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UFC On Fox 5 Preview – Nate Diaz Vs. Benson Henderson

Via enlapelea.com

We’ve done a lot of audio on this show.

On Wednesday, I did a podcast with Heidi Fang from MMA Fight Corner and we went over the entire main card. We also had a pretty timely discussion about Ronda Rousey which is newsworthy because Dana White announced Rousey’s first UFC fight yesterday.

Also, Jason (@dadrrtywhyteboi) and talked up the show as well.

And now for the blog preview …

We’re giving our predictions on the entire main card. In addition to Team FGB, joining us with their predictions are Stevie J from Angry Marks, friend of the website JP, Ryan Pike from Tough Talk MMA and Heidi Fang from MMA Fight Corner.

Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick

Stevie J says: Brown by 2nd round TKO
Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown is going to beat Swick. He’s won 4 out of his last 5, and two of the most recent 3 were by TKO. Swick has a record of losing any time he’s in the spotlight. He fought Chris Leben for a title and lost. He fought Dan Hardy for a title shot and lost. And now he’s not just losing important fights – he lost to Paulo Thiago when nothing was on the line, and Thiago’s such a mess he’s lost 4 out of HIS last 5. I know Brown has a wishy-washy MMA record, but he’s a stand-up fighter with power, and if Swick tries to go tit-for-tat with him (and I think he will) he’ll lose – BADLY.

GG says: Swick by 2nd round submission
I think this will be a great opener. Both guys will come out swinging in hopes of getting an early finish. I think it comes down to Matt Brown’s submission defense. While he’s won his last three fights, his previous four losses all came by submission. I think we’re seeing the return of the Swick-a-tine.

BJ Penn vs. Rory MacDonald

JP says: MacDonald by decision
I was eager to write the preview for this fight because I think it is actually the most important match-up on the card. In a very real way, the UFC needs this fight to go a certain way; and that way is a victory for Rory MacDonald. One of the major issues facing the UFC currently is a lack of stars. Brock is gone; Anderson is old; Jon Jones seems more like a heel than a fan favorite at this point. Only GSP seems truly marketable for the future.

Rory could be a star. He is in a marquee weight class, immensely talented and very young. A victory over an old guard member in BJ Penn would be huge for all parties involved not named Penn. And MacDonald should win. Over the last few years, ever since his defeats to Edgar, Penn has seemed less and less imposing. His ground game is no longer the black hole it once was and his boxing isn’t as crisp. Look for for MacDonald to use his superior size and strength to keep it standing, and batter Penn around for three rounds. Too tough still to finish, MacDonald walks away 30-27 victor.

Duan says: Penn by decision
By all rights, MacDonald should really win this fight. Penn is fading, fighting above his weight, and holds only one victory from his last five. I have been ready to write him off all week, but now that it’s come down to the wire, I have done a full 180. You know what? I like BJ Penn in this match up. I reckon he still knows that bit too much for MacDonald at this stage of his career.

I favour Penn to win out in the stand up, and even at welter, the guy is a nightmare to maneuver around the cage. I can’t see MacDonald being able to dictate the fight in that way. Georges St. Pierre was able to do it, but I don’t think Rory is quite GSP. At least not yet anyway. And yes, Penn lost to Diaz and drew with Fitch too, but those were both fights he was well and truly in. Would you honestly pick MacDonald to do better against either guy?

For me, as long as this fight is on the feet, Penn is winning. If he goes down, I don’t think he will get trapped there. I expect he takes the first, shades the second and drops the third – edging a close but clear decision.

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Shogun Rua

Heidi says: Gustafsson by decision
Gustafsson’s got great striking and a long range to accompany it. He can submit guys and knock ’em out. He retired Matt Hamill. Rua is coming off a win vs Brandon Vera but The Mauler may be the hungriest man alive who wants a shot at the 205 title. Gustafsson’s never been knocked out. He proved he can go the distance if he has to against Thiago Silva – which he’ll need because I don’t think Shogun will just suddenly stop being tough as nails. This is another old lion/young lion fight and despite Rua’s resume, I have to give this one to Gustafsson. He’s too hungry, wants the belt, he’s literally a sleeping giant.

Ryan says: Rua by 2nd round TKO
It’s the new guard versus the old as Shogun and Alexander Gustafsson clash. On paper, this is a very interesting match-up. Gustafsson has a tremendous record, but hasn’t fought anybody truly great. Shogun? His record is middling in the UFC, but he’s fought all the best. And outside of his injury-plagued debut against Forrest Griffin, he’s been excellent. Can Gustafsson handle the pressure of fighting a legend? No worries exist about if Shogun can, as that’s what he’s been doing for years. Shogun gets the edge here.

Nate Diaz vs. Benson Henderson

Alan says: Henderson by decision
This is another pick ’em title fight in a division that has nothing but pick ’em title fights. For me there’s a way Nate wins and a way Benson wins. If Diaz can frustrate the champ with his jab and his long range, he could easily take this. If Benson can impose his superior muscle, strength and athleticism, he could easily make this a frustrating fight for Diaz. To me, the latter seems a bit liklier. Henderson is a beast and as wily and skillful as the challenger is. I’m not sure if Diaz will be able to handle what is thrown his way here. I think Henderson is a competent striker and will do what he needs to work past the reach and the frustrating elements of Diaz’s game.

Cactus Jim says: Henderson by decision
This is a really tough fight for me to call. If you use MMA math, it should be a fairly easy win for Diaz considering how much more dominant he was in his wins against the likes of Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller compared to Henderson’s performance in his wins against each of these fighters. While Henderson did pick up a W in his decision over Clay Guida and Diaz ended up in the L column, both of these were very close fights. But we all know that when picking fights, MMA math is almost as reliable as Lindsey Lohan as a designated driver.

Diaz comes in with both a height and a 6-inch reach advantage. Given that he often chooses to stand on the outside and pick apart his opponent and gradually breaking them, this advantage plays in his favor. Nate also has solid takedown defense and in instances where a strong wrestler has been able to get him down, he has proven to be active off his back working for submissions. In my opinion, if Nate can keep this on the feet he has a chance to win this fight, but Henderson’s explosive style, strong wrestling, and solid ground game will likely prove to be frustrating for Diaz. I believe Henderson will use his leg kicks to keep Nate at bay and when the opportunity presents itself, he will drag Diaz to the ground and although I don’t see Benson being able to finish Diaz, I do see him being able to control and stifle Nate on the ground. Decisions have not been kind to Nate Diaz and I think this fight will not be the exception. Henderson takes this one in a manner not unlike that of GSP versus Condit.

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