The UFC has had a very tough year in 2012. It has dealt with injury after injury and even saw the first UFC event cancelled since Dana White took over in 2002.
Luckily, for Dana White and the UFC the card this Saturday night on FOX is stacked, Pamela Anderson stacked.
UFC on FOX 5 features a highly anticpated lightweight title bout, a significant fight in the light heavyweight division and a legend taking on the next great prospect in the UFC.
This doesn't even include a match-up that could steal "Fight of the Night" honors in the opening fight on Saturday night.
Mike Swick (15-4, 10-3 UFC) vs. Matt Brown (15-11, 8-5 UFC)
This is the perfect fight to start the telecast for FOX. Mike Swick started off the last FOX card and ended up taking home the "Knockout of the Night" bonus that set the tone for the rest of the main card.
Swick was on the shelf for nearly three years after suffering from stomach ailments and a torn ACL. I think it is safe to say Mike "Quick" Swick is back at 100%. He was one of the best fighters in the UFC when he was healthy, and he is finally healthy again.
The scary thing for the rest of the welterweight division is we have not seen the best Mike Swick yet.
Matt "The Immortal" Brown is hoping to end whatever momentum Swick has. Brown is one of the scrappiest fighters in the organization. Everyone was claiming Stephen Thompson as the next great thing in the welterweight division. Thompson entered the octagon a perfect 6-0, coming off an impressive KO head-kick victory, and had never tasted defeat in his 63 kick-boxing appearances.
Too bad he ran into Matt Brown. Brown dominated the fight and forced Thompson out of his comfort zone all night. It was the best fight of Brown's career.
"The Immortal" has reeled off three straight victories inside the octagon, two of them coming by TKO. He has his hands full against Mike Swick, but expect this to be a very entertaining fight.
This fight will go back and forth as both men will try and go toe-to-toe. Swick has an excellent ground game that is extremely underrated. Brown is one tough dude but he is running into one bad man on the other side. I like Swick in this fight because he is a better all-around mixed martial artists.
PREDICTION: MIKE SWICK def. MATT BROWN (2nd rd. REAR-NAKED CHOKE)
BJ Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2 UFC) vs. Rory MacDonald (13-1, 4-1 UFC)
This is the new breed vs. the old breed. Rory MacDonald is the next great mixed martial artists and BJ Penn is searching for his first win inside the octagon since November, 2010. If Penn loses this fight in an ugly way, it will most likely be the last time we see one of the best mixed martial artists inside the octagon.
Penn recently retired after Nick Diaz dismantled him for three rounds. He announced his retirement right after the fight, which was an emotional decision. I don't think anyone took his retirement seriously. However, if he isn't ready this Saturday night, expect him to retire for real this time around.
The guy is a legend, but it's always a matter of what if with Penn. He could have been the best mixed martial artist of all-time. He even admits he could have worked harder. This could be the fight where he shows how good he really could have been by taking out the hottest prospect since Jon Jones. The significant advantage for Penn heading into this fight is he has fought in big-time fights throughout his career. (11 UFC-title fights in his career.)
However, Penn's only win inside the octagon since 2010 has come against Matt Hughes and has gone 1-3-1 in his last five fights.
Rory MacDonald is the real deal. The kid is an absolute monster at 170-pounds. Just ask Nate Diaz, who scattered to the lightweight division after MacDonald threw him around like a rag doll for fifteen minutes.
He enters Saturday night with only one blemish on his record, a TKO defeat to Carlos Condit. A fight MacDonald was winning until Condit got the TKO with less than one-minute left in the third round. The loss was the best thing for MacDonald. It showed him he is ready to hang with the big boys and he just got caught by one of the best fighters in the UFC. The loss fueled him to become even better, something he has displayed in his last three fights.
He has reeled off three straight wins since he lone defeat. He ran through Che Mills, Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz with ease.
MacDonald trains with one of the best camps in the world: Tristar Gym. The one thing I love about this gym is they are truly a family. These guys do everything together and have a bond that most gyms don't have. He will be ready for the best B.J. Penn on Saturday night.
Expect to see the best Rory MacDonald we have ever seen on Saturday night. It is scary how high the ceiling is for the young Canadian. MacDonald will dominate Penn in this fight and expect him to continually put the former champ on his back all night. B.J. Penn will hang em' up after this fight.
PREDICTION: RORY MACDONALD def. BJ PENN (1st rd. TKO via GROUND & POUND)
Alexander Gustafsson (14-1, 6-1 UFC) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-6, 5-4 UFC)
This fight should be full of fireworks. The winner of this fight puts themself right into title contention. A lot of MMA fans want to see Gustafsson get the next crack at Jon Jones belt. He is the one fighter in the light heavyweight division that can actually match-up with Jones long reach.
Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson has been on a roll since his lone defeat in his MMA career. Phil Davis submitted Gustafsson back in December, 2010. "The Mauler" has won five five fights in a row but he is taking a huge step up in competition on Saturday night.
Shogun Rua has never met the high expectations he had once coming over from Pride. Okay, I know he won the light heavyweight belt, but he didn't defend it one time. He is 5-4 inside the octagon, and was 16-2 before coming to the UFC. Shogun has had a two-fight win streak in the UFC once, and that was against two aging fighters: Chuck Liddell & Mark Coleman.
However, Rua is one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the business and is capable of knocking out anyone that steps in front of him. Of his 21 victories, 18 are knockouts. All five of his UFC wins are via knockout.
Shogun is always a dangerous fighter so you can never count him out.
Gustafsson presents a ton of problems for Rua. His reach will be a deciding factor. He is an outstanding technical striker and his quickness will be the attribute that earns him this fight.
PREDICTION: ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON def. SHOGUN RUA (UNANIMOUS DEC.)
Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson (17-2, 5-0 UFC) vs. Nate Diaz (16-7, 11-5 UFC)
This fight has a chance to be "Fight of the Year." Nate Diaz always comes to fight. Ben Henderson is the defending lightweight champion. Neither one of these guys know what a boring fight is.
Ben Henderson is a perfect 5-0 inside the octagon. He wanted everyone to forget about the "Kick Heard Around the World" and he knew there was only one way to do that: "Just Win Baby."
He has beat some very tough competition to start his UFC career. Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar (2X) all lost via decision to Henderson.
Henderson is arguably the biggest lightweight to ever step inside the octagon. He always enters the cage way bigger than his opponent. While he is way bigger you would think he would be slower than his opponents, but the scary thing is he might be quicker. He is one of the best athletes in the UFC, and his legs are built like an NFL running back. The guy is one of the best all-around mixed martial artists in the world and doesn't have any significant weaknesses. He has only lost one time in the last five years, and continues to improve on a fight-to-fight basis.
Nate Diaz enters the octagon on a three-fight win streak. Moving back down to the lightweight division was the smartest decision Diaz could have made. He hasn't lost since. His three straight wins were against very good competition. He dominated Takinori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller to earn his title shot against Ben Henderson. Against Cerrone, Diaz showed how much his boxing has improved. He landed 82% of his strikes, 258 out of 314 and landed a UFC record (in a three-round fight) 238 significant strikes.
The scary thing about Diaz is his jiu-jitsu is even better than his boxing. I don't know if any fighter has matured and improved as much as Diaz has over the last two years. Diaz enters this Saturday with a ton of momentum as he tries to become the first fighter among the "Cesar Gracie Fight Team" to bring home a UFC belt.
This fight will be the "Fight of the Night" and could possibly be the "Fight of the Year" in 2012. Expect both of these guys to go toe-to-toe for five full rounds. I don't see this fight ending and it will come down to the judges. The Diaz brothers have had trouble going to the judge's scorecards inside the octagon. They are a combined 3-10 when it goes to the judges.
With that being said I think Diaz's reach and boxing will be too much for Henderson. He will do enough work on the feet to take home the UFC lightweight belt. His ground game is off the charts so Henderson might decide to keep this fight on the feet. If he takes it to the ground Diaz is very aggressive off his back and could easily sink in a submission.
Expect a back and forth war for 25-minutes. The bad luck Nate Diaz has had with judge's will come to a halt on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: NATE DIAZ def. BENSON HENDERSON (SPLIT DECISION)
Get your popcorn ready for an exciting night of fights, and the best part it's free on Fox starting at 8 PM ET. Don't forget to watch the prelims on FX (5 PM ET) that feature: Jeremy Stephens, Yves Edwards, Mike Easton, Raphael Assuncao, Dennis Siver, Nam Phan and Tim Means.
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