UFC on FOX predictions

Here are our predictions for the main card for tonight’s UFC on FOX (5 p.m., Ch.11).

Mike Swick (15-4) vs Matt Brown (15-11)

(Swick -160 vs. Brown +130)

After a year and a half off because of an illness, Swick made a triumphant return to the Octagon in August with a devastating KO of DaMarques Johnson at Staples Center. Brown enters this welterweight fight with consecutive defeats of Luiz Ramos, Stephen Thompson and Chris Cope. Brown is one tough guy who never disappoints. Swick is quicker, and even though Johnson worked him over well on the ground, we see Swick coming into this one rust-free and full of confidence. Winner: Swick by second-round submission

BJ Penn (16-8-2) vs Rory MacDonald (13-1)

(MacDonald -300 vs. Penn +240)

Two fighters heading in opposite directions. Penn, 34, is one of the sport’s legends but has just one win in his past five fights. He hasn’t fought since getting picked apart more than 13 months ago in a unanimous-decision loss to Nick Diaz. And this fight is at 170 pounds. As for MacDonald, this poses a fair test for the 23-year-old Canadian. He’s riding a three-fight win streak after a unanimous decision over Nate Diaz and TKOs of Mike Pyle and Che Mills. No reason for this one not to go the same way for the bigger, younger fighter. We want this fight to be close, but don’t expect it will be. Winner: MacDonald by second-round TKO

Mauricio Rua (21-6) vs Alexander Gustafsson (14-1)

(Gustafsson -220 vs. Rua +170)

Rua put forth an incredible effort in August at Staples Center with a fourth-round TKO of Brandon Vera. He showed toughness and heart and tagged Vera with some shots and kicks that would’ve felled a colt. However, ‘Shogun’ hasn’t won consecutive fights in three-and-half years. Granted, his fight card is impressive since defeating Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell in 2009 — Lyoto Machida (L), Machida (W), Jon Jones (L), Forrest Griffin (W), Dan Henderson (L) and Vera (W). And now comes the Swedish sensation in Gustaffson, who is loaded with potential. ‘The Mauler’ has won five in a row and could cinch his spot among the light-heavyweight elite with a victory tonight. There’s much to like about Gustaffson, but we’ll go with the veteran. Gotta pick an upset somewhere, right? Winner: Rua by split decision

Benson Henderson (17-2) vs Nate Diaz (16-7)

(Henderson -140 vs. Diaz +110)

There’s a reason why the lightweight champ is nicknamed ‘Smooth.’ A quick, fluid fighter, Henderson makes it look so effortless in the Octagon. He’s lost just once in the past five-and-a-half years (a UD loss to Anthony Pettis in the WEC two years ago) and has won all of his fights in the UFC. He hasn’t finished a fight in almost three years, but he has decision victories over Marc Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida and Frankie Edagr (twice). Diaz has been reborn as a lightweight. The younger brother of Nick Diaz made a name for himself by winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2007. After struggling a bit, Diaz tested the waters at welterweight before moving back to 155 pounds. A first-round armbar victory over Takanori Gomi raised some eyebrows, but it was his dominating, unanimous-decision win over Donald Cerrone last year and dismantling of Miller via second-round guillotine choke in May that caught everyone’s attention. We see this one going to the judges’ cards, with the quicker, stronger Henderson implementing his superior wrestling and staying out of Diaz’s slick submissions off his back. Winner: Henderson by unanimous decision

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