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Diaz set for UFC main event against Henderson

This news story was published on December 7, 2012.
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By Carlos Arias, The Orange County Register –

Nate Diaz trains with a formidable team that includes his brother, Nick, a former Strikeforce welterweight champion, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, and reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.

“My whole team has been champions somewhere down the line,” Diaz said. “Maybe it’s my turn to represent for my team.”

Impressive victories over Jim Miller, Donald Ceronne and Takanori Gomi landed Diaz a shot at UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event at UFC on Fox 5 on Saturday at 5 p.m. at KeyArena in Seattle.

Diaz, a black belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu, fought his way into the UFC by winning Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Diaz is a veteran of 16 fights in the octagon with an 11-5 mark in the UFC.

“If you’re not in the UFC already, TUF is a good shortcut and way to go about it,” Diaz said. “I don’t like sitting in a house with all those dudes.”

“The guys come up through ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’” UFC president Dana White said. “Nate Diaz has been fighting for years. He’s fought everybody.

“The guys that come off ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ it’s our Triple-A to introduce our guys, but Diaz and (Mike) Swick and a lot of these guys have been around for a long time.”


Here are the UFC on Fox5 main card bouts that air starting at 5 p.m.: Henderson (17-2) vs. Diaz (16-7); Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-6) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (14-1); Rory MacDonald (13-1) vs. BJ Penn (16-8-2); and Mike Swick (15-4) vs. Matt Brown (15-11).

Here are the UFC on Fox5 prelims that air on FX at 2p.m.: Yves Edwards (41-18-1) vs. Jeremy Stephens (20-8); Raphael Assuncao (18-4) vs. Mike Easton (13-1); Ramsey Nijem (6-2) vs. Joe Proctor (8-1); Daron Cruickshank (11-2) vs. Henry Martinez (9-2); Tim Means (18-3-1) vs. Abel Trujillo (9-4); and Dennis Siver (20-8) vs. Nam Phan (18-10). Scott Jorgensen (13-6) vs. John Albert (7-3) streams on Facebook at 1:30 p.m.

MacDonald, 23, who is one of UFC welterweight champion Georges St.Pierre’s main training partners, is considered one of the rising stars in the UFC’s welterweight division.

He has put together an impressive string of victories over Che Mills, Mike Pyle and Diaz. His fight against Penn at UFC on Fox 5 represents the biggest test of his career.

Rua faces Gustafsson in an important fight in the UFC’s 205-pound division at UFC on Fox 5, but inevitably Rua gets hit with questions about UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who scored a brutal fourth-round TKO over the Brazilian in 2011.

“It’s important to take (everything) step by step right now, and I’m focusing on this fight,” Rua said. “Everything can change after that. Right now, (it’s all) about the fight against Gustafsson.”

Rua turned down an opportunity to face Jones in a rematch at UFC 151 when Jones’ opponent, Dan Henderson, was injured and had to pull out of the fight. Rua caught some heat from many fans for declining the rematch. UFC 151 ended up getting canceled.

“I was off — totally off training — when the UFC invites me to fight against Jones,” Rua said. “Everybody knew that I was off those two weeks after my fight against (Brandon) Vera. So I am satisfied. I told the UFC that I just need six weeks, but I was explaining that (two weeks) is not enough time.”

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