10 Things You Should Know Heading Into UFC on Fox 5
It's fight week, and Fight Day is here with the 10 things you need to know before the cage door closes this weekend at the KeyArena in Seattle for "UFC On FOX 5."
1. Benson Henderson is 6-1 in title fights over his Zuffa career
Henderson rose to prominence during his time in the WEC. He won the interim title against Donald Cerrone at WEC 43 and defended it twice, once against Jamie Varner to unify the titles and again against Cerrone. But in the final event of the promotion's history, WEC 53, Anthony Pettis dethroned the champion with a unanimous decision win.
The loss weakened Henderson's momentum heading into the UFC, but he quickly gained it back by fighting his way into a title fight against Frankie Edgar. At UFC 144 he earned a narrow unanimous decision win, and the two met again in August. In an even closer fight, Henderson edged out a split-decision nod from the judges.
2. Nate Diaz looks to become fourth "Ultimate Fighter" winner to win a UFC title
"The Ultimate Fighter: Season 5" winner Diaz almost certainly doesn't care about the fact that he could become the fourth winner of the reality series to earn a title, but it's worth noting. Forrest Griffin, Matt Serra, and Rashad Evans are the other three to do it, though none had much success as a champion. In fact, none of those three were able to defend their titles even once. Diaz looks to join the class of TUF winners turned champions on Saturday night against Henderson. He probably is looking to defend the title a few times if he should win it.
3. The eight main card fighters are all unbeaten in 2012
The main card broadcasts on FOX this Saturday, and the amount of talent is fairly astonishing, especially for an event not scheduled for pay-per-view. The eight main card competitors are a combined 10-0 in 2012. That's a fairly significant difference from their combined records in 2011, though they also combined for 19 fights as opposed to 10. Last year, they combined to go 12-6-1.
Furthermore, nine of the 14 preliminary card fighters are without a loss this year.
4. Matt Brown has the opportunity to go 4-0 in 2012
Throughout his first 23 professional fights, Matt Brown was anything but consistent, but there may be no better word to describe his evolution this year. Brown is a perfect 3-0 with wins over Chris Cope, Stephen Thompson, and Luis Ramos. And while those names aren't really in the same league as Mike Swick, the fighter Brown meets this weekend, the opportunity to build the longest winning streak of his career should be enough from Brown to head into the event motivated.
Perhaps more importantly, Brown's best year of his career provides him with job security. Prior to the three-fight winning streak, he had lost four of five and looked to be heading out the door.
5. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has not won consecutive fights since 2009
"Shogun" is a legend in mixed martial arts, thanks mostly to his PRIDE days. His UFC career, unfortunately, has been rather pedestrian, though, to his credit, the Brazilian striker has fought some of the promotion's top talents. Still, at 5-4 in the UFC, he has won back-to-back fights just once. In 2009, he defeated Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman. Since then? He's an even 3-3, including his most recent win against Brandon Vera this past August. The trend certainly doesn't look great as he heads into a co-main event clash with the fast-rising Gustafsson.
6. B.J. Penn has won just once in his past five fights
He's a legend and future UFC Hall of Famer, but Penn just hasn't found success in the past three years. The lone bright spot? A knockout win over Matt Hughes at UFC 123. That win, however, is sandwiched in between consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar, which came before the victory, and a draw with Jon Fitch and a loss to Nick Diaz, which came after. The streak is far and away the worst of Penn's career, and if he drops this fight to MacDonald, it could mean retirement. Or the real B.J. Penn will show up. Who really knows?
7. Two preliminary card fights were cancelled within the past week
Dana White and company have to be used to it by now, but the injury bug continues to bite the UFC. And it apparently doesn't matter how close to Fight Night we come. Within the past week a lightweight fight between Mike Chiesa and Marcus Levesseur and a heavyweight fight featuring sluggers Brendan Schaub and Lavar Johnson were pulled from the card. Johnson was forced out of his bout due to a groin injury, while Chiesa fell ill this week. Neither LeVesseur, nor Schaub will compete Saturday due to the late changes.
8. Bantamweight Mike Easton on eight-fight winning streak, edging on contention
Easton may not be fighting Raphael Assuncao on the main card of "UFC on FOX 5," but that doesn't mean contention is far off. In the midst of an eight-fight winning streak, Easton has stormed onto the scene since joining the UFC last October with a vicious technical knockout win over Byron Bloodworth. He followed that up with a pair of decision victories. A win over Assuncao is not going to earn him a shot at the title, but it should put him into the next tier of the division. Furthermore, with champion Dominick Cruz still recovering, there is sure to be a scramble for the bantamweights to get a crack at Renan Barao's interim title.
9. Alexander Gustafsson on five-fight winning streak, inching closer to champion Jones
While Easton looks to make his way to the top tier of bantamweights on Saturday, light heavyweight Gustafsson is already a candidate for a title shot against champion Jon Jones. Gustafsson has won five straight fights and is 14-1 as a professional. A longtime top prospect, he arrived in recent years, and his unanimous decision win over Thiago Silva this past April only helped drive him forward on his quest for the title. Jones is currently set to face Chael Sonnen next, and other contenders such as Dan Henderson are still aching for a shot at the champ, but Jones has defeated the vast majority of the division's top contenders already. A fresh face would be nice for Jones, and with a win over "Shogun" Rua this weekend, Gustafsson might just be the next top contender.
10. UFC On FOX 5 marks the promotion's second visit to Seattle
With countless events held in Las Vegas each year, coupled with the international growth of the UFC, it has to be a treat when they come to your city. Seattle, this weekend is your weekend to catch all the action in person. The promotion has visited the city just twice, including this weekend's events and festivities. The last visit to KeyArena took place in 2011 for "UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis."
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