UFC 144 Preview

The UFC continues to expand throughout the world as they have already conquered North America, aside from New York, and Great Britain. A number of fights in Europe and Brazil have also shown that the UFC is willing to go anywhere to showcase the sport. Along the way the UFC has gone to a number of places that are crazy for the sport of MMA including Toronto, which Dana White called the Mecca of MMA, Brazil, the birthplace of modern MMA, and of course Britain, the birthplace of the bar fight. The UFC has been missing out on one key part of the world as they have yet to return to Japan since December 2000. That will all change this weekend as the UFC finally makes its long-awaited return to Asia when they invade the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. They will finally give the Japanese fans what they have been waiting for with a card loaded with Japanese talent and a title fight involving two very talented lightweights. The Lightweight title has been in a sort of limbo for the last few years as one fighter has had the belt but has only fought two challengers in the last three fights. This current Lightweight Champion is Frankie Edgar and in 2010 he beat BJ Penn to claim the title. Then later in 2010 Frankie Edgar made his first title defence against BJ Penn as he fought the same fighter twice in one year. After beating Penn Edgar finally was able to move on and instead face Gray Maynard, the only person to beat Edgar, in 2011 for his second title defence. After a draw in their first fight that saw Edgar keep the belt the UFC created a rematch forcing Edgar to face Maynard again and in fall 2011, a fight that he won. Now Edgar finally gets to prepare for a new fighter after two years of preparing for the same two fighters. Instead of BJ Penn and Gray Maynard Edgar will now prepare for Benson Henderson. Henderson is a former WEC lightweight champion and one of the bigger lightweights in the UFC. Henderson has tasted the championship before in the WEC but is even hungrier to earn a UFC title and will get the chance this weekend. Henderson entered the UFC as a part of the WEC-UFC merger and since then has been on a hot streak winning his three UFC fights all by decision. His last fight was a lesson in going all out as he faced the electric Clay Guida for the #1 contender spot. Henderson won the fight and earned his shot at another title as he will fight close to his roots, his mother moved to the USA from Korea, in Japan. Henderson is a great wrestler with good hands and almost endless stamina. There is no question what Henderson will try to do in this fight as he will be looking for the takedown to use is wrestling and ground and pound against Edgar. The strategy is the latest to try to solve Frankie Edgar who has proven to be a very well-balanced fighter and has been capable of stopping every strategy so far. Edgar is a very well-balanced fighter who has a base in wrestling but has, like many wrestlers, moved to more of a standup game. Edgar has steadily improved in almost every fight and as he gets better he looks even scarier and more like another champion that could clear out a division. Edgar will put this to the test as he looks to continue his reign in the lightweight division by beating Henderson and making his first trip to Japan a successful one. Although Henderson will prove to be a great opponent Edgar looks too good to beat at this point in his career and should win in an exciting Unanimous Decision victory.

Before the lightweight title goes on the line the Japanese crowd will see two of their favorite fighters make their return to Japan. The first to return will be native son Yoshihiro Akiyama who was born in Osaka, Japan and will make his return to Japan for the first time since 2008 when he was a part of Dream. Akiyama will be looking for the support from his home crowd to help him break a three fight losing streak. Since entering the UFC Akiyama has gone 1-3 and has not had the impact that he was expected to have. He will be facing another fighter that was expected to make a bigger impact in the UFC in Jake Shields. Shields came into the UFC as the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and won his first fight when he was brought to the UFC. Since then Shields has lost to Georges St. Pierre, in a title unification bout, and Jake Ellenberger but will be looking to upset the home crowd and break his two fight losing streak. Akiyama won’t be the only fighter returning to Japan as one of the biggest fighters to ever make his mark in Japan will go back for the first time since 2006. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was a superstar in Pride and as a result was a superstar in Japan. A crowd favorite Rampage was and still is one of the biggest names in Japanese MMA. He will be looking to give his fans a great show as he takes on Ryan Bader who will try to put Rampage among his list of victories. Ryan Bader had made his way up the light heavyweight ladder until losses to Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones hurt his climb. On his way back up beating Rampage could provide a much-needed boost into the top of the division where Bader hopes he can get a title shot and a rematch against Jones. As Japan looks on there will be two very big names for them to get behind but there will be even more throughout the card with a number of Japanese fighters on the card. Even though they will have plenty to cheer for expect the cheers to be a little louder for these two fighters as they return to the place where they built their MMA careers.

 

Full Fight Card:

Main Event:

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar vs. Benson “Smooth” Henderson [Lightweight Title] (PPV)

 

Main Card:

Rampage Jackson vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (PPV)

 

Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo (PPV)

 

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields (PPV)

 

Yushin “Thunder” Okami vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (PPV)

 

Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski (PPV)

 

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis vs. Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon (PPV)

 

Undercard:

“The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka (Sportsnet)

 

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee (Sportsnet)

 

Riki Fukuda vs. Steve “Robot” Cantwell (Sportsnet)

 

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso (Sportsnet)

 

Tiequan “The Wolf” Zhang vs. Issei Tamura (Facebook)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 167 other followers

%d bloggers like this: