USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com confirmed with UFC officials that lightweight champion Benson Henderson
(17-2 mixed martial arts, 5-0 UFC) will face Nate Diaz (14-3-1, 9-3-1) at UFC on Fox 5 on Dec. 8 at a host site to be announced.
A light heavyweight matchup between former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-6, 5-4) and Alexander Gustafsson (14-1, 6-1) is the co-feature, and a B.J. Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2) vs. Rory MacDonald (13-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) lightweight fight also has been rebooked for the card..
A fourth main-card fight is expected to be added in the coming weeks.
Henderson headlined last weekend’s UFC 150 and scored the first successful defense of his title with a split-decision victory against Frankie Edgar, whom he also narrowly defeated in February to win the title.
Despite the close nature of the rematch, UFC President Dana White immediately made it clear that Diaz, who was promised a title shot after a May win against Jim Miller, would get the next crack at the belt.
Rua returns to action after a victory against Brandon Vera this month in UFC on Fox 4’s headliner.
The Brazilian had an opportunity to earn a title shot against the winner of the UFC 151 headliner Sept. 1 between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson, but fellow ex-champion Lyoto Machida leapfrogged him with an impressive stoppage of Ryan Bader.
Rua now faces Gustafsson, who has been inactive since a victory in April against Thiago Silva in his native Sweden.
“The Mauler,” one of the top light heavyweight prospects, has a five-fight winning streak. Beating Rua would be a signature victory and propel Gustafsson to serious title consideration.
MacDonald and Penn initially were slated to co-headline next month’s UFC 152 event in Toronto. However, MacDonald suffered a cut in training that required 38 stitches, and the bout was postponed.
Penn, a former two-division champion and future UFC Hall of Famer, hasn’t fought since a loss in October to Diaz at UFC 137.
MacDonald posted a dominant second-round TKO of Che Mills in UFC 145’s co-headliner in April, his third consecutive victory.
UFC on Fox 5 is the fourth and final UFC event to air on network TV this year.