The Emerald City of Seattle played host to the UFC’s fifth event on Fox, which was held at the Key Arena on Dec. 8.

The night’s main event featured lightweight champion Benson Henderson defending his title against No. 1 contender Nate Diaz in the first lightweight title fight not to feature Frankie Edgar since 2010. UFC on Fox 5’s main card also featured the return of B.J. Penn in a welterweight fight against Rory MacDonald, as well as a light heavyweight title eliminator between former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and up-and-coming contender Alexander Gustafsson.

The event featured a total of 11 fights with the main card airing on Fox and the preliminary fights split between FX and Facebook.

Henderson stifles Diaz’s offense, retains UFC lightweight title

UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson easily retained his belt against challenger Nate Diaz in the UFC on Fox 5 main event, combining strategic clinch work with powerful strikes to completely neutralize any of Diaz’s attacks.

In the first round, the fighters mostly traded strikes and clinched, with Henderson landing a few significant leg kicks to begin the frame. Henderson got two takedowns midway through the round, but was unable to keep Diaz down. Nevertheless, the champion was more effective in implementing his game plan, as Diaz was unable to really generate any sustained offense.

Henderson got a takedown on Diaz inside the first minute of the second round, landing some heavy punches to Diaz’s head afterward. The fighters returned to their feet, but this only served to allow Henderson to land several significant strikes, including a big punch to Diaz’s head, which knocked him down with 1:45 left in the round. Henderson continued his ground-and-pound attack before the fighters were both standing once again. Henderson landed a number of hard leg kicks during this round as well.

The story of round three was one of Henderson’s takedowns and Diaz’s subsequent leglock attempts. Throughout this round, Henderson put Diaz on his back, at which point Diaz went for one of Henderson’s legs. Henderson countered with heavy shots to Diaz’s unprotected head and the fighters got back to their feet. This refrain was repeated a few times in the third, before Henderson once again knocked Diaz down with a big punch. Diaz ended the round on his back and absorbed an ax kick from Henderson just as the horn sounded.

Henderson continued his takedown-centric attack in the fourth round, repeatedly putting Diaz on the mat and following up with hard strikes. Diaz’s only solution seemed to be to attempt kimura armlocks, none of which proved successful in another winning round for the champion.

The main event’s final segment followed the same pattern as the others, with Henderson controlling Diaz through superior clinch work and takedowns, this time slamming Diaz to the mat with 3:30 left in the fight. Henderson remained standing, throwing punches and elbows at a once-again grounded Diaz. The last significant offense in the fight was, as one might expect, also from Henderson, who landed a head kick on Diaz with just under a minute to go.

The judges gave the fight to Henderson in a clean sweep. The fight was Henderson’s second successful title defense and sixth straight win. The loss for Diaz was his first after three successful fights in his return to the lightweight division.

Gustafsson outpoints “Shogun”

UFC on Fox 5 also showcased the emergence of a new light heavyweight title contender in Alexander Gustafsson, who defeated former 205-pound champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by unanimous decision.

The fight’s opening round was the closest, with Rua attempting a number of leglocks as the fighters battled on the ground following a Gustafsson takedown. Rua landed a big right hand midway through the round and also put a knee to Gustafsson’s body. The round ended with Gustafsson once again going for a takedown.

Rounds two and three were clearly won by the big Swede. Rua landed some punches early in the second and then went for a takedown, which Gustafsson countered to end up on top of Shogun. He stood up following the counter, but hit another successful takedown with just under two minutes left. The fighters were back to their feet soon after, but Gustafsson sealed it up for himself by landing some knees as the round ended.

The third round was the most decisive for Gustafsson, who hit several successful takedowns and hurt Rua badly with a body kick. He followed that up with a continued onslaught of punches before landing a front kick to Rua’s face with under a minute to go. The judges scored all three rounds for Gustafsson, though the first could have possibly gone either way.

With his win over Rua, Gustafsson improves to 15-1 and becomes the presumptive No. 1 contender for the light heavyweight championship. Rua has gone 4-4 in his last eight fights, alternating wins and losses with each fight. His place among the 205-pound pantheon is secure, but Gustafsson was the better man on Saturday.

MacDonald dispatches Penn with ease

Welterweight Rory MacDonald has been compared favorably to his training partner, Georges St-Pierre (who also happens to be the UFC’s 170-pound champion). He certainly lived up to that billing Saturday night, defeating B.J. Penn in convincing fashion.

MacDonald quickly established his dominance in round one, pressing Penn against the cage and landing some heavy kicks when the fighters separated. The fighter they call “Ares” was able to stagger Penn toward the end of the round with an elbow and continued to batter “The Prodigy” until the horn sounded.

The first round painted an accurate portrayal of the fight as a whole, as MacDonald implemented a similar game plan in rounds two and three. He landed a number of hard body shots and was extremely close to putting Penn away in the second frame. In the closing round, MacDonald displayed his ample confidence, putting his hands down and even talking some trash to the former two-division champion.

In the end, the scorecards reflected MacDonald’s performance. The Canadian is now 14-1 and called out Carlos Condit after the fight in an attempt to avenge his lone defeat. Penn, meanwhile, has won just one time since 2009, and that was against a past-his-prime Matt Hughes, so his fighting future is up in the air.

Brown knocks out Swick

Matt Brown made his Fox debut in impressive fashion, putting fellow welterweight Mike Swick to sleep with a brilliant combination of punches midway through round two.

Brown also controlled much of the action in the opening frame, trapping Swick first in a D’Arce choke and later a triangle choke. Neither submission attempt was successful, however, and both fighters ended the round on their feet, exchanging strikes.

“The Immortal” began the second round by landing a couple of hard standing elbows to Swick’s face, which prompted Swick to shoot for a takedown. He quickly abandoned that strategy, however, and the fighters once again squared off on their feet. It was not long after that Brown got the better of a punching exchange and landing a left-right combo that put Swick away for good.

With the victory, Brown is now riding a four-fight winning streak, while Swick drops to 1-3 in his last four fights.

Preliminary Card Summary

The FX portion of the UFC on Fox 5 card was headlined by an explosive fight between lightweights Yves Edwards and Jeremy Stephens. The bout was not a long one, however, ending within two minutes when Edwards caught Stephens with a hard counter punch that put “Lil’ Heathen” on the mat. From there, Edwards leapt in for the kill, landing a handful of punches and elbows to finish the fight. It was the first time Stephens has ever been knocked out.

In the bantamweight division, Raphael Assuncao handed Mike Easton his first UFC loss, breaking Easton’s eight-fight winning streak. Assuncao seemed to adopt a counter-striking, avoidant style similar to Lyoto Machida (as announcers Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan pointed out) which befuddled “The Hulk” and made it difficult for him to mount any sustained offense. Assuncao was never close to finishing the fight, but he countered Easton’s attacks effectively enough to earn the decision.

Lightweight Ramsey Nijem eked out a decision victory over Joe Proctor in one of the night’s closest contests. The fight was back and forth from the opening horn, with Nijem shooting for a takedown and Proctor countering with a guillotine choke attempt. The rest of the fight was more of the same, punctuated by brief striking exchanges in which Proctor actually looked like he had the advantage. In the end, though, Nijem’s positional dominance proved more significant to the judges, who awarded him a unanimous victory.

Daron Cruickshank put on an impressive striking display against fellow lightweight Henry Martinez, notching the night’s first pure knockout. While Martinez closed the distance early in an effort to use his wrestling to control the fight, Cruickshank was ultimately able to escape his grasp and began teeing off. He nearly finished Martinez twice in the first round, once with a series of kicks to the body and again with a glancing blow to Martinez’s head. Cruickshank finished the job in the second round with another head kick, this one right on the money, putting Martinez to sleep.

In a fight that was only made on Friday, lightweights Marcus LeVesseur and Abel Trujillo battled one another after both fighters’ original opponents withdrew from the card due to injury. LeVesseur, the highly-touted wrestler who went undefeated in his college career, began the fight as one might expect, going for a takedown. Trujillo, making his UFC debut, would not go down so easily, however, and landed a number of body shots as he defended LeVesseur’s attempts. The second round was all Trujillo, as he nearly submitted LeVesseur with a north-south choke before ultimately ending the fight with a number of brutal knees to the body. Definitely an impressive debut for Trujillo.

Featherweights Dennis Siver and Nam Phan also provided fans with an entertaining exchange early on the card, although Siver absolutely dominated the entire fight. He landed hard straight punches and leg kicks at will against Phan in the first and second before taking it to the ground for the majority of the third round. From there, he stayed on top of Phan, repeatedly bouncing his head off the canvas with elbows. Phan certainly showed a lot of toughness with all 15 minutes of the onslaught, but the decision for Siver was a clear one.

The night was kicked off with an exciting one-rounder between former WEC bantamweight contender Scott Jorgensen and TUF 14 contestant John Albert. The fight went to the ground almost immediately and remained there for the duration. Jorgensen and Albert traded positional advantages and submission attempts, with Albert securing a triangle choke with 2:20 left in the round. Jorgensen was able to escape about a minute later, however, and eventually took Albert’s back with just ten seconds to go. From there, “Young Guns” sunk in a rear-naked choke and Albert tapped just as the horn sounded.

Full Results

Benson Henderson def. Nate Diaz by unanimous decision (50-45 x2, 50-43) (for lightweight title)
Alexander Gustafsson def. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Rory Macdonald def. BJ Penn by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 x2)
Matt Brown def. Mike Swick by KO (punches). Round 2, 2:31
Yves Edwards def. Jeremy Stephens by KO (punches and elbows). Round 1, 1:55
Raphael Assuncao def. Mike Easton by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Ramsey Nijem def. Joe Proctor by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Daron Cruickshank def. Henry Martinez by KO (head kick). Round 2, 2:57
Abel Trujillo def. Marcus LeVesseur by TKO (knees to the body). Round 2, 3:56
Dennis Siver def. Nam Phan by unanimous decision (30-24, 30-25, 30-26)
Scott Jorgensen def. John Albert by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:59

Photo: Benson Henderson (L) and Nate Diaz (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.