After the UFC offering this weekend showcasing GSP vs Condit for the Welterweight title, the next event for the biggest MMA company in the world is the ‘UFC on FOX 5′ card, scheduled for December 8th in Seattle, Washington. That card features a Lightweight title defense for Champion Ben Henderson, as he takes on top contender Nate Diaz. A lightheavyweight match may decide the first contender for Jon Jones title in 2013, as Alexander Gustafsson faces Mauricio Rua. In the Welterweight division, up and coming Rory MacDonald faces his stiffest test yet in veteran star BJ Penn. Let’s take a peak at where the odds sit for these bouts, as we are less than a month away!
In the main event, the books have installed Henderson as a very slight favorite as he sits at -155, with the comeback being +125 on Diaz. It will be interesting to see how this line settles closer to fight time. Will the public come in on Diaz and narrow the margin? I hope it goes the other way, because I am picking Diaz in this fight. Nate’s high rate of activity will be hard to keep up with and win rounds for Henderson if it is a standup fight, and Henderson has grown more methodical as champion. On the ground, Henderson is a wizard at escaping submissions, but Diaz will pressure him, and if you are defending and escaping, you are losing the fight. I like Diaz’ chances, especially at five rounds.
For Gustafsson-Rua, the books have installed the European as a stronger favorite, -215 with the return on Rua sitting at +175. Gustafsson, who is 6-1 overall in the UFC, does not really have the quality of opponents that Rua has. Rua’s last 9 rounds, against a rejuvenated Brandon Vera (4), and a full five with Dan Henderson could be the kind of rounds that take a fighter who is 30 to the b side of his career. In both those matches however, Rua continued to show incredible grit and fortitude. He took Vera out in the 4th, and he probably won the 4th and 5th rounds against a tiring Henderson. There may be some value here in this underdog, especially if the public continues to bet Gustafsson.
Rory MacDonald is coming in a -260 favorite to upend BJ Penn, who has a comeback line of +210 three weeks out. There are a lot of reasons why Penn is unlikely too win this fight. Penn has been off for a year, and his record in 2010 and 2011 is a poor 1-3-1. He lost two bouts to Frankie Edgar at 155 lbs, which used to be his most dominant weight, he got beat up by Nick Diaz, and has a Draw with Jon Fitch. His lone win is a fast KO of old rival Matt Hughes, who has been flirting with retirement as is no longer a threat. At the end of the day, it is going to be MacDonald who pressures Penn and wins rounds to earn a decision.