Three marquee matchups are set for UFC on FOX 5, which takes place on December 8th at a venue to be determined. The card will be headlined by a UFC Lightweight Championship bout between “Smooth” Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. UFC officials announced the fight on Tuesday night.
Also confirmed for the card is a light heavyweight bout between former UFC 205-pound champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and fast-rising Swedish prospect Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson. In welterweight action, “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn returns to the Octagon to battle Rory “Ares” MacDonald.
Henderson (17-2-0) has won all five of his fights to date inside the Octagon and has tasted defeat only once in his past 16 fights. The former WEC champion and current UFC titleholder is coming off of back-to-back five-round wins over Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; the second of which took place this past weekend at UFC 150. Henderson was awarded a Split Decision win over Edgar, but the result was not without controversy and many observers felt that Edgar had done enough to win the fight. Henderson will now move on to face a new challenger in December as he takes part in only the second UFC title fight to be featured on FOX television.
Diaz (16-7-0) found himself in a tough spot in mid-2011 after an attempted run at welterweight was halted by back-to-back losses to Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim and Rory MacDonald. He dropped back down to 155 pounds and has since rattled off three of the most impressive victories of his career. After dominant victories over former PRIDE champ Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi and WEC and UFC contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Diaz became the first man to ever submit Jim Miller in MMA competition when the two faced off at UFC on FOX 3 in May. He now returns to the FOX network to compete in the main event in December, with Henderson’s title on the line.
Rua (21-6-0) has endured a rollercoaster of wins and losses since making his UFC debut in 2007, but he remains a top contender at 205 pounds. The Brazilian is coming off of a fourth-round stoppage of Brandon “The Truth” Vera in the main event of UFC on FOX 4 earlier this month and could get himself right back into the title hunt with a victory over Gustafsson (14-1-0) in December. Gustafsson has put together five straight wins since suffering his lone career loss to Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis at UFC 112 and is currently regarded as one of the top prospects in the light heavyweight division. The 25-year-old has only gone the distance twice in his pro career and has knocked out nine opponents to date. Should he get past Rua, Gustafsson could find himself challenging for UFC gold in 2013.
Penn (16-8-2) and MacDonald (13-1-0) were initially set to face off at UFC 152 next month, but a cut suffered in training forced MacDonald to withdraw and the bout will now take place on FOX television. Penn and MacDonald are expected to be enrolled in Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing leading up to the fight. Penn has not fought since announcing plans to retire in October and is 1-3-1 in his past five fights, but welcomed the challenge of MacDonald due to the Canadian’s association with past Penn rival Georges “Rush” St. Pierre. MacDonald has won three straight fights and is one of the top new stars in the welterweight division. He looks to take another step up the 170-pound ranks at the expense of former champion Penn later this year.
UFC on FOX 5 takes place on December 8th at a venue to be determined.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)