Boxing, MMA to take over Saturday night

If you enjoy high-octane, gut-wrenching sports involving haymakers and knockouts, Saturday night is right up your alley.

Viewers can enjoy watching a marathon of real-life warriors going toe to toe in championship bouts.

Primetime television on FOX and HBO provide high-caliber fights from the UFC and boxing all through the evening.

In the octagon, Benson Henderson will defend his title against Nate Diaz for the lightweight championship in UFC on Fox 5. The KeyArena in Seattle will host the one of the most hyped fight cards of the year. Not only will it one of the best cards of the year, but it comes as a Christmas present from the UFC — it’s free.

Henderson is coming off a controversial championship belt rematch with Frankie Edgar — one that many viewed as an Edgar victory. “Smooth” Henderson has since put that behind him, and strives to continue his reign in the lightweight class. Diaz seems to have other plans, as his pride and never give up motivation hold the upper hand.

But will it be enough to dethrone the heartiest of hearts?

Henderson holds the crowd advantage being a previous native to the Emerald City, and he should be a deciding factor in the championship bout.

Light heavyweight veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will face off with young up-and-comer Alexander Gustafsson.

Gustafsson is seeking his sixth-straight victory, and this win would be his seventh successful bout in the UFC out of his last eight.

Prior to the Rua versus Gustafsson brawl, another veteran will take on a UFC rookie.

Did we mention this fight is free?

Long-time UFC champion and Hawaii native B.J. Penn returns from retirement to go head-to-head with Rory MacDonald, who has won his last two fights by technical knockout and a unanimous decision over fellow-card fighter Nate Diaz. MacDonald’s only loss on his resume is to the highly touted Carlos Condit.

This card presents every MMA viewers wildest dreams. When Scott Jorgensen isn’t mentioned in the advertising, but is still fighting, that’s when the card proves to be nothing shy of compelling.

To have a card without Jon Jones, Anderson Silva or George St. Pierre becomes a concern for viewers. But to have a card full of highly competitive, never-quit fighters becomes a whole different story. The UFC on Fox 5 will definitely go down as one of the best cards of the year that unfortunately had to wait until December.

Did we mention this card was free?

On that same night as Henderson-Diaz bout, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be going toe-to-toe against each other.

Their welterweight bout will be the fighters’ fourth of their ten-year rivalry, which has been filled with nothing but controversy.

The first meeting ended in a draw — a fight that saw Pacquiao knocking down Marquez three times in the first round before Marquez controlled the rest of the fight. The next two were awarded for Pacquiao, but Marquez and many people that saw the fight felt that Pacquiao should’ve lost the next two.

While he usually spends half of his training camps in the Philippines, Pacquiao decided to train exclusively in Los Angeles to avoid any wasted time. After his last camp was filled with distractions — notably marital issues — Pacquiao should be more focused heading into the fight.

Pacquiao, a volume puncher, vows to end the match with a knockout to avoid the judges’ deciding the fight, while Marquez, a counterpuncher, plans to be aggressive in every round.

It’s a storyline that has annoyed fight fans for the past decade, but you can’t help to think that with how both fighters have been frustrated with the past fights, that this one should end differently.

This fight, however, isn’t free.

Fans shouldn’t pay $60 to watch the pay-per-view in their own homes since Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum could have arranged better opponents for Pacquiao, but it’s still worth a trip to a nearby bar to watch it for a small price.

There’s no college football scheduled for this Saturday, but it doesn’t mean that fans won’t be treated to a fireworks show.

And the best part about this night? Pacquiao-Marquez will likely start after the card is over, UFC president Dana White said.

Put your big boy — or big girl — pants on for a weekend full of knockouts, submissions and some innocent bloodshed.

 

Reach the columnists at jnacion@asu.edu and msterrel@asu.edu