Ultimate Fighting Championship's lightweight title will be defended on network television.
USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) confirmed with UFC officials that current lightweight champion Benson Henderson (17-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will face Nate Diaz (16-7, 11-5) at UFC on FOX 5, which takes place 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) serves as the night's co-feature, and a B.J. Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2) vs. Rory MacDonald (13-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) fight also has been rebooked for the card.
A fourth main-card fight is expected to be added to the FOX broadcast in the coming weeks.
Henderson headlined this past weekend's UFC 150 event and scored the first successful defense of his title with a split-decision victory over 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 following a May win over Jim Miller, would get the next crack at the belt.
Rua returns to action following a victory over Brandon Vera earlier this month in UFC on FOX 4's headliner. The Brazilian had an opportunity to earn a title shot against the winner of next month's UFC 151 headliner of champ Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson, but fellow ex-champ Lyoto Machida leapfrogged him with an impressive stoppage of Ryan Bader.
Rua now faces Gustafsson, who's been inactive since an April win over Thiago Silva in his native Sweden. "The Mauler," one of the light-heavyweight division's top prospects, currently boasts a five-fight win streak. A win over a former champ would serve as a signature victory and propel Gustafsson to serious title consideration.
MacDonald and Penn, meanwhile, 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 champ and future UFC Hall of Famer, hasn't fought since a loss this past October to Nick Diaz at UFC 137. The young MacDonald, meanwhile, recently posted a dominant second-round TKO of Che Mills in UFC 145's co-headliner in April, which marked his third consecutive victory.
UFC on FOX 5 is the fourth and final UFC event to air on network TV this year.