By BOB EMANUEL JR. | Scripps Howard News Service
Decisions have defined the last two years of Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Benson Henderson’s career.
Henderson needed to go the distance in all six of his fights in the span. He lost the first — a World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight championship bout to challenger Anthony Pettis — in December 2010. Since then, Henderson won each of his five fights, including his last two against Frankie Edgar. Henderson, 17-2, scored a unanimous decision over Edgar for the UFC title in February and won a split decision in an August rematch.
“I think the first two Frankie fights — the first one was close and everyone was hoping that the second one wouldn’t be as close,” Henderson said. “… But, sadly the second one was even closer than the first one. It is what it is.”
Henderson may have to extend his streak of decisions to seven this weekend when he defends his title against Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC on Fox 5, which will be held at the KeyArena in Seattle and air live on Fox at 3 p.m. HST.
Diaz, 16-7, won each of his three bouts since moving back from welterweight to lightweight, and nine of his 11 victories in the UFC came via knockout or submission. Diaz’s five UFC losses, however, came via decisions.
“I’m just trying to get a W,” Henderson said. “I’m trying to get my hand raised however I can get it. He slips on a banana peel, I’ll take it. If it’s a decisive victory, I’ll take it. If it’s a closer razor-thin decision, even closer than the second Frankie fight, I’ll take that, too.
“Getting a W is not easy to come by in the UFC going against the best guy literally on the planet. I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
The event also includes the return of former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn, the Hilo product who announced his retirement last October after a loss to Nick Diaz in the UFC 137 main event.
Penn, who turns 34 next week, decided to resume his career earlier this year.
“I was just kind of hanging out,” said Penn, 16-8-2. “I started to get the itch that I wanted to fight again. It’s better than staying at home sitting on the couch, and I realized I can’t do this forever so I might as well make the most of it while I can.”
Penn’s return will not be easy. His opponent, Rory MacDonald, lost just once in his 14 professional fights — a knockout by former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in June of 2010.
“I think he’s a great opponent,” Penn said. “He’s an up-and-comer. He’s one of the top guys. Everybody says he’s going to be a champion soon. So ending up fighting with somebody like Rory, it wasn’t a … tough decision.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will face rising prospect Alexander Gustafsson on the televised card, which also includes welterweights Mike Swick and Matt Brown.
The preliminaries, which air live on FX and Fox Deportes at noon HST, include: lightweights Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens; bantamweights Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton; lightweights Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor; and lightweights Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez.
Three additional fights — featherweights Dennis Siver vs. Nam Phan, bantamweights Scott Jorgensen vs. John Albert and lightweights Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo — can be seen 90 minutes earlier at www.facebook.com/UFC.