After receiving a lot of positive feedback on "Road to the Octagon" for UFC on FOX 4 last August, UFC President Dana White today announced the special preview show will return for UFC on FOX 5, which takes place next Saturday night (Dec. 8, 2012) from KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.
"Road to the Octagon" for UFC on FOX 5 is first set to air this Sunday afternoon (Dec. 2, 2012) at roughly 2-3 p.m. ET, immediately following NFL on FOX coverage.
According to White's announcement on Tuesday's UFC on FOX 5 pre-fight media conference call, the one-hour special will feature main event competitors Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz, co-main event fighters Mauricio Rua and Alexander Gustafsson, as well as the two men slated to meet in featured welterweight bout on the card, B.J. Penn and Rory MacDonald.
Henderson (17-2) successfully defended his lightweight championship for the first time when he defeated Frankie Edgar by split decision at UFC 150. "Smooth" is unbeaten under the UFC banner at 5-0 and has gone the distance in six-straight fights. He will attempt to defend his belt for the second time against Diaz.
Diaz (16-7) earned his shot at the title when he submitted Jim Miller in the main event of UFC on FOX 3 in May. The 27-year-old is unbeaten in his last three fights, defeating Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and most recently Miller. UFC on FOX 5 marks Diaz's second consecutive fight on FOX and he will look to continue his winning ways in the first championship fight of his career.
Rua (21-6) was also recently featured on a FOX event, knocking out Brandon Vera in the headliner of UFC on FOX 4 last August. "Shogun" is 3-3 in his last six fights, alternating wins and loses. The 31-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion will have a chance to prove he is still championship material when he takes on the young-gun Gustafsson in the co-main event.
Gustafsson (14-1) faces a former world champion for the first time in his career when he meets "Shogun." The Swedish light heavyweight is 6-1 under the UFC banner and has sat on the sidelines nursing injuries since his April win over Thiago Silva. Gustafsson has a huge opportunity to take on a legend of the sport in Rua and will look to make a name for himself at the expense of the Brazilian.
The Penn vs. MacDonald bout was originally scheduled for UFC 152 on Sept. 22, but a large cut suffered by MacDonald in training forced the welterweight contest to be rebooked for December.
Penn (16-8-2) retired from the sport of mixed martial arts following his lopsided unanimous decision loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October of 2011. It was the consensus among MMA fans that the future UFC Hall-of-Famer was going to be lulled back to the sport eventually, but his choice to come out of retirement to face MacDonald was somewhat surprising. The 33-year-old is 1-3-1 in his last five bouts and will look to get back on the winning track by taking out the talented up-and-comer.
MacDonald (13-1) challenged Penn to the fight earlier this year on Ariel Helwani's "The MMA Hour" podcast, and while many felt the challenge would go unanswered, Penn accepted just days later. At just 23 years old, MacDonald is already 4-1 under the UFC banner with impressive wins over Mike Pyle and Nate Diaz, with his lone lose coming to former interim UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Penn is undoubtedly the biggest name MacDonald has been matched up thus far in his career, and the bout will show the true potential of the British Columbia native.