shogun having more miles on his body then U.S. Interstate 5 (which happens to run right through Seattle).
Now, the “young dinosaur” (Shogun) must take on the “young lion” (Gustafsson) in a light heavyweight bout that could, possibly, determine who’s next in line for a light heavyweight title shot. Although I believe in Rua’s heart, I’m not as convinced about his conditioning. He’s as conditioned as an English Bulldog and looks like the walking dead after the first round. I have to give an edge to Gustafsson. His length, size and youth will be the difference in this fight.
I’m picking Gustafsson to defeat Shogun via TKO.
Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
If one was listening, solely, to the mixed martial arts media then one would have no idea that the actual main event for the UFC on Fox 5 card is a lightweight title fight pitting current champion Benson Henderson against Stockton, Calif., bad boy Nate Diaz. Although this fight has main event status, it also has all the ingredients for a “Fight of the Night” award.
If you’ve ever wondered what a guy with a chip on his shoulder looked, acted and responded like, look no further than UFC lightweight contender Nate Diaz. His toughness, stamina, crisp boxing and superb jiu-jitsu — courtesy of jiu-jitsu specialist Cesar Gracie — provide the perfect stylistic matchup for the champion.
Henderson, on the other hand, is powerful, precise and adaptable. His fights with lightweight contenders Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar have shown those traits to be true.
At last, I must make a decision regarding this fight’s outcome.
I’m picking Henderson to defeat Diaz via decision.
To find out whether I’m a MMA genius or perhaps just down on my luck, check out the UFC on Fox 5 this Saturday starting at 4 p.m. AST on Facebook.
If you want to tell me your UFC on Fox 5 picks or just give me a hard time about mine, comment below or find me on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @scottlevesque.
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.