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UFC on Fox 5 Parting Shots

By on December 12, 2012

Benson Henderson not only defeated Nate Diaz last Saturday night, but he did so soundly. There was no controversy to be had in this title defense, which is good for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that we can finally break the streak of immediate rematches for the lightweight title that have been happening since Frankie Edgar first edged BJ Penn for the belt in April of 2010.

It’s crazy, right? A UFC Lightweight Championship fight that doesn’t result in an immediate rematch because of some sort of controversy, whether real or imagined? It was so shocking that some fans began looking for some reason for a rematch right away, eventually settling on the idea that Henderson fighting with a toothpick in his mouth might have broken some well-hidden athletic commission rule that could result in Diaz getting another shot.

Yes, that’s ridiculously far-fetched, but we’ve been trained to expect rematches. The idea that a lightweight champion can simply (gasp!) defeat a challenger and then move on to the next one? Blasphemy!

But that’s just what Henderson will do after stylishly dispatching Diaz in a fight where he out-dueled the challenger standing up, dared to play around in Diaz’s guard, and beat him everywhere that the fight took them. We saw Henderson punch Diaz everywhere from the calf, knee, and thigh to the more conventional areas that we’re used to, while chopping away at Diaz’s legs with powerful kicks from the opening minutes to keep him from getting comfortable.

As the fight went on, Diaz’s super-classy decisions to flip off Henderson mid-fight and call him a “punk” while down four rounds to zero stopped looking the way that he likely hoped they looked- namely, “badass”- and started looking desperate. Diaz was like a spoiled child who, having been put in his place, lashes out any way that he can in an effort to retain some sort of control over the situation, however miniscule. Diaz couldn’t hurt Henderson with his punches or trap him in his submissions, so he resorted to the only thing that he could pull off- verbal abuse.

It didn’t matter. In the end, Henderson was the one who performed the only gesture that any fighter should be worried about during a bout when he got his hand raised by the referee. The craziness of a 50-43 score from Marcos Rosales aside, Henderson had earned a legitimate 50-45 victory over Diaz in what was as close to a flawless performance as we’ve seen at 155 pounds since BJ Penn was wearing the title.

A Tale of Two Layoffs

BJ Penn was fighting for the first time in over a year as he got throttled by Rory MacDonald. Meanwhile, Mike Swick was in just his second bout since 2010 as he tried to keep the momentum going from his win over DaMarques Johnson, only to find that Matt Brown had more than he could handle.

I feel for Swick, but not so much Penn. Swick has worked his ass off to get back in there, and though I never thought he was bona fide title contender material, he clearly believed in himself to be just that. I’m sure as he was on the long road back to active duty in the Octagon, he thought about all of his aspirations, none of which would include losing to Brown in two rounds on Fox.

Now, Penn claims that he all of a sudden cares about his legacy and wants to retroactively get all of the accolades that he hasn’t already earned. The problem is that we hear this talk about every 2-3 years from Penn and it never lasts. He said he was done division-hopping after his second loss to Georges St. Pierre, for instance, but after a dominating run at lightweight came to an end at the hands of Frankie Edgar, where did he go? Up, to face athletes who were even bigger, despite the fact that he has never really fared as well at welterweight as he has imagined he would.

With Edgar gone, why not drop back down to lightweight? It’s the only place where Penn may have something left to accomplish. At least, it’s the only place where he can actually do what he says he’d like to do, anyway.

Quick Shots

–Whoa, Dennis Siver means business. Aside from Alexander Gustafsson, nobody made a bigger leap in their division than Siver did, as he had a second straight excellent performance at his new weight of 145 pounds. He’s already got a bout booked with Cub Swanson for UFC on Fuel 7 in February, and if he wins that, I think he needs to get a title shot. I love watching Siver fight; his use of a diverse array of kicks is at once unpredictable and devastating to opponents.

–Welcome to the UFC, Scott Jorgensen. I’d been wondering when Jorgensen would be the beast that he was in the WEC again, and he finally showed UFC fans what he’s capable of on Saturday night. Here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of Jorgensen at his best.

–As someone who vividly remembers Yves Edwards in the pre-TUF days of the UFC, it was great seeing him turn back the clock with a beautiful, vicious counter that put down Jeremy Stephens before elbows on the mat put him away for good. Great performance by the veteran.

Say What?!?

That’s too dangerous, man, you can’t do that!

-Henderson, feigning ignorance when Joe Rogan asked him if he had been actually fighting with a toothpick in his mouth against Nate Diaz. And no, I have nothing to add to the toothpick story that hasn’t already been said a million times. Yes, it was foolish/dangerous/awesome/confusing/strange. I will say that I doubt I love anything in life as much as Benson Henderson loves toothpicks, though.

Adventures in Judging

For some reason, the judges went 10-8 crazy on Saturday night. Normally, fighters can’t buy a 10-8 round, but we saw them eleven of them spread across four fights at UFC on Fox 5. Incredibly, Terry Boehlke scored every round of Siver-Phan as a 10-8, leading to a lopsided 30-24 scorecard. Sal D’Amato gave Siver two 10-8 rounds, while Dave Hagen only scored one round that way, which was probably the most accurate approach, honestly.

We already talked about Marcos Rosales’ crazy 50-43 scorecard in Henderson-Diaz. D’Amato and Lester Griffin gave MacDonald a 10-8 round over Penn, and Hagen gave Alexander Gustafsson a 10-8 over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. How many of these were deserved? I don’t know about that, but at least all of the fights were lopsided enough that it didn’t matter one way or another.

Movin’ On Up Award

I don’t think Alexander Gustafsson is ready to beat Jon Jones, but he can certainly lay claim to having earned a title shot at this point. Gustafsson still doesn’t use his range as effectively as he should, and he ate some hard shots that he fortunately was able to withstand, but it was still an impressive performance as he defeated former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua with relative ease.

Holy $#!% Award

There were a lot of mindblowing moments that didn’t involve toothpicks, including Edwards’ counter knockdown of Stephens, Matt Brown’s knockout of Mike Swick, and Daron Cruickshank’s head kick KO of Henry Martinez. I think Cruickshank’s was the best of them, but hey, I’m a sucker for walk-off KOs.

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