On Saturday, December 8th, the UFC is airing one of the (in my opinion) best cards of the year. There isn’t a fight on this entire card I am not looking forward to.
As far as the order of the fights go… I would definitely say that Nam Phan and Denis Siver do not belong at the bottom of the list. It is hard to see how Nam Phan will deal with the power of Siver but maybe a couple signature body shots from Phan will once again remind me of how/why this guy is a legitimate gate keeper.
Not to take anything away from the rest of the prelim fights but I can’t help but focus my attention to the return of BJ “The Prodigy” Penn after his “retirement” following the beatdown Nate Diaz handed him. BJ makes his return to take on a very game opponent in Rory Macdonald. This will be no easy fight for either fighter. Rory Macdonald is coming in with only 1 loss on his record which came courtesy of Carlos Condit at UFC 115. It is always hard to face your first loss but hey…….not too much to be ashamed of when you make it to the 3rd round with a beast like Condit. Penn is obviously no stranger to fighting the elite. In his last 8 fights he has faced world class athletes like Nate Diaz, Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes, Frankie Edgar (2x), Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, and George St. Pierre. He is 3-4-1 out of his last 8 fights but almost every fight went the distance. This will be a true test to both men to see where they fall in today’s welterweight rankings. And to think we get this fight without the good ol’ boy price of $54.99.
The co-main event of this card features a classic match up that pits the veteran fighter Shogun Rua against the “new school” up and comer from Sweden, Alexander Gustaffson.
Rua is riding a razors edge for making the case to be in the UFC Hall of Fame. He has faced nothing but top notch talent and along his journey knocked out the phenom Alistair Overeem in the first round back at Pride 33. Since then he has teeter tottered his wins/losses by winning 1 and then turning around and losing 1. With almost 30 fights under his belt, this fight will be a true test for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to determine if he’s in over his head at this point of his career to make a run for a title shot against Jon “Bones” Jones again. He had a shot at him back at UFC 128 and was defeated in the 3rd round via TKO. I believe he still has the 1 punch power to knock anyone out on any given night so as long as he keeps his chin tucked and is able to be elusive enough to stay out of the Gustaffson’s reach, he has a 50/50 shot at having his hand raised at the end of this fight.
Alexander Gustaffson on the other hand is an up and comer who has earned his position as a co-main event fighter. At 6′ 5″ and sporting a record of 14-1 I can’t see anyone making a good case that he is not deserving. His only loss was back in 2010 when he fought Phil Davis at UFC 112. In all 15 of his professional fights only twice has he went the distance (which he was victorious in both). His reach allows him to keep his opponents far enough away to impose his will. The key to beating Shogun will rely on him being himself and not hesitating to pull the trigger. This fight could go either way at any second so as cliche’ as it is…….the fans are truly the winners for this fight.
And now to the fight we have all been waiting to see……Nate Diaz vs. Benson Henderson. This is a 5 round title fight for the lightweight division belt in the UFC and I have no doubts this will be as entertaining as any Diaz fight to date.
Benson Henderson is defending his belt for a second time after taking it from Frankie Edgar and then proving it by defeating Edgar in a rematch. The wrestling Henderson brings to the table is phenomenal and if he utilizes his leg kicks like we have seen him do in the past, that just may be the recipe to take the belt back to Arizona for a 3rd time in a row. The only thing that may not work in his favor is if he lets Diaz jump into his head. If Benson can go into the octagon with full confidence and do what he does best……Diaz will have his hands full. Henderson is very scrappy and has the ability to kick the legs out from under the best in the business. If he can stick and move (not run away) similar to what Carlos Condit did to Nate’s older brother Nick….he’ll be in this fight from bell to bell. If he hesitates and is even a little unsure of his ability and instinct, Diaz will take advantage of this weakness and expose him.
Nate Diaz, winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 5, is coming off 2 very impressive wins over Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller. Diaz has an uncanny ability to get into the heads of some of the sports elite athletes. This is a huge advantage because it allows his opponents to fight with emotion instead of using the skills they have prepared and trained for. I believe Nate’s best shot of taking the belt back to California is to intimidate Benson at the weigh-ins and through all other media prior to the fight to get Benson rattled. Once in the octagon all he will need to do is unleash his unorthodox striking ability and start tagging Henderson up with 1,000 papercuts. Of course during the fight he needs to pop Benson with a couple open handed slaps and let him know verbally he isn’t in the same league. (or use some other choice words). On the ground I am very curious to see who dominates and imposes their will as the fight goes into the later rounds. Diaz has great Jiu-Jitsu and Henderson has great submission defense. This will truly be a game of human chess.
Either way this is a fans fight and I think we can all agree that this is probably one of the most stacked free cards in UFC history. These fights are going to be too close to bet on with an almost guarantee that there are no “lay and pray…ers” we will be forced to fast forward through. Thank you UFC!!
Tags: 2012, 8, 8th, alexander gustaffson vs mauricio rua, benson henderson vs nate diaz, daron cruickshank vs henry martinez, December, December 8, December 8 2012, December 8th, December 8th 2012, dennis siver vs nam phan, dom, dom fight gear, dom gear, fight gear, jeremy stephens vs yves edwards, mike easton vs raphael assuncao, mike swick vs matt brown, ramsey nijem vs joe proctor, rory macdonald vs bj penn, scott jorgensen vs john albert, tim means vs abel trujillo