(Oh yeah, they’ll be plenty of this. And we definitely don’t mean the “thoughts” part.)
With a lineup that would challenge any UFC pay-per-view event in recent memory, UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz will come storming into your living rooms tomorrow night at 8 p.m. EST. You know what that means for tonight — some dudes are going to mean mug and possibly shove some other dudes that hopefully weigh-in at the same weight as the first dudes. Confused? Then join us after the jump and we’ll sort this all out for you, and make sure to swing by tomorrow at 8 p.m. to catch our liveblog of all the action!
UFC on Fox 5 is one of the most stacked cards of the entire year, and it’s free on network television. It contains a pseudo-grudge match between the only man in UFC history to hold the lightweight and welterweight titles, and a rising star who trains with his greatest rival. The co-main event sees a PRIDE legend and one-time UFC champ looking to reclaim his former glory in yet another epic war against a rising contender from a burgeoning MMA scene in Scandanavia. And in the main event, you have the two best lightweights in the world (besides Frankie Edgar) going head to head in the toughest division in the UFC. What more could you ask for?
Well, if the answer to that rhetorical question was “the most brilliant predictions/pre-fight analysis column ever,” then you are in luck, my friend! And because this card is so stacked, there will be not one, not two, not three, but…actually no, there will be three predictions. (Sorry Mike Swick and Matt Brown.) Logophobes, you’ve been warned.
The first of the big three fights on the card is the highly anticipated matchup between a returning BJ Penn and wunderkind Rory MacDonald. Penn’s seeking to reinforce his legacy as one of the best ever in the sport, and Rory’s been giving him even more motivation recently, claiming he’s coming to “hurt [Penn]” who he believes is “fighting for the wrong reasons.” Bold words, but MacDonald’s the type of fighter who’s capable of backing them up. He’s only lost once in his career — a TKO loss to Carlos Condit, in which he won the first two rounds before getting stopped in the waning seconds of the final round. But he holds wins over Nate Diaz and Mike Pyle, and aside from the former, all of MacDonald’s victories have come by stoppage.
It should be noted, though, that aside from Condit, Penn is a stronger fighter at this weight than any of the other fighters mentioned. He presents a greater knockout threat than any of them, has better wrestling, and has one of, if not the, best top games of any grappler in the UFC. However, Penn has historically been weak in the cardio department, particularly at welterweight. Even though he looks to be in excellent shape, he’s still carrying more weight than usual, and he’ll be forced to carry MacDonald’s weight as well. While Penn’s revamped his training camp, it’s unlikely he’ll have been able to fix a career-long deficiency, particularly after returning from “retirement.”
This may be the 5th installment of the UFC on FOX, but somehow it feels like the very first time the UFC will be showcased for the mass cable viewing audience. With a card that far and away surpasses any previous cable-accessible card in the sport’s history, FOX has dubbed this week “Fight Week” and rightfully so. Both parties seem to be maximizing their potential for UFC on FOX 5, but we’ll have to wait until Saturday to determine whether or not the key to success on network television is having both title fights with a solid supporting card and the steady promotion FOX has offered for this event in the days leading up to it.
With a 3-3 record over the past 6 UFC PPV’s, it’s time for The Gambling Addiction Enabler to sink or swim (or specifically, find ourselves at the bottom of the ocean with a fancy matching pair of cinder blocks for shoes). So Join us as we highlight some of the undercard and all the main card bouts in the hopes of bringing you Taters some early holiday funds. All the betting lines come courtesy of BestFightOdds, per usual.
Can you guys imagine what the MMA landscape will be like if Nate Diaz is able to defeat Ben Henderson on Saturday, thus becoming the lightweight champion? For starters, this article will be the first and last time you ever see the word “thus” in a sentence where the subject is a Diaz, but on the grander scale, just try and imagine the ways a Diaz with a belt will throw a wrench into the UFC’s plans. Interviews snippets will be so short and incoherent that MMA writers will be forced to resort to rambling, ludicrous conspiracy theories just to pass the time. And as for the brand-promoting public appearances that have become the standard for a champion? You can forget about those; we’re talking about a man who once tried to fight a fictional Brazilian character at a Jiu-Jitsu expo for Christ’s sake. If one fan even mentions the Maynard fight around Diaz in public, the UFC will probably have a full-scale riot on their hands.
If you would, just picture Nate Diaz at an anti-bullying seminar for a moment. After showing up 3 hours late and being reluctantly called to the stage, Diaz will deliver a one minute diatribe aimed at America’s “faggoty yoots“ who should “just like, yeah, I dunno” before calling out “that bitch Georges,” his eyes never lifting from the linoleum floor. When he is informed that he is in fact the lightweight champion and can’t fight GSP right now, Diaz will declare that he’s “done with this shit” before slapping that stupid ass hat off the school’s gym teacher on his way out the door. Simply put, it will be glorious.
(“Why must we have to wait until February for the next episode of The Walking Dead? WHY?!”)
If their backstories are any indication of how they will perform, then Rory MacDonald best prepare himself for hell against B.J. Penn come Saturday night. Not only is BJ looking to be in the best shape of his (welterweight) career, but the manner in which “The Prodigy” was portrayed in the UFC’s recent UFC on FOX 5 “Road to the Octagon” featurette has all but set him up for an epic career comeback. The “champion hoping to reignite legacy for family’s honor” angle has been played up plenty of times by similar countdowns, fight previews, or whathaveyous in the past, but very few cases have been as emotionally gut-wrenching as Penn’s.
The normally stoic Penn, whose daughter turned 4 around the time of the filming, revealed a completely unseen side of himself as he broke down in front of the cameras while describing how hard it has been to see his children grow up while he has been away fighting to secure their future (14:25). Credit is due to the editing department for brilliantly juxtaposing Penn’s fatherly plight (but did they have to have impose BJ’s breakdown over the Happy Birthday song for his daughter? TOO MUCH EMOTIONS DAMN YOU) with that of MacDonald’s, who admits that his own father wasn’t around much during his childhood. Nice try, Rory, but you are now the Max Bear to Penn’s James Braddock and we will root against you until Penn breathes his final breath. ATTICA! ATTICA!!
Anyway, a full replay of the special is after the jump, and it features an equally compelling handling of the Gustafsson/Rua and Henderson/Diaz fights, so check it out, won’t you?
Everybody gather around and break out your tinfoil hats, because it’s conspiracy time.
The above clip comes to us courtesy of Inside MMA, who recently held interviews with both the lightweight number one contender Nate Diaz and coach Cesar Gracie, who is beginning to sound like little more than an omnipresent entity whose soul (get it? SOUL? I should really be getting paid more for this gold) reason for existence is to echo whatever a Diaz brother manages to mumble out between bong rips.
From what we could decipher, it appears that both Nate and Cesar have finally caught on to the longest running screwjob in MMA history: The judges vs. The brothers Diaz. Gracie was able to see through the bullshit and was the first to bring this to light, stating:
I’ve never really seen a close decision where the nod was given to the Diaz’s. If it’s close, they’re going to lose. I don’t know why, maybe the judges don’t really care for them that much; they’re brash.
While we were initially content to play Team Cesar Gracie a song on the world’s smallest violin, upon doing a little research (I KNOW RIGHT), we actually stumbled across a plot so thick and intricate that not even Nicolas Cage could unravel it in a series of increasingly shitty kids movies, so join us after the jump if you think your puny Earthling brains can handle it.
(When Marcus Davis says he’s going to be Sloth for Halloween, Marcus Davis IS Sloth for Halloween.)
Before Nate Diaz decided to put the Funyuns aside and start making a serious run at the 155 lb title, he floated between the welterweight and lightweight divisions for the majority of his UFC career with mixed results. However, his greatest performance at 170 came at UFC 118, where Diaz faced off against Irish-American powerhouse Marcus Davis. Known for his Angel of Death right hand, Davis was fresh off a TKO victory over the UFC’s favorite narcoleptic French Canadian, Jonathan Goulet, at UFC 114, and planned to do the same with Nate. But as Rory Markham and Melvin Guillard should have informed him, one-punch knockout power stands no chance against the iron chin and hailstorm of pitter-patter punches that constitute a Diaz beating.
The fight was classic Diaz — taunting within the first 30 seconds of the fight, getting rocked yet continuing to taunt upon recovery, breaking their opponents will until they finally give up — and received Fight of the Night honors when all was said and done. While we can assume that Nate blew the extra cash on beluga caviar and front row tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Davis undoubtedly spent his hiring Thedus’ finest doctor to remove the baby alien that Diaz had somehow implanted in his right eyeball.
(Henderson, seen here making Shane Roller rapidly consider cutting to featherweight at WEC 40.)
No, we are not jumping on the Nate Diaz bandwagon. Not yet, at least.
In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, current UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson resentfully admitted something that no athlete is ever quick to declare: He ain’t getting any younger. And because of this, it is getting harder and harder for a massive lightweight such as “Smooth” to make the required cut for each of his title defenses. How much weight does he cut? Henderson didn’t reveal the exact number, but several close sources claimed that the lightweight champ normally resides around the 180-pound mark often up to just a few days out from fight night. It’s a massive, draining cut for any athlete to undergo, and as we’ve seen in the past, can have devastating effects on the human body. Henderson is no different, and acknowledged that he has struggled to deal with the cut as he has gotten older:
When I was in college and wrestling, I would wrestle all day long and not get tired. I remember wrestling hard for five hours – literally five hours hard – and be just fine. I would eat friggin’ Taco Bell, be fine, and wrestle again.
I’m growing, but as far as maturing and getting thicker, I think I’m getting older right now, and it’s getting harder for me to lose the weight … and it’s harder for me to keep the weight off.
Henderson’s UFC on FOX 5 opponent, Nate Diaz, is no stranger to the difficulty of weight cutting, having moved up to welterweight to fight on several occasions but finding much less success there. The same could be argued for Henderson, who stands at a mere 5 foot 9 and would hold a distinct size disadvantage were he to move up in weight. But according to Henderson, it is only a matter of time until the choice is no longer an option.
(“Cowboy” Cerrone and his travel guide Filipe found more than just solace in the caves of Mount Grenidor; they found each other.)
You may or may not be aware of this, but before the UFC decided to go the route of champ vs. troll, they actually had a coaching matchup in the works for TUF 17 that would have both made sense and likely been ignored by most of the population. That matchup was between streaking lightweight contender Donald Cerrone and former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, two 155ers who are due for a title shot and trulydespise one another. Unfortunately for them, the UFC decided to take things in a different direction. Fortunately for them, it appears as if they are still destined to throw down in the near future, because according to Cerrone in an interview with the appropriately titled MMAInterviews, half of the contract has already been signed.
I’m looking forward to that fight. Hopefully December we’re gonna get it, beginning of January. My side of the deal is signed. (I’m) just waiting on him while his shoulder is rehabbed. There’s been a lot of shit talking back and forth, so it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be for the fans. I think it’s gonna be Fight of the Night for sure. He’s well-rounded. I think my wrestling is better than his but if we go to the ground he’s good on the ground, if we stay standing he’s good there. It’s gonna be a helluva fight. I’m packing a lunch. I’m ready for three rounds of hell. I’ll fight him on an undercard, I don’t care.
As you know, Pettis has been out of action since his beatdown of Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 mending multiple injuries, and just recently injured his shoulder in training, which likely affected the UFC’s decision to go with Bones vs. Sonnen. So the likelihood of this matchup taking place in 2012 is a longshot, but a headlining fight on a FOX or FX event in late January? Hell to the yes, Potato Nation.
Taking an in-depth look into the training and general fight philosophies of the UFC’s biggest stars, The NOC’s “Training Days” series is back, this time profiling UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson as he prepares to prepare to defend his belt for the second time against Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5 in December. You read that correctly.
After scoring a pair of hotly contested wins over former champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 and 150, Henderson takes us through his daily training regimen at his gym in Glendale, Arizona. Not yet in full-on “training for Nate” mode, parts one and two give us a look at the intense shadow boxing sessions that Bendo begins each workout with. It’s not exactly the most thrilling routine in the world, but it does give you an idea at the amount of preparation that goes into the average training session of a UFC champion. Hell, you could even put these techniques to practice the next time you find yourself caught in a Taiwanese cage fight with a raged out Billy Blanks.
Part one is above. Check out part two after the jump.