"UFC on Fox 5 almost sold out before I left [the U.S.]," White said after UFC 153 on Saturday (via MMAJunkie.com. "It's probably sold out now."
In addition to the Lightweight Championship bout between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz, the Dec. 8 card also features a big light heavyweight bout between former division Champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and rising 205 lb. contender Alexander Gustafsson. The stakes for the fight were already considerable for both fighters, but White raised them even further this weekend.
"It'll put one of those guys in the position [for a title shot]," White said, putting the "title eliminator" tag on the matchup.
Thus far, the card has remained intact despite the massive injury bug that has bothered the UFC this year, and White is hoping that can remain the case as the event nears.
"It's staying together so far," he said. "please let this stay together."
Penick's Analysis: The light heavyweight division is in a strange spot at the moment, and I'm not sure what this contention for White means in the grand scheme of things right now. After all, Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida are still hanging around, recovering from injuries and potentially in line themselves. Have they both been put to the back of the line due to their parts in the UFC 151 debacle and, in Machida's case, turning down UFC 152? Will they be put behind the winner of Gustafsson-Rua? Is Jon Jones going to fight someone else entirely in his next bout? There are some scenarios that would sort things out quickly, but the UFC has different ideas in mind for right now. As it stands, the winner of this fight will be in good position to be close to a shot, but whether they actually get it in their next bout after Decemeber is a different story entirely.
[Shogun Rua art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]