Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Rocktagon Recap of UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz!

Featuring an ex-smack addict laying the smack down, a cocky Canadian serving up Hawaiian punch, a lanky Swede outlasting a Brazilian in ballhuggers and Nate Diaz getting creamed by a dude that knows his one and only weakness - toothpicks? 


Well folks, it’s time for another UFC on Fox card, which, for the most part, have fluctuated in quality from bad (the second one) to kinda’ awesome (the third one) to the “Oh crap, I forgot there was a UFC show on free cable tonight” (the fourth one.) Tonight’s event, on el papel, anyway, looks to be one of the more promising shows of the year, with an up-and-coming welterweight contender doing battle with an MMA icon, two Light Heavyweight contenders duking it out for a potential crack at a title shot come 2013 and a guaranteed barn-burner main event, in which the multi-skilled Lightweight champion of the world goes toe-to-toe with one of the sport’s best 155 pound strikers.

Hey, who needs college football when we’ve got kimuras and head kicks, anyway! Welcome, ya’ll, to the Rocktagon Recap of UFC ON FOX: HENDERSON VS. DIAZ!

We are coming to you LIVE from Seattle, Washington, while I try my best to make a deep-dish last three hours without getting booted out of the neighborhood pizza joint here in the metro-ATL. As always, our hosts are Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, although the middle-aged African-American woman who sounds suspiciously like Tyler Perry doing live commentary behind me is seriously better at play-by-play than both of them.

Welterweight Bout
Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick

I never get tired of telling the origin story behind Matt Brown’s nickname, “The Immortal,” since it’s actually derived from a near-lethal heroin overdoes he had back in his youth. He’s also fighting out of Xenia, Ohio, which as we all know, is the town where the legendary 1997 masterpiece “Gummo” was filmed. Swick, on the other hand, is some dude.

Round one begins, and Brown gets an automatic takedown. Brown looking for a choke, but Swick escapes and lands on top. Now Brown’s gunning for a triangle. And now, the two are all tied together, like a pretzel trying to yank itself apart. Swick gets nothing out of a guillotine attempt, and Brown lands a solid knee as the round expires.

Brown and Swick circle to begin the second round. Brown lands some elbow shots, and then a knee. Brown connects with a right and drops Swick with a nasty left. The referee pounces on the carcass, and “The Immortal” is now undefeated in his last four UFC bouts.

Welterweight Bout
Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn

For whatever reason, the Seattle locals are absolutely HATING on MacDonald, while cheering B.J. like he was Hulk Hogan or something. Clinch to begin, and MacDonald is already finding his range against “The Prodigy.” Penn throws some rights, and lands a left. Penn looking for a takedown, but it ain’t happening. Now MacDonald is gunning for a takedown, and he can’t land one, either. The round concludes with MacDonald chasing Penn around the cage, throwing an entire wardrobe of high kicks his way.

MacDonald begins the second by emphasizing some low kicks. And now, he decides to turn on the jab machine. Rory connects with a left and several kicks, and Penn looks hurt. Penn trying to land, but MacDonald is out striking him by a ratio of nearly 5-to-1. A body shot by MacDonald has Penn wobbling. MacDonald swarms Penn, and the Hawaiian is eating lefts and rights en masse. Penn is pretty much defenseless at this point, and now Rory is dancing a’ la Anderson Silva. And to make things worse? He lands a last second takedown as the round expires. An absolute destruction at the hands of MacDonald at this point.

Penn begins with the third with an ill-advised takedown attempt. The two clinch against the cage, and the ref brings them center-cage. MacDonald bullies Penn up against the cage, and like NASCAR, we’ve got nothing but lefts. Penn’s face looks like a melted Mr. Potato Head now. MacDonald really doesn’t need to go for a knockout here, so he just keeps head kicking Penn, who sort of looks like he’s looking beside his opponent to see if some invisible monster is tag-teaming him. A unanimous decision victory for MacDonald, who called out Carlos Condit in the post-fight. Probably the worst beating of Penn’s life, and considering that second GSP bout, that’s saying a whole lot.

Light Heavyweight Bout
Alexander Gustaffson vs. Mauricio Rua

Both dudes are wearing those shorts with set of owl eyes on the back of them. And also, both competitors are rocking shorts so tight, you can actually see some gooch outline on broadcast television. The Swede lands a punch early, which results in Rua dropping to the canvas and seeking an ankle pick. Rua looking for some knee shots and a takedown, but no dice. Gustaffson looks for a takedown, and he gets one, but Rua is right back up. Now Rua is a tornado of knees, thigh kicks and hard rights. Gustaffson charging back with kicks and a right. Rua bleeds, as the round closes with Gustaffson trying to land another takedown.

Rua begins the second with a series of consecutive rights. He looks for a left, and misses. Gustaffson still working for a takedown, and decides to chip in some knee strikes while he’s there. Gustaffson with two takedowns in a row. The round ends with both dudes swinging, but neither really connecting. A pretty even contest heading into the third and decisive round.

“Shogun” still working the overhand rights. Gustaffson with another takedown, and Rua tries to escape. Now Gustaffson has his adversary’s back. Rua up, and Gustaffson with yet another takedown. Gustaffson with a nasty uppercut once thing’s get vertical again. About two minutes to go, and Gustaffson is grinding Rua against the cage. A last second takedown from the Swede more than secures it for Gustaffson, who wins on all three judge’s scoring cards.

UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT
Benson Henderson (Champion) vs. Nate Diaz (Challenger)

Diaz comes out with his brother en tow. Henderson comes out with an American flag on his back, and he’s all uncharacteristically jumpy and stuff. Henderson working low kicks early, and Diaz tries to bully the champ against the cage. Henderson shoots for a takedown, but doesn’t get it. Henderson pushes Diaz against the cage, and is successful with his second takedown attempt. Diaz up, and the defending champ brings him back down to the mat. Henderson with some ground and pound, and Diaz is back up…that is, until the champ sends him crashing to the canvas with a judo sweep. We go vertical once more, and Henderson is clearly landing more jabs. Henderson defends the takedown as the first round expires.

Henderson with a takedown to begin the second round. Henderson just teeing off on Diaz now, but the challenger regains his footing. The two are trading, and Henderson is landing far more than his opponent. Henderson looks for a takedown, and then he drops Diaz with a heavy left. Henderson on top, and just mauling his adversary. Henderson almost has his back, but Diaz manages to defend. Diaz with a beautiful hip toss, and the second ends with Diaz dropping his arms and inviting the champ to dance.

Henderson is really throwing Diaz off with his feints. Henderson with a takedown, and Diaz trying for a guillotine. Not happening. Henderson with another takedown, and Diaz is absorbing tons of shots from the top. Henderson goes for a choke, and Diaz looks for an ankle lock. The suits at Fox get a little antsy, so all of a sudden, the camera pans back from the cheap seats, sort of like how they used to splice in that footage of the Japanese ring girl winking at the camera whenever somebody got busted open when PRIDE was shown on Fox Sports. Henderson with another takedown, and Diaz is pissed. Henderson on top, raining punches as the round concludes. So far, this is definitely shaping up to be a fight of the year contender.

Fourth round begins, and Diaz looks for a takedown. Henderson decides to counter, and lands a takedown of his own. Henderson looking for a choke, but it’s all for naught. He responds by immediately landing another takedown and re-focusing on his ground and pound efforts. Diaz up, but Henderson instantly drags him back down. Diaz looks totally exhausted now. Henderson just crushing Diaz, who knows better than to hop into his guard. Diaz needs to stop Henderson in the fifth, or else his title dreams are about to go out the window.

Henderson bullies Diaz against the cage and drops him with a monster slam. Diaz is pretty much done for, as Henderson rains fists and elbows from above. Diaz manages to get back to his feet - and even scores a takedown - but Henderson easily manages to snake his way out and get on top of Diaz again. With a minute to go, Diaz tries to bait his foe into a bar fight, but Henderson, knowing that he’s got this one in the bag, decides to simply head kick the challenger a few times and call it a night. An across the board decision, as Henderson triumphantly defends his Lightweight Strap in the Pacific Northwest.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? After manhandling Diaz, it seems like a sure thing that Henderson’s next opponent will be soon-to-be Strikeforce export Gilbert Melendez - long considered to be one of the best lightweight fighters on the planet for several years now. Nate, however, will most likely find himself taking on the winner of the upcoming Jim Miller/Joe Lauzon bout, in an early 2013 contest that may raise Diaz’s stock after tonight’s less than impressive showing.

While Gustaffson looked commanding in his fight against Rua, it may be just a tad too early to put him in the cage for a Light Heavyweight title shot; how about letting the towering Swede do battle with the winner of the upcoming Dan Henderson/Lyoto Machida bout to find out who really deserves the next crack at Jon Jones? As for Rua, his title aspirations may have floated out of the building following his bout’s outcome; with that in mind, how about giving him a shot at the loser of the upcoming Rashad Evans/Lil’ Nog match-up come spring 2013?

Rory MacDonald looked impressive as hell tonight, and since he wants Carlos Condit, I say let him have him. B.J. Penn, however looked like a dude whose time has seriously come and gone; unless he mulls a drop to a lower weight class, I’d say his fighting days are all but done for.

And lastly, Matt Brown looked quite amazing in defeating Mike Swick; why not put him in the cage against a veteran like Josh Koscheck and see if this dude is for real?

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: The third round of the main event was pretty cool, and overall, the Rua/Gustaffson fight was kinda’ enjoyable.

SHOW LOWLIGHT: Not really a negative, but I kinda’ wished the Daron Cruickshank Knockout-of-the-year-contender against Henry Martinez would have made the live show.

ROGAN-ISM OF THE NIGHT: “You are a crazy man” - uttered to Benson Henderson, upon learning that he fights with a toothpick in his mouth.

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM TONIGHT’S SHOW

- Cage fighting is a more effective than methadone.

- There are more Hawaiians in the arena where the SuperSonics used to play than in Hawaii.

-  Brazilian jiu-jitsu is useless when your opponent has arms measurable in kilometers.

- Having a perm that you have to brush out of your eyes every five seconds doesn’t seem to hinder a fighter as much as you’d assume.

- The more wooden utensils you chew on during a fight, the more likely you are to emerge victorious.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Crank up “Knowledge God” by Raekwon and “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (no, seriously), and I will be seeing you in a few.

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