As far as the in-fight action goes, UFC On Fox 5 went off without a hitch. The UFC pushed for this to be the most attractive card to ever hit free TV and backed it up with perennial stars like B.J. Penn and Shogun Rua. Then they put a cherry on top with a Lightweight title bout between Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz.
Ben Henderson – Coming into this fight the Lightweight champion was knee deep in criticism. He’d taken a close decision from former champ Frankie Edgar at UFC 144. He followed that up with a less than definitive performance against Edgar at UFC 150 where he came out ahead with a very controversial split decision. But he turned that all around tonight with a dominant performance over Nate Diaz. From the opening bell he made Diaz fight his fight and solidified his championship status.
Alexander Gustafsson – Alex came into this fight on an impressive 5 fight win streak. Even though Thiago Silva was his best win, he’d shown dominant performances since his loss to Phil Davis at UFC 112. Shogun was able to stay in the fight, but there was no doubt who won. After 15 minutes Gustafsson looked unscathed standing across from a bloody and bruised Rua. A very solid performance by the young Swedish kickboxer that may have earned him a title shot.
Rory MacDonald – Rory completely dominated B.J. Penn from bell to bell. On top of that, he did it while being the first UFC fighter to win while undergoing additional drug testing with VADA. He probably let off the gas a little bit in the 3rd round, but he rocked Penn in the first and had Herb Dean ready to stop the action multiple times in the second. Regardless of his imposing size advantage, he was on point throughout the fight. He added a little bit by calling out the latest Welterweight contender and the only man to beat him in the octagon, Carlos Condit.
Matt Brown – Since coming out of The Ultimate Fighter season 7, Brown had found himself a niche as a low level gatekeeper. Basically, if you you could beat “The Immortal” you deserved to be in the UFC and if you couldn’t it was time to go back to the regional circuit. But in the last year he’s been on a tear, even if it hasn’t been against great competition. Last night he capped that off with a definitive finish over a former top 10 welterweight in Mike Swick. Brown probably won’t ever fight for the title, but he proved at Fox 5 that he’s never a fighter to overlook.
Scott Jorgensen – Two years ago Scotty Jorgensen was fighting for the Bantamweight championship in the promotion’s final event. It looked like he was working his way back to another title shot in 2011 with 2 wins. But 2012 spelled trouble. Jorgensen gave up back to back losses losses in his last two fights. Despite being a top 15 talent in the division, he was still shuffled off to the Facebook prelims for Fox 5. Then he showed Joe Silva and Dana White that they were wrong. John Albert may have had some success in their fight, but Jorgensen still made him tap the mat when all he had to do was hold out for another half a second.
Nate Diaz – In the main event of UFC On Fox 5 the younger Diaz had the opportunity to take a big step out of his brother’s shadow. After 3 perfectly dominant performances leading up to his title shot, Nate completely dropped the ball. Throughout the 5 round battle he was unable to impose his will. He’ll still be a top talent at 155 lbs., but nobody is going to be looking for a rematch any time soon.
Shogun Rua – This was a rough fight for Shogun. He probably looked the best he has since he took the Light Heavyweight championship from Lyoto Machida at UFC 113. He was light on his feet and aggressively closed the distance to land heavy punches. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the physical advantages and technical acumen of Alexander Gustafsson.
B.J. Penn – Leading up to last night’s fights, Penn spoke passionately about re-solidifying himself as one of the best fighters to ever step into the Octagon. As one of only two men to ever hold titles in two divisions, he has the resume. But lately he hadn’t put together the performances to justify the claim as a pound for pound great with a record of 1-4-1 since UFC 112. Unless Penn decides to make the cut to Lightweight, it’s probably best that he retires after this devastating loss.
Mike Swick – Back in 2009 Swick was an intimidating figure in the Welterweight division. He was a top 10 fighter that refused to fight his teammates Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch. Then he was defeated by Dan Hardy and his whole career took a turn. He followed up with a submission loss to Paulo Thiago before being forced from competition for over two years due to illness and injury. He returned at UFC On Fox 4 with an impressive knockout over TUF 9 competitor DaMarques Johnson. As big of a win it is for Matt Brown to beat Swick, it’s an equally big loss for Swick. The UFC has stuck with him throughout all his medical issues, but this KO is going to drop him to the bottom of the barrel.
FOX – With the small exception of Mike Easton vs. Raphael Assuncao on the FX prelims, every single fight on UFC on Fox 5 brought quality action. The scheduled fighters could not have done more for their promotion, but the FOX network did not return the favor. First, they took 20 minutes for uninspiring commentary before the first main card fight even started, while long time UFC commentator Mike Goldberg struggled to pronounce the word “Prodigy”. That wasn’t even close to the end of the issues. Somehow a FOX producer allowed the UFC’s biggest rival Bellator to buy ad time featuring their return to Spike TV throughout the event. And we’re still not done. Multiple times throughout the main event FOX experienced “technical difficulties” where the championship fight was interrupted by an nondescript overhead shot of non-action from earlier in the night. The FOX network did a great job of promoting the event this week, but with lead ins like The Proposal and Jeopardy they fumbled terribly on fight night.
Yves Edwards (winner) – Thank you for the physical presentation of karmic justice.
Jeremy Stephens (loser) – Stephens probably deserves a higher spot on this list, but I’m so revolted by the decisions of the UFC that I refuse to give him a higher placement. Since his originally scheduled fight against Yves Edwards at UFC On FX 5, Stephens has been dealing with the ramifications of felony assault charges. With a pretrial hearing coming up in under a week, there’s no reason he should have been fighting tonight, much less featured.
Henry Martinez (loser) – Martinez got a lot of mentions Friday evening when he came in way overweight at 158.8 lbs. Despite being almost 3 lbs over the limit, Martinez never even tried to make the official weight.. Then when fight time rolled around, Cruickshank dominated Martinez. He had Henry rocked multiple times before finally finishing Martinez off in the second. So, on top of being embarrassed in the cage, Martinez also had to pay Daron for kicking his ass.
Marcus LeVesseur – After watching the four fighters before him deliver great performances, LeVesseur decided that was enough. From the opening bell he was dedicated to making his fight against Abel Trujillo turrble. Throughout the 9 minute fight, the best offense he could must was uninspired wall-and-stall. His impotent performance actually manged to inspire fans to root for a man twice convicted of domestic violence.
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