Three rumored UFC on Fox 5 contests are now confirmed, as promotion officials announced Wednesday that Benson Henderson will defend his lightweight title against Nate Diaz at the Dec. 8 event.
Onetime light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will also compete on the card, locking horns with rising Swedish talent Alexander Gustafsson in the evening’s co-headliner, while former two-division titlist B.J. Penn squares off Canadian prospect Rory MacDonald. The location for UFC on Fox 5 has not yet been determined.
Henderson, 28, last competed just days ago at UFC 150, successfully defending his title by earning a controversial unanimous decision over ex-champ Frankie Edgar at Pepsi Center in Denver. “Smooth” has won five consecutive fights since joining the UFC last year.
Diaz rides a solid win streak of his own into his title shot, as the rangy Cesar Gracie protégé dominated Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Miller to earn his crack at the gold. The southpaw owns 11 of his 16 career victories by submission and has been finished just once in nearly eight years as a pro.
Rua enters the cage fresh off a technical knockout victory over Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4. The 30-year-old has won two of his last three since relinquishing the light heavyweight belt to Jon Jones at UFC 128, knocking out Forrest Griffin one year ago before dropping a hard-fought unanimous decision to Dan Henderson last November in a “Fight of the Year”-nominated performance.
Gustafsson, 25, has emerged victorious in six of his seven Octagon appearances, winning five straight fights leading up to his confrontation with Rua. “The Mauler” was last seen on April 14, when he outpointed Thiago Silva in the UFC on Fuel TV 2 headliner.
Penn has not competed since suffering a bloody decision defeat at the hands of former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz last October. “The Prodigy” has gone 1-1-1 since returning to the welterweight division after losing the lightweight title to Frankie Edgar, knocking out rival Matt Hughes before drawing with Jon Fitch last year at UFC 127.
Just 23 years old, MacDonald has been perfect as a pro save for a 2010 technical knockout defeat to current interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. “Ares” responded by posting three consecutive wins, most recently finishing Che Mills at UFC 145. MacDonald was initially supposed to meet Penn in September at UFC 152, but that booking was scrapped after the Canadian suffered a large cut during training.