MMA Review: #398: UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz

-After the previous Fox show did pretty shoddy ratings despite having the semi-star power of Machida, Shogun, Bader and Vera (guys who had all main evented or co-main evented PPVs previously), Zuffa decided to pull out all the stops for this one, pushing a heavier advertising campaign, giving the show a title match as its main event (Henderson vs. Diaz for the Lightweight Title) AND bringing back BJ Penn from temporary retirement to take on rising star Rory MacDonald. On paper then, this was the best Fox card so far and one of the best cards of 2012 period.

UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz

Seattle, Washington

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. Rogan calls the four fights all incredible and he’d be right.

Welterweight Fight: Matt Brown vs Mike Swick

This was pretty much a guaranteed action fight on paper, as while Swick has had a couple of stinkers in his time, Brown literally guarantees a WAR every time he steps in there, win, lose or draw. Which is why, on a side note, he’s still employed by Zuffa despite a so-so record. Other undercard fighters take note. Anyway, he was looking to a bit of a hot streak after winning three in a row in 2012 to this point, while Swick was looking to follow up his big comeback win over Damarques Johnson on the previous Fox card. My money was on Swick personally. And on a side note the Fox video packages pre-fight detailing the background of the fighters (Brown is a former heroin addict) are FANTASTIC and really put everyone over.

Fight begins and they circle with both men looking to gauge the distance. Brown wades in with punches, but Swick quickly gets out of the way. Good right hand from Brown catches Swick coming in and he follows with a glancing one-two, but Swick seems fine. Takedown attempt is avoided by Brown. One-two lands for Swick. Takedown attempt by Brown and he gets it, and then grabs a guillotine as Swick looks to scramble up. He looks to transition into a D’Arce, and it looks sunk, with Brown rolling into guard to attempt to finish. This looks tight actually – Swick might be in trouble. He stays calm though and finally Brown’s arms burn out and he has to release. Brown ties him up from the guard now to prevent some ground-and-pound, and all Swick can get through with is a couple of short hammer fists. Triangle attempt from Brown is shrugged off. Swick looks to work free of the guard, but winds up caught in a triangle and Brown grabs the leg for good measure to break his base down. Swick tries to use his own legs to force Brown into an awkward posture, but he’s still locked in the triangle. It looks looser now though and Swick has room to get the blood to his head. Rogan’s commentary on this is FANTASTIC by the way, and if you didn’t know what you were watching it’d be a ton of help. Finally Swick breaks free and grabs a guillotine in a scramble, but Brown gets out and they get to their feet where Brown lands a combo. Swick clinches and that’s the round. Great round. 10-9 Brown.

Second round and Swick comes out circling and just avoids a head kick. Combo is blocked by Brown. Big elbow from Brown as he comes forward but Swick clinches and forces him into the fence. They break off when nothing really happens, and Swick grabs a plum clinch to deliver some knees as Brown pushes forward. Back into the clinch now and they exchange knees to the body before Brown breaks with an elbow and a right. Swick clinches again and looks to get a single leg, then decides against it and breaks with a right hand. They circle without really landing anything, but Swick for some reason looks a little wobbly on his feet, and sure enough Brown capitalizes with a HUGE LEFT-RIGHT THAT KNOCKS HIM SILLY!~!

Good lord that was a nasty KO. Swick was DONE before he even hit the ground. Not sure what actually had Swick wobbled – Brown must’ve caught him with something in the clinch that went un-noticed – but regardless, the finish was absolutely perfect, two shots right on the jaw that just turned out the lights. Wildly, this would be Brown’s fourth UFC win of 2012, making him the fighter with the most wins in the year! For Swick, you’ve got to wonder whether this is the end of the road I guess, as coming back from two and a half years on the shelf and then being KOd brutally like this in your second fight back is not a good sign. Still, a fantastically exciting opener just as I’d hoped.

Welterweight Fight: Rory MacDonald vs BJ Penn

Despite its placement on the card, this to most was the *real* main event of the show, as whenever BJ Penn fights it’s a big deal, and this one was an especially big deal, as he was coming out of a short ‘retirement’ that lasted just over a year to face off with rising Canadian star Rory MacDonald. In an interesting development – and pretty unique for MMA too – Penn was actually the babyface in the build, as despite being perennial fan favourite GSP’s buddy and training partner, MacDonald is just not a likeable character at ALL. Don’t know if it has something to do with his demeanour or the hipster way he dresses and talks or his emotionless style, but I thought I was the only one that didn’t like him and I was WRONG. Plus, he’d called out a retired guy in an attempt to make his name, which is always a heel act, saying a classic heelish line – “As a kid I respected BJ, as a man I don’t”. Harsh! As far as a pick, well, the safe money was on Rory. He’d looked like a monster in his last few fights and while none of those opponents came close to Penn at his best, there were just too many question marks surrounding BJ’s motivation and what sort of shape he’d be in to really warrant picking him.

Crowd are AMPED for this one as BJ gets a monstrous pop while Rory is booed out of the building. Penn looks to be in decent shape – about as decent as it gets for BJ Penn at 170lbs that is.

Round One and Penn comes right out to push the action, catching a knee and going for a single leg. Rory blocks it and forces him into the fence as the crowd start a loud “BJ!” chant already. They break off quickly but Rory grabs him again and forces him back into the fence. Good knee inside from BJ and then they separate. Left hook to the body lands for Rory and he follows with a right into a leg kick. Left hook is deftly dodged by Rory who sticks BJ with a pair of jabs. Left hook connects from Penn. HARD leg kick from MacDonald and he follows with a glancing high kick. Right hand counters for BJ but he takes a front kick to the face. Penn keeps pushing forward and he glances on a big right. Another leg kick lands for Rory. Big overhand right glances for Penn but Rory seems fine. Jab from Penn. Body kick answers for MacDonald. Left hand from Penn. Penn lands a combo and then drops for a takedown and gets Rory down, but the bigger man immediately reverses back to his feet. Reversal from Rory and he breaks off with a solid elbow. Penn suddenly looks a little tired. They exchange some jabs and then Rory nails him with a left hook right to the body. Good combination from MacDonald. Single leg attempt from the Canadian but Penn shakes it off with his usual sick balance. MacDonald is beginning to outland him though and back him up. Standing left elbow wobbles BJ badly and Rory follows with a combination, looking to finish things. Big head kick backs Penn up and there’s blood coming from his mouth. Body shot follows for Rory. Penn is in trouble. Couple more kicks miss but a chopping elbow glances. Penn manages to grab onto him to slow him down but Rory breaks with a left elbow and follows with a jab. Round ends there. BJ looks done. 10-9 MacDonald.

Round Two and Rory goes right out with the jab. Leg kick follows and Penn is standing right in front of him. Body kick follows and MacDonald moves out of the way of a Penn combo. More jabs from Rory have BJ backing up again. Left hand has him covering up. Brutal left to the body followed by a right cross connect for MacDonald. Penn is taking a beating here. Jabs and a front kick land for Rory. More stiff jabs have Penn backing up and a body kick follows. GSP-type combo lands for Rory with the jab into the leg kick. One-two does land for BJ but Rory just eats it up. Front kick to the body from Rory. Left hook from BJ but Rory hits him with a HUGE BODY KICK that causes him to outright double over. Left to the body follows and Penn is in DEEP TROUBLE. Rory UNLOADS with a combo and Herb Dean is hovering considering the ultra-rare standing stoppage. Rory stays disciplined though and picks his shots and that allows Penn to just about survive. This is a nasty beating though and I’d consider stopping it anyway. More body shots and combos have the legend wobbled further. Kick to the body and the liver punch and now it looks like Rory’s talking trash to him ala one of the Diaz brothers. Penn manages to fire back with some punches but he’s clearly lost his snap and now Rory starts to shuffle his feet and showboat, which hardly endears him to the crowd. Takedown attempt from Rory and he dumps Penn onto his back in guard. He can’t pass the guard though and Penn uses his feet on the hips to prevent any major ground-and-pound, and the round ends there. That was a BEATDOWN though and 10-8 for Rory in my book.

Doctor checks Penn over between rounds but decides he’s okay to continue. Surprised Penn’s corner didn’t consider throwing the towel in actually but then that’s ridiculously rare in MMA anyway (and is another rant entirely that I won’t get into here…) so the FIGHT MUST CONTINUE.

Round Three and Rory sticks him a few times with the jab before BJ manages to clinch and look to take the Canadian down. He manages a trip, but MacDonald works back up and breaks free, just showing too much strength for the smaller man. Clinch from MacDonald and he muscles BJ into the fence with little difficulty. Penn’s face is a MESS and he’s taking some DEEP breaths here. Herb Dean calls a surprising break and Penn lands with a left on the restart. Spinning wheel kick misses for Rory and he slips to the ground but gets up before BJ can react. Stats say Rory’s landed 102 strikes to Penn which is INSANE. Clinch from Rory and he forces Penn into the fence again. Right hand breaks for the Canadian and he clocks Penn with another vicious combination ending in a left kick to the body that would make Bas Rutten himself proud. Two minutes to go and BJ shrugs off a takedown attempt. Rory really begins to showboat now though, rolling his hands and shuffling his feet and all sorts. Left connects to the body of Penn again. Clinch from Rory and he muscles Penn into the fence and BJ is clearly exhausted. Herb Dean calls a separation again and Rory goes right back to the body. Head kick lands but Penn takes it somehow. Penn is showing a ton of heart at least. Superman punch into a left hook from Rory following a brief clinch. Rory is openly taunting Penn. Clinch again and Rory breaks with an elbow and a left before landing the left to the body. Seconds to go and Rory does another shuffle-step and then lands with a jab into a leg kick into a front kick to end the fight. 10-9 MacDonald and a total whitewash overall.

Judges score it 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27 all for Rory MacDonald. Crowd don’t like it but I mean, this was an absolute domination. I think the big thing here was that while Penn was clearly motivated for this fight, his body is just giving up on him at this point due to the years of abuse it’s taken in the cage and in the weight fluctuation sense, and so even though he’d clearly trained hard he was exhausted quite early on and by the end was practically a punching bag. If he indeed decides to fully retire now it’d be a decision I’d agree with – I’ve never been a massive fan but you have to respect his skills and accomplishments as one of the best of all time, which is how he’ll be remembered. Not to take a thing away from MacDonald though – this was a fantastic showing from a young fighter to take apart a guy the calibre of BJ Penn, even if he is way past his prime – and while I don’t think he warrants the #3 rank in the world which is where some have him at the minute, I don’t think there’s many fighters around at 170lbs right now who will be able to handle him. His upcoming fight with Jake Ellenberger should tell us a lot. Post-fight Rory calls out Carlos Condit in the most ROBOTIC WAY POSSIBLE to get a TON of boos. Guy is an INCREDIBLY natural heel. As far as one-sided fights go though, this was definitely one of the more watchable.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Alexander Gustafsson vs Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua

Like the previous fight, this one had a young gun going against an ageing legend, and just like the previous one, things seemed to be favouring the younger fighter coming in. Gustafsson had beaten Thiago Silva in his previous fight and was seemingly looking better and better with every appearance, while Shogun hadn’t exactly set the world on fire with his win over Brandon Vera even if he’d managed to get the KO in the end. Considering all of Shogun’s mileage – the knee injuries and the wars in PRIDE as well as the fights in the UFC with Jones, Coleman, Henderson et al – I thought this was Gustafsson’s fight to lose and took the Swede to win via second-round TKO, setting up a future date with Jon Jones.

First round begins and Gustafsson pushes forward looking to throw a right uppercut. Leg kick connects for Shogun. Another one follows but Gustafsson catches him with a right hand and Shogun goes down! Gustafsson pounces and looks to finish with some hammer fists, but Shogun ties him up and rolls right into a heel hook! Gustafsson looks in trouble for a second, but manages to roll with it and frees himself. Shogun grabs a rear waistlock as they stand though and lands a nice knee. Gustafsson stays calm and Shogun tries to drop for a leglock again, but Gus avoids it and circles out. Takedown from Gustafsson as Shogun comes forward, but he stands to avoid another leglock attempt. Combination from Gustafsson but Shogun counters a kick with a right hand and hits a takedown! Gustafsson immediately slides to the fence and stands, but he takes a knee to the body and Shogun grabs a bodylock to attempt another takedown. More knees from Shogun and he lands a left for good measure, but Gus breaks with a combo. Good right hand from Gustafsson and he shrugs off a clinch. Right uppercut from Gustafsson and he follows with a big body kick. Leg kick answers for Shogun. Overhand right glances for Gustafsson. Crowd are chanting for Shogun now. Nice right connects for the Brazilian. Leg kick from Shogun but Gustafsson fires back with a combo that forces Shogun to cover up. Takedown attempt from Gus is blocked by Rua, but he takes a knee to the gut for his troubles. Thirty seconds to go and Gus drops for the takedown, but Shogun blocks it and the round ends as Gustafsson breaks. Great opening round. Close round and I’d actually call it a tie; 10-10.

Second round and they trade punches right away with Shogun especially looking wild. Good leg kick from Gustafsson but Shogun connects with a right hand. Uppercut lands for Gustafsson but he takes a left hook from Shogun. Gustafsson has taken some shots here so evidently he has a good chin. Overhand right glances for the Brazilian. Takedown attempt from Gustafsson and he forces Shogun into the fence. They muscle for position but referee Dan Miragliotta calls a break. Good leg kick from Gustafsson off the restart and he jut avoids a big right hand. Shogun goes for a takedown but Gus uses a whizzer to throw him off and lands a combo. Trip attempt from Rua but Gustafsson reverses nicely and gets into top position in the full guard. Big punches from the top from Alex and then he lets Shogun up. Right hand connects for Gus but he eats a big one-two going backwards. Combo misses for Shogun and Gustafsson ducks under and hits a takedown. He gets into half-guard but Shogun reverses up to his feet and forces him into the fence. They muscle for position again and Gus gets another beautiful trip into guard where he works the body. Good right hands and a BIG KNEE land for the Swede as Shogun scrambles to his feet. Shogun is looking tired. Big uppercut into a vicious knee from Gustafsson and Shogun’s face looks busted up. He’s not out of this fight though and narrowly misses on an overhand right. Round ends on the feet. Clear 10-9 in the books for Gustafsson there.

Third round and Shogun comes out swinging but he’s clearly tired. Big right hand lands for him, but Gustafsson walks right through it and hits him with a combo. Another overhand right connects for Shogun but Gus lands with a couple of jabs and drops for a takedown. Shogun defends using a whizzer, but Gustafsson looks too strong and grabs back control with one hook! Shogun looks to roll through, but winds up on his back in guard. Gus lets him back up to a big crowd pop. This is a GREAT fight. Body kick connects for the Swede. Couple of punches miss for both men. Uppercut lands for Gustafsson as Shogun steps in and tries to clinch, but the Swede shrugs him off. Couple of big shots miss for Shogun and Gustafsson tackles him to the ground in full guard. Good short elbows from Gus land from the top and then he stands and allows Shogun back up. Shogun is swinging wildly now. Body kick connects for Gustafsson and clearly hurts the Brazilian, as he stumbles backwards a bit. Gustafsson closes in with some punches and then throws him down, before landing a knee as Shogun stands. Combination lands for Gustafsson and Shogun looks in trouble. Big right hand connects and then another knee lands. Shogun’s hands are hanging badly. Big right hand misses for Shogun and he eats a hard jab. Into the clinch and Gustafsson forces him back into the fence. Referee Dan Miragliotta quickly breaks them for inactivity and Gustafsson ducks for a takedown, but Shogun blocks it. Big front kick to the face snaps Shogun’s head back but he looks like he’s going to survive. He’s on wobbly legs, though. Seconds to go and Shogun swings into the clinch, but can’t do anything with it and the fight ends with a Gustafsson takedown right into mount. 10-9 Gustafsson and I’d call it 30-28 for him overall.

Scorecards are, surprisingly enough, 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 for Alexander Gustafsson. Well, I wouldn’t have given him a 10-8 for any of those rounds but I guess it’s nice to see judges actually using them for once as long as they’re getting the decision right which they did here. This was a GREAT FIGHT in my opinion – a throwback to the mid-2000’s when 205lbs was at a bit of a golden age – and while Gustafsson picked up the biggest win of his career, really it looked more like Shogun’s cardio was the thing that let him down as it wasn’t as blowaway a win as I was expecting and a lot of the exchanges until the third round were pretty even. I mean yeah, it was enough for Gustafsson to warrant a shot at Jones – and thankfully (due to an injury!) he’s getting that shot in September rather than having to fight again – but if he’d put away Shogun that fight might’ve been a little more intriguing rather than Gus looking like another victim in line for Bones, but that’s another fight. After seeing this I think Shogun still has a future – even if it’s not an especially bright one – and I doubt many would call for his retirement now. Really fun stuff.

UFC World Lightweight Title: Benson Henderson vs Nate Diaz

Talk about a main event – not only were the UFC giving away a title fight on Fox, but the match also sounded like FIREWORKS, as both men rarely have dull fights and it sounded like a fun matchup, with Henderson’s wrestling, improving kickboxing and a seeming inability to be submitted going against Diaz’s wild boxing and jiu-jitsu style. After seeing Diaz throttle Jim Miller in May I thought this was a tough fight to call, but given Henderson had never been tapped out and had better wrestling and brutal ground-and-pound, I was sticking with the champ, most likely via decision.

Epic staredown, naturally, as referee Herb Dean literally has to hold Diaz back. Well, he would have to, let’s be honest. Surprisingly Diaz doesn’t flip Bendo off or anything like that.

Round One and Diaz stalks forward, but walks into a pair of hard leg kicks from Henderson who looks content to stay on his bike. Clinch from Diaz and he lands some knees to the legs, but Bendo reverses position to force the challenger back into the fence. Diaz is getting the better of the striking in this clinch though. He tries for a throw, but Henderson blocks it using sheer strength. Nice knee to the body from the champion. Henderson tries to drag Nate down, but Diaz works his way right back up. They continue to exchange from close range before Diaz breaks off with an elbow. Good leg kick from Henderson and he shoots on a single leg and gets it. Diaz immediately pops back up, but Henderson takes him down again and drops some punches over the top as Diaz throws his legs up. Really good shots land as Diaz tries to turn for a leglock, but Henderson avoids and grabs hold of him as he stands. Nate manages to break free and pushes forward, but another leg kick drops him and Henderson gets on top with Diaz in the turtle position where he drops some punches. Diaz works his way back up, but he can’t get off with any punches and they clinch again and exchange knees before breaking. Good one-two from Henderson sets up another clinch, and this time Diaz tries for the takedown. Again though he can’t get Henderson off his feet, and the round ends with the two men clinched. 10-9 Henderson; good opening round.

Round Two and Diaz stalks forward but takes another leg kick and a right hook. Into the clinch and Diaz looks to work some knees to the body, but Henderson hits a nice trip and begins to land heavy shots as Diaz goes into the turtle position in an attempt to stand. He does manage to stand, but eats a big right head kick as he does and Henderson follows with a hard knee to the body from the clinch. Good knees to the thighs from Bendo now too and Diaz is reduced to the odd short left hand to the head. HARD elbow strike inside from Henderson. Good knee from Diaz but Henderson lands with an uppercut. Left elbow strike breaks off for the champion. Diaz tries to get some combinations going, but he can’t seem to get hold of Henderson due to the champion’s movement, and he takes another leg kick. Good right to the body from Henderson and then he grabs a clinch. Diaz shrugs him off this time though. Pair of right hands to the leg from Henderson (!) and they actually buckle Diaz’s leg. BIG LEFT HOOK follows over the top and DIAZ IS DOWN! Henderson pounces and looks to finish, dropping some bombs down onto the challenger, but Nate shows some toughness and kicks him away. Henderson drops back down into half-guard and continues to bomb away, then takes the back as Diaz rolls. Diaz manages to get to his feet, but Bendo pins him into the fence before breaking and landing another left hook to set up another clinch. Diaz manages to hit a hip throw this time, but Henderson pops right back up and lands with some more low leg kicks. Diaz’s leg looks in trouble. Round ends there. I’d give that round a 10-8 for Henderson as he did tons of damage while Diaz could literally do nothing with him.

Round Three and Diaz’s right eye is all marked up. Leg kick opens for Henderson again and those kicks are completely stopping Diaz from getting into punching range. Wild hooks miss for Diaz as Henderson fires off some side kicks to the leg. Good right hook finally gets through for Nate but Henderson seems fine. Big takedown from the champion as he ducks under a right hand. Diaz rolls for a leglock, but Henderson avoids and drops some BOMBS down onto the head. Scramble sees Diaz on top for a split second before they stand. Leg kick and a low single leg takedown from Henderson and he stands over Nate and drops some more hard shots down onto him. Diaz is just getting owned here. Henderson stands right over him to drop some punches but Diaz answers with some kicks to the legs. Henderson makes him pay though with some elbows and then almost works into side mount, but Nate hits a beautiful reversal and gets on top, then goes for a kneebar from the scramble! He switches to a toehold as Henderson pulls his leg slightly free, but the champion spins out and then lands some BOMBS before taking the back with both hooks! Crowd go crazy but Diaz scrambles and manages to regain guard. Another leglock attempt follows and it looks like a heel hook attempt this time, and then we go into a crazy visual as Henderson does the FULL SPLITS while freeing his leg. Good lord. Back to the feet now and HENDERSON DECKS HIM WITH A RIGHT HAND!~! Crowd EXPLODE as Henderson pounces and looks to finish, but again Diaz wraps him up. This time the champ passes into side mount though. Diaz again spins for a leglock attempt, chopping at the body with some kicks for good measure. Henderson gets out though and drops some elbows to the head and body while looking to slice through the guard. Round ends with Bendo landing some heavy shots. INCREDIBLE ROUND but it’s another one in the books for Benson Henderson, and Diaz now needs a finish.

Round Four and neither man is even breathing heavy. Diaz is dropping his hands now to try to entice Bendo in I guess, but the champ has none of that and throws a flurry to set up the clinch. Diaz looks for a whizzer to set up a throw, but Henderson’s too strong and he forces Nate down before taking the back with one hook. Diaz avoids the full back mount, but still takes some hard shots before he uses the turtle position to stand. Another trip puts Nate back down though, and this time Bendo lands in side mount. Diaz rolls to give his back again and takes some more punches before working to his feet. Odd trip forces Henderson to the ground, but Diaz can’t scramble on top and so he takes some hard punches from the champ instead. Back up but Henderson drags him right back down to punish him some more. Diaz tries to wrap up a kimura, but Henderson avoids and continues to pound him. Into half-guard now and Diaz eats some hard, short elbows. Kimura attempt again from Diaz but Henderson works into back mount to avoid and drops some hard hammer fists to the side of the head. Diaz rolls back to guard but the onslaught just doesn’t let up as Henderson continues to drop bombs. Henderson avoids another attempt at grabbing his leg, and lands shots from half-guard before standing over the challenger. Big right hand comes over the top but doesn’t land cleanly. He even punches the legs from there for good measure. Seconds to go in the round and Henderson looks supremely confident. Diaz goes to the crab position and kicks at him before standing, but Henderson lands a leg kick to close out the round. 10-9 Henderson and he’s running away with this now.

Round Five and the doctor carefully checks Diaz over before letting him out to fight. His right eye looks seriously damaged. Diaz tries his trademark trash talking, but he eats another punch to the leg. Clinch from Henderson and he lands some short punches while forcing the challenger into the cage. Big elbow misses for the champ but he’s still got hold of Nate. Henderson gets a bodylock and then delivers a BIG SLAM that drops Nate face-first. Nate rolls onto his back, but takes some punches from there before rolling for a leglock. Henderson gets right out and MAKES HIM PAY with some HEAVY GROUND-AND-POUND. Into side mount for Bendo but Diaz reverses to his feet. Henderson stays right on him and the crowd are loudly chanting for him now. Big knee to the thigh from Bendo and he continues to muscle the challenger around. Diaz looks to wrap up an arm again ala Sakuraba, but when they go to the ground Henderson stays in control and continues to land on him. They come back up with Henderson still holding the rear waistlock. BRUTAL knee to the leg from Henderson. Nice trip from Diaz but Henderson muscles him right off and gets on top to drop more bombs. Diaz gives his back and takes some crushing shots before eating a NASTY right head kick as he stands. This is an incredible showing from Henderson. Less than thirty seconds to go and he has Diaz pressed against the fence. Combo to the body and a left hook breaks for Henderson. Diaz tries to taunt him into making a mistake, but it’s no dice and the fight ends there. Clear round for Benson Henderson and really he barely lost a moment of that fight really. I’d score it 50-44 but you could easily argue 50-43 too I’d say.

Judges have it 50-43, 50-45 and 50-45 all for Benson Henderson to retain his UFC Lightweight Title. Just a truly phenomenal performance from him – a career best I’d argue – as he used his leg kicks to negate Diaz’s boxing advantage, never let him get comfortable for a second in the clinch, and completely shut down his BJJ game by consistently using his wrestling to get into the better position and just not stopping with his ground-and-pound. Diaz to his credit never gave up for a second – lesser men would’ve been finished at various points – and that made for a tremendous fight to watch with no dull points, but to be frank he was thoroughly outclassed here, which says a LOT as he’s a real elite level fighter. Right now though, Benson Henderson is THE BEST. And in a stacked division like 155lbs, that’s impressive as hell.

-We go back to the studio with Curt Menefee, Brian Stann and Randy Couture (boo!) to wrap things up, before ending with a quick plug for UFC 155. Show ends there.

Final Thoughts….

All in all this was a TREMENDOUS SHOW. Probably the best free TV show that the UFC has ever put on, period, as we got four excellent fights and while Johnson/Swick was the only finish, the other three fights were equally as exciting and lived up to the promise that the card showed going in. Really the only knock against the show is that the top three fights were essentially one-sided, but I thought Shogun and Diaz did enough to make their fights at least somewhat competitive even if the results never seemed in doubt. If you’re an MMA fan you owe it to yourself to see this one if you haven’t already. Two thumbs up.

Best Fight: Henderson vs. Diaz
Worst Fight: None

Overall Rating: *****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: