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Originally published December 7, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Page modified December 8, 2012 at 10:21 AM

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Lineup in Seattle is one of UFC's best

UFC president Dana White praised Saturday's fight card headlined by the Benson Henderson-Nate Diaz lightweight championship bout at KeyArena.

Seattle Times staff reporter

UFC on FOX 5

Benson Henderson of Federal Way will defend his lightweight title against Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5, Saturday night at KeyArena.

Noon: Doors open.

12:35 p.m. First bout.

2 p.m. Start of preliminary bouts televised on FX.

5-7 p.m. Main card, televised on Ch. 13. Highlighted by Henderson vs. Diaz matchup.

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back in Seattle, and it has brought some of its best.

Reigning, former and aspiring champions will all be featured in UFC on FOX 5 on Saturday at sold-out KeyArena. A loaded fight card is headlined by Federal Way's Benson "Smooth" Henderson, who will defend his lightweight (155 pounds) title against Nate Diaz, but also features former champs B.J. Penn and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

It might be the best lineup ever for a mixed martial arts event on network television.

"I have not been this excited for a fight in a long time," UFC president Dana White said at a news conference Thursday. "I really haven't. This is going to be a good one."

Doors open at noon, and the main card starts at 5 p.m. Preliminary fights start at 12:35 p.m.

Henderson, a product of Decatur High School, will provide a local touch to the event — he showed up to Friday's weigh-in wearing a Gary Payton Sonics jersey — as will John Albert, a 135-pound bantamweight from Puyallup, in a preliminary bout.

Spokane's Michael Chiesa, the winner of the 15th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," a reality TV show, was scheduled to fight but had to withdraw this week due to illness.

More than just Henderson's lightweight title will be on the line Saturday.

The winner of the Rua-Alexander Gustafsson light heavyweight (205 pounds) bout would be next in line to face champion Jon "Bones" Jones, White said, barring something unforeseen.

Rory MacDonald is considered one of UFC's top prospects at welterweight (170 pounds), but he'll have to get through a legend in Penn, who is one of two fighters to have claimed UFC titles in two weight classes.

"When we made this card, not only did we love the card," White said, "the fans loved the card, FOX loved the card — everybody loved this card."

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @joshuamayers

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