My UFC on Fox 5 M.V.P.
UFC on Fox 5 was met with great anticipation and for the most part the card delivered a lot of great action and exceptional performances. Many of the fighters made huge statements on Saturday night so it wasn’t easy to determine who my MVP was going to be.
The undercard began with what was rightfully chosen as the Fight of the Night with Scotty Jorgensen and John Albert went back and forth the entire first round displaying an enjoyable grappling clinic. Jorgensen also took home the Submission of the Night bonus when he cinched in a fight ending rear naked choke which Albert tapped to with just one second left in the round.
The FX portion had six bouts, four of which featured the lightweight division, but first up were featherweights Dennis Siver and Nam Phan. Siver used his size advantage and completely dominated Phan as he was awarded scores of 30-26, 30-25 and 30-24. Yes, the scores were very indicative of how badly Siver beat up on Phan.
Abel Trujillo was originally scheduled to face Tim Means, but Means suffered a freak injury the morning of the weigh-ins causing him to be pulled from the bout. Means was replaced by Marcus LeVesseur who was scheduled to fight Mike Chiesa. With just a few days before the fight Chiesa was forced off the card with an undisclosed illness, but the change in opponent didn’t make much of a difference to Trujillo who made quite the impression in his UFC debut. The Blackzilians team member ended the fight with a flurry that included some devastating knees to the body.
Daron Cruickshank defeated Henry Martinez by vicious head kick at 2:57 in round 2. At that point it looked like he would take home the Knockout of the Night bonus, but Yves Edwards had other ideas. The next two bouts went to decision as Ramsey Nijem defeated Joe Proctor by unanimous decision and in what some saw as a slight upset; Raphael Assuncao defeated Mike Easton by unanimous decision.
The main event of the FX fights was a bout between Yves Edwards and Jeremy Stephens. These two were supposed to meet at UFC on FX in October, but Stephens was arrested and the UFC rescheduled the fight for Saturday. Edwards became the first man to knock Stephens out with a sick hook that netted him an additional $65k for Knockout of the Night.
Leading off the Fox portion of night was a welterweight bout pitting Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown. Swick was coming off a knockout win over DaMarques Johnson at UFC on Fox 4 in August while Brown was riding a three fight winning streak. Brown controlled the entire first round both standing on the ground and had Swick in trouble with some chokes, but the AKA welterweight only delayed the inevitable as Brown knocked out him cold midway through the second round.
The performance put on by Brown was in my opinion his most impressive to date inside the Octagon. He stalked Swick, battered him with strikes and showed off a much improved ground game. There were a few occasions in the first round where it looked as though Swick might be on his way out. Brown locked in a very tight Darce choke which Swick was able to escape, but then he found himself in a triangle choke that had him in all sorts of trouble.
At no point in the entire fight was the outcome in question, the ending sequence was beautiful if you are a Brown fan and was sad if you are a fan of Swick. This is something that will boost Brown’s confidence and the UFC should look to give him a pretty tough test his next time out. For now he is content with flying under the radar and racking up wins.
BJ Penn vs. Rory MacDonald was next and the fans were really behind The Prodigy. They didn’t show any love at all for the Canadian MacDonald. It was clear from the very beginning that MacDonald was not intimidated and that his size advantage was just going to be too much for Penn to deal with. The former two division UFC champion absorbed a ton of punishment throughout the three rounds, but somehow he soldiered on and made it to the end.
MacDonald is incredible, he has terrific striking, he is strong, he is athletic and he has confidence way beyond his 23 years. After beating a legend in Penn he wasted no time in calling out former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit who to this day is the only man to have defeated him. Both men have made huge strides in the two years since they first met and should they face off once again it is sure to be an incredible fight.
In another old guard vs., the new guard match-up, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua faced Alexander Gustafsson in a battle that may have very well determined the number one contender in the 205 lb. division. The 25-year-old Swede dictated the entire fight, even earning a 10-8 round one judge’s scorecard. Here is another fighter who has improved by leaps and bounds in a short period of time. Gustafsson admitted to being star struck, but you never would have known by his performance against one of the all time great light heavyweights.
The main event was expected to be a hotly contested, back and forth affair between UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz, but Smooth pitched a shutout against the Cesar Gracie trained fighter. In Diaz’s defense it was reported after the fight that his eye was injured causing him to have blurred vision. If that’s the case it makes the outcome a little more understandable as he really had nothing to offer Henderson. Even with a bum eye, Henderson may have been too much for Nate, but there’s no shame in losing to a great fighter, especially if you come back stronger.
As far as Henderson is concerned he was aggressive with his striking and his grappling. Diaz never had a chance to catch his breath as Henderson was all over him like a swarm of bees. Watching Henderson take Diaz’s back and threaten to choke him out was very surprising to me, but it is a testament to how hard Benson works and just how dedicated he is to becoming a better fighter.
He may have had a slight chip on his shoulder because of all the comments about his last fight with Frankie Edgar and how many felt as though he lost that bout. He had something to prove on Saturday night and it looks as though he made the statement he was looking to make. Henderson also proved he can avoid distractions after Diaz gave him the finger while attempting a heel hook, Henderson never let it bother him.
There are certainly a lot of candidates for the MVP of UFC on Fox 5. While I was impressed with Gustafsson and Brown, it came down to MacDonald and Henderson for me. Both men were incredible and are two of the best fighters in the sport today. So I looked at their opponents and they each faced a considerable test, but because BJ was off for a year and MacDonald had a significant size advantage over him. I am going to go with Henderson as my choice. There are no losers here obviously, but Bendo was truly my MVP for the night.