(Sometimes I look at Nate Diaz and think, “y’know, there’s a guy who probably hasn’t heard the Good News about Jesus Christ.” / Photo via CombatLifestyle. For more photos from this set, click here.)
Old legends and young lions. Guys with angel wings on their backs and guys with middle fingers in your face. Hot-headed blood lickers, and reasonable folks who understand the health risks of such behavior. It’s UFC on FOX 5 — a card so good that you don’t even need lazy storylines to sell it.
Running our “Henderson vs. Diaz” liveblog is New Jersey Martial Arts Hall of Fame inducteeJim Genia(congrats Jim!), who will be throwin’ down live results from the FOX main card after the jump beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and toss your own thoughts and observations in the comments section.
(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.
In one corner, you have the UFC with a stacked card, but still struggling to live up to the hype as far as ratings go. In the other corner, you have boxing, the aging champ of combat sports. While struggling to stay relevant, it is still a dominant force with two bankable stars who won’t fight each other.
It is no mistake that the UFC has put together a PPV-worthy card to be aired free to the masses. You’ve got a title fight in what is arguably the most competitive weight class in the sport. You also have two legends of MMA taking on two young up-and-comers taking on the sport by storm. Come to think of it, the Penn vs. McDonald and Rua vs. Gustafsson fights are perfect analogies of what MMA is to boxing right now.
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.
As was the case for BJ Penn, it appears that Shogun has whipped himself into damn near the best shape we have ever seen him in for his upcoming fight with Alexander Gustafsson. And it’s surprisingly appropriate; both Rua and Penn are aging legends looking to make one last run at a title shot, and both men must get past two highly-touted young bucks in order to do so. And no one wants to show up out of shape on the same network that airs The Choice. A loss is a loss, but having Pauly D mock your love handles with a laser pointer is a punishment no person on this earth deserves.
Although Shogun has been given a slightly better chance of pulling off the upset than Penn, both men are considerable underdogs heading into Saturday’s event, so make sure to swing by CP at 8 p.m. EST to see if these two will rise from the ashes or go down in flames. And if you’re in the Boston/Dorchester area, hit up either Karma or myself on Twitter to see which dive bar we’ll be catching the fights from and come join us. We apologize in advance for getting you thrown out of said dive bar, but that bouncer was totally giving one of us the stink eye.
(“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?
“Less than a week out from his backyard bout, Seattle’s Michael Chiesa has been forced to withdraw from UFC on FOX due to illness. The TUF Live season winner had been first slated to fight Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Rafaello ‘Tractor’ Oliveira, then lightweight Marcus LeVesseur when Oliveira was injured,” UFC.com reported.
The particular illness was not disclosed but one imagines that Chiesa would have to be awfully jacked-up to pull out of such a huge fight for himself. It would have been Chiesa’s first UFC bout since winning TUF Live at the series’ finale show last June, and he would have been fighting in front of his hometown fans in Seattle, on a FX-televised platform before a monster FOX event.
Skip to the 1:45 mark for Dana’s appearance. Props to reader Alan K for the video.
While the rest of you were watching football today (the American version, aka the one worth watching *chugs beer, initiates U-S-A! chant*), you may have noticed a familiar face in this week’s edition of Riggle’s Picks. No, it wasn’t one of us. It was UFC President Dana White, satirizing “Exclusive Access” sports websites alongside Rob Riggle.
Riggle hits all the standard punchlines about these types: Improbable rumors, Rex Ryan is a fat mess, that these sites are only in it for the money, Richard Simmons, the webmasters live with their mothers, Jewish guilt- you know the drill by now. But Dana White steals the show with his masterful performance as a homeless drunk, who serves as an incarnation of “Guy who can’t possibly have inside information spreading outlandish rumors that only internet trolls are dumb enough to believe.”