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Cocky Diaz given a beating by champ Henderson

ESPN staff
December 9, 2012 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Nate Diaz taunted, mocked and abused UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in Saturday's UFC on Fox 5 main event, but he had little to back it up as Henderson owned the challenger in an incredibly impressive victory in Seattle.

Henderson, now on a six-fight win streak in the UFC, landed 133 significant strikes in a quite supreme display, during which he kicked the lead leg off Diaz, outwrestled him and floored him on more than one occasion. The 50-43 50-45 50-45 decision, rendered by the judges, could be argued by nobody.

Diaz had owned Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone heading into the contest, but within one round his legs had been taken from under him by Henderson. It was the perfect gameplan for the champ, who picked apart his rival's flat-footed approach, and at the end of the stanza all Diaz could do was square up to his foe - clearly rattled.

Things were about to get worse for him. Henderson opened round two by setting up a single-leg takedown with another leg kick, and then he unleashed some ground-and-pound. Returning to the feet, the champ jabbed Diaz's knee before dropping him with a straight left - the crowd roaring him back to his stool.

By the start of the third Henderson had already landed 60 significant strikes, and the only danger appeared to be when he went to the mat, where Diaz looked for a toehold. In the stand-up it was one-way traffic, and when Diaz beckoned his man to fight, he promptly got floored by another big Henderson punch.

More of the same followed in the championship rounds as Diaz found himself slammed into the mat, with Henderson pounding away from all angles. The champ even appeared to pull a toothpick out of his mouth at the final klaxon, such was the sheer comfort zone that he created on home soil.

The night's co-main event saw super Swede Alexander Gustafsson score the biggest win of his career against former light-heavyweight champion Mauricio Shogun Rua, claiming a 30-27 30-27 30-26 decision after a back-and-forth war. Both men were grounded at different stages of the bout, but it was Gustafsson who became the growing force as the fight advanced.

The first round threatened to go either way. Shogun was dropped early, but almost locked on a kneebar as Gustafsson stepped in for the finish. The Brazilian then sent Gustafsson to the mat, but it was the Swede who landed more frequently.

Shogun continued to threaten with the overhand right that finished Lyoto Machida two years ago, but Gustafsson landed takedowns and knees out of the clinch, hurting Shogun in the third with a liver shot. A big right and a front kick to the face cemented his dominance as Shogun's swollen face told the story, and if Dana White is to be believed the Swede will now get the next 205lb title shot after Chael Sonnen.

The much anticipated return of BJ Penn turned into a 15-minute showcase of the growing talents of Rory MacDonald, who looks more like a champion-in-waiting with every passing fight. Penn showed heart and ambition against his more athletic and powerful opponent, but MacDonald schooled him on his feet for a unanimous 30-26 30-26 30-27 decision.

It had been expected that MacDonald would beat the Prodigy on the ground, but he went to work with hooks to the body, leg kicks and head kicks, wobbling Penn late in the first round with a short elbow.

The most dominant stanza was the second, with a body kick visibly crumpling Penn before several follow-up hooks to the body continued to cut him in half as MacDonald treated him like a punchbag. The legendary former champion survived, but after a check from the doctor Penn took more punishment in the third, with MacDonald taunting his foe before the end by dropping his hands and performing the Ali shuffle.

In the night's opening main card bout, Matt Brown looked fantastic in a second-round knockout of Mike Swick in the welterweight division. Brown finished the fight by planting both fists on the chin of his rival at 2.31 in the second, and may now be headed for a showdown with England's John Hathaway.

The first round produced an intriguing ground war won by Brown as he threatened with D'arce and triangle chokes. He looked a step ahead of Swick in all areas and so it proved in the second as he launched forward with a right-left combo that turned out the lights.

UFC on Fox 5 results:
Benson Henderson bt Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (50-43 50-45 50-45)
Alexander Gustafsson bt Mauricio Shogun Rua via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-26)
Rory MacDonald bt BJ Penn via unanimous decision (30-26 30-26 30-27)
Matt Brown bt Mike Swick via KO at 2.31 of round 2
Yves Edwards bt Jeremy Stephens via KO at 1:55 of round 1
Raphael Assuncao bt Mike Easton via unanimous decision (29-28 30-27 30-27)
Ramsey Nijem bt Joe Proctor via unanimous decision (30-27 29-28 29-28)
Daron Cruickshank bt Henry Martinez via KO at 2:57 of round 2
Abel Trujillo bt Marcus LeVesseur via TKO at 3:56 of round 2
Dennis Siver bt Nam Phan via unanimous decision (30-26 30-25 30-24)
Scott Jorgensen bt John Albert via rear-naked choke at 4:59 of round 1

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