By Jaime C. Feal
The fourth UFC on Fox show of 2012 featured many big names worthy of a pay-per-view. The trend of the night was the new generation of fighters establishing themselves, as Rory MacDonald completely dominated BJ Penn and likely sent the hall of famer into retirement for good. After the victory, MacDonald called out Carlos Condit, the only defeat of his career, saying he wanted to get revenge for the loss. Another changing of the guard was witnessed in the UFC Light Heavyweight division as Alexander Gustafsson handily defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The best MMA prospect to come out of Europe in a decade, Gustafsson is now one fight away from a title shot, if that.
Earlier in the night on FX, the prelims featured two sensational finishes. Former TUF Live competitor Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruikshank knocked Henry Martinez out clean with an impressive head kick. In the final fight of the night on FX, the “Thug-jitsu Master” Yves Edwards made a big statement by being the first ever man to KO Jeremy Stephens. Edwards clipped Stephens with a beautiful short right hook that dropped him, and when Edwards followed up with a hard elbow on the ground, the referee had no choice but to intervene as Stephens had been knocked unconscious. With the statement win, Yves Edwards announced he is still a force to be reckoned with in the UFC lightweight division.
Starting off the main card, Matt “The Immortal” Brown picked up the biggest win of his career over UFC veteran Mike “Quick” Swick. After a competitive first round, Brown took over in the second, landing a big combination that put Swick out cold on the cage. Swick has now lost 3 of his last 4 fights inside the promotion and is one loss away from being cut. Brown, on the other hand, is now on a four fight win streak and a couple wins away from title contention.
Welterweight Division (170 lbs.):
Rory “Ares” MacDonald (13-1, 4-1 UFC) vs. B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2 UFC)
BJ rushes in for a single but bails on it. The welterweights are clinched on the cage, Rory with the better position. MacDonald tries a headkick but it is blocked. Rory again pressing BJ on the cage. Rory lands a leg kick. MacDonald working several jabs. Hard leg kick by Rory, controlling the standup. BJ Penn finally lands a nice right hand. Penn again grazes him with a straight right. MacDonald lighter on his feet, BJ more stationary target. The fighters trade jabs halfway through the first round. More leg kicks from MacDonald. Penn gets a brief takedown on the cage but Rory gets back up. Good elbow by Rory. Nice jab from “The Prodigy.” Left hook to the body by Rory, another jab from BJ. MacDonald shoots for a single but it is well defended by Penn. More kicks from Rory. A standing elbow from MacDonald wobbles Penn. MacDonald lands a jab but is cautious not to leave himself open. Another elbow attempt from MacDonald. Left hook from Rory, all “Ares” to end the first round. 10-9 round for MacDonald.
Penn tries to jab but just eating leg kicks. BJ clearly just looking for a kill shot, but missing. Rory with another jab. MacDonald with a nasty combo on the cage. Vicious body shot by MacDonald. Jab and front kick from Rory. Penn lands a nice right hand. MacDonald controlling the action with combos and footwork. Good body kick from Rory. Penn is on the cage just getting teed off on. MacDonald nailing him with all sorts of combos to the body and head, looking like the Nick Diaz fight. Ref Herb Dean taking a close look, Penn is barely hanging in there. MacDonald is picking him apart and talking to him. More body work from Rory, has Penn hurt. MacDonald more jabs. Rory takes Penn down with a double leg, rides out the round with top control. 10-9 round for MacDonald.
MacDonald lands another jab, Penn rushes in and clinches. BJ tries an inside leg trip and again very briefly gets Rory down. MacDonald is way too big and just gets up with ease. MacDonald again has Penn clinched on the cage, Penn clearly tired. MacDonald tags BJ with a one-two, then a switch kick. Rory doing lots of feinting now, hands completely down, no respect for the aging Penn. One minute to go in the fight, more jabs from “Ares.” Penn tries a right hand but misses, eats a left hook. MacDonald with a big elbow and a left to the body. Dominant performance from Rory. 10-9 round for MacDonald.
The judges score the fight 30-26, 30-26, and 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision Rory “Ares” MacDonald.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-6, 5-4 UFC) vs. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson (14-1, 6-1 UFC)
The fighters touch gloves and right away Shogun gets dropped by a quick and powerful strike from “the Mauler.” Gustafsson is all over Rua with right hands on the ground. Shogun rolls into a heel hook and it is pretty deep, but Gustafsson gets out and up. Shogun with a nice knee on the cage as Alex got up. Rua eats some more strikes from Gustafsson, then gets taken down. Back on the feet, now Rua lands a right hand that drops Gustafsson. Rua can’t keep him down, Gustafsson gets up. Another knee from Shogun. Gustafsson lands a knee himself. And another big knee from Gustafsson. Good outside leg kick from Rua. Gustafsson showing superior movement but the round has been very even thus far. Shogun bleeding from the nose. Knee to the body from Gustafsson. The light heavyweights trade knees in the clinch to end the round. 10-9 round for Gustafsson.
Shogun and Gustafsson begin trading right away. Good leg kick by Gustafsson. Nice right hand by Shogun. Very nice left hook from Rua. Gustafsson getting hit a lot more than usual. Gustafsson briefly gets a takedown but the cage saves Rua from being on his back. Nice whizzer by Gustafsson, almost tosses Rua down. Gustafsson winds up on top in a scramble. Gustafsson working body shots. Gustafsson lets Shogun up. Rua lands a solid right hand. Gustafsson gets another takedown and lands in half guard. Rua gets up nicely. Gustafsson gets a nice inside leg trip and tags Shogun with a knee when he gets up. Big knee to the head from “the Mauler.” Shogun fading towards the end of the round, misses with punches, does connect with an outside leg kick. 10-9 round for Gustafsson.
Good right hand by Shogun, knee in response from Gustafsson. Shogun again tries an overhand right, and Gustafsson ducks under and hits another takedown. A scramble ensues where Gustafsson gets Shoguns back, then Rua rolls for a kneebar and into guard. They get back up, and this is still anyone’s fight. Rua looks the more tired of the two, however. Good left hook from Shogun. Gustafsson gets yet another easy takedown. Shogun giving the fight away by getting taken down. Gustafsson lands an elbow on the ground, then lets Rua up. Shogun getting tagged with shots now, taking big breaths from all the punishment to the body. Gustafsson doesn’t realize how hurt he is; too methodical in his attack. Gustafsson could have finished him there. Big front kick to the face by Gustafsson. “The Mauler” gets a takedown to end the fight. 10-9 round for Gustafsson.
The judges score the fight 30-27, 30-27, and 30-26 for the winner by unanimous decision, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson.
UFC Lightweight Championship (155 lbs.):
Benson “Smooth” Henderson (17-2, 5-0 UFC) vs. Nate Diaz (16-7, 11-5 UFC)
Henderson starts with a couple leg kicks. Tries another and misses, Diaz seizes the opportunity to clinch. Diaz working some knees. Henderson spins him on the cage and knees back. They continue to struggle and grapple on the cage, with Benson briefly getting a takedown. Diaz is landing more strikes on the cage. Good elbow on the break by Diaz. Ben with a hard leg kick, gets a takedown. Hammerfists from Henderson. Diaz gives up his back, but stands up. Henderson with another hard outside leg kick, trips Diaz down. “Smooth” follows up with good ground and pound before Diaz gets back up. Knee to the body from Benson, Diaz answers with one of his own. Henderson controls the end of the round with a combo and clinch work. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Another vicious leg kick from Henderson almost knocks Diaz down. Henderson gets a takedown, lands two very hard right hands to the dome of Nate. Henderson lands an enormous head kick as Diaz gets up. A weary Diaz clinches Henderson for dear life. Henderson kneeing the legs. Diaz slowly recovering on the cage. Good elbow from Benson. Another nice elbow on the break from Henderson. Good left hook from Diaz. Henderson lands several jabs to the legs of Diaz, which sets up a punch to the head that drops Diaz bad. Henderson swarms and Diaz is in a completely defensive guard. Diaz gives up his back to get up again. Henderson controlling Diaz on the cage, until Diaz lands a sick toss. Diaz briefly is on top, but Henderson escapes to his feet. Benson with another hard outside leg kick. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Another kick from the champion. Diaz’s bad habit of never checking leg kicks is catching up with him. Diaz misses with punches. Henderson gets another takedown, lands solid ground and pound. Diaz gets up to his feet after a scramble, but Henderson again takes him down. Benson landing more punches. One-sided fight. Henderson and Diaz exchange leg locks, Diaz has the more dangerous hold. Henderson breaks out and lands a big right hand, briefly takes the back of Diaz. Henderson again caught in a leg lock, gets up and escapes. Henderson nails Diaz with a right hand that puts him on his back again. Henderson pounces and lands more punches, until Diaz again rolls for a leg lock. Benson escapes and lands an axe kick to the body. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Henderson gets yet another takedown, lands a few shots. Nate gives his back to get up, only to be taken down. Diaz gives up his back again, turtling now. Diaz eats a couple shots and gets up again. Henderson just keeps winning all the scrambles and repeatedly taking Diaz down, as the pattern continues for another minute. Henderson in half guard landing more ground and pound, Diaz working for a kimura. Benson escapes and lands a hard right hand. Big elbow from the champ. More solid ground and pound from Henderson, just imposing his will on Diaz. Benson hasn’t been in danger this whole fight. Diaz gets up but does nothing to end the round. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Henderson misses with a punch and the lightweights clinch up on the cage. Huge slam from Benson, follows up with several punches to the head. Diaz only has a hail mary submission of a chance at his point. Henderson turning up the heat now, landing elbows and solid punches. Diaz face is all swollen up, really showing the damage Henderson has inflicted. Diaz gets up but is again being controlled. Henderson completely stifling Diaz’s attack. The pattern of takedowns and ground and pound continues, and Henderson raises his hand as the horn sounds. 10-9 round for Henderson.
The judges score the fight 50-43, 50-45, and 50-45 for the winner by unanimous decision, and still the UFC lightweight champion of the world, Benson “Smooth” Henderson.