UFC 144 takes place later tonight at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event airs live on pay-per-view at 10pm ET/7pm PT. The pay-per-view broadcast will be preceded by prelim specials on Facebook at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT and FX at 8pm ET/5pm PT.
In the main event, Frankie Edgar puts his UFC lightweight title on the line against Ben Henderson.
In the co-main event, Rampage Jackson returns to Japan to take on Ryan Bader.
Mark Hunt meets Cheick Kongo in a heavyweight bout.
Jake Shields looks to end a two-fight losing streak against Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Yushin Okami faces Tim Boetsch in a middleweight match-up.
Hatsu Hioki takes on Bart Palaszewski in a featherweight bout.
Joe Lauzon and Anthony Pettis meet in a lightweight match-up.
Results, recap and bonuses after the jump.
- Ben Henderson def. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46)
- Ryan Bader def. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Mark Hunt def. Cheick Kongo via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 in Round 1
- Jake Shields def. Yoshihiro Akiyama via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Tim Boetsch def. Yushin Okami via TKO (Punches) at :54 in Round 3
- Hatsu Hioki def. Bart Palaszewski via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon via KO (Kick) at 1:21 in Round 1
- Takanori Gomi def. Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO (Punches) at 2:21 in Round 2
- Vaughan Lee def. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto via Submission (Armbar) at 4:29 in Round 1
- Riki Fukuda def. Steve Cantwell via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Chris Cariaso def. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision (20-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Issei Tamura def. Tiequan Zhang via KO (Punch) at :32 in Round 2
Recap & Thoughts
Issei Tamura vs. Tiequan Zhang: Tamura and Zhang came out swinging hard from the start, and though both dinged each other up, it was Tamura who landed the first stunner that sent his foe to the canvas. From there the Japanese fighter eased into top position, and aside from having to dodge a guillotine, spent his time on top delivering short hammerfist after short hammerfist. Zhang survived to make it to the second round, but it didn’t last long after that, as Tamura and Zhang came out with right hands cocked and Tamura’s found its mark before the Chinese fighter could pull the trigger. The official time of the knockout was :32 of Round 2.
Chris Cariaso vs. Takeya Mizugaki: These two went back and forth a bit on the feet, each neither really hurting the other, until Mizugaki threw Cariaso to the ground midway through the first. But the shift from vertical to horizontal didn’t change the back and forth, as the Japanese fighter attempted to drop fists while Cariaso kept swiveling his hips and going for armbars. Round 2 was almost a carbon copy of the first, although instead of an armbar it was a neck crank that Cariaso went for. They didn’t deviate from the script for the third, however, successful takedowns notwithstanding, all three judges saw Mizugaki losing two out of three rounds – a turn of events that left Cariaso with the unanimous decision.
Steve Cantwell vs. Riki Fukuda: Despite riding a losing streak a mile long, former WEC champ Cantwell refused to wither under Fukuda’s wrestling, ground and pound and standup aggression, and the American made the first round competitive with some crisp Muay Thai technique. The second frame was almost all Fukuda, though, as he turned up the heat with punches and Cantwell seemed to freeze against the cage like a deer caught in the headlights. Cantwell tried to hold his foe off when Round 3 rolled around, but some time spent on the bottom and the resulting struggle to get back to his feet had the former WEC champ spent, and time ran out with Fukuda battering an exhausted Cantwell with boxing. Fukuda took the unanimous decision when the judges’ scorecards were tallied.
Vaughan Lee vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto: Kid was every bit as explosive as he was in his heyday, blasting Lee with the kind of right hooks and flurries that implied an early ending to the bout in the Japanese fighter’s favor. But Lee kept his wits about him, weathered the storm and landed a stunning knee to Yamamoto’s dome, and when Kid took him down, the Brit slapped on a triangle and then an armbar. The tap out came at 4:29 of Round 1.
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka: The veteran Mitsuoka had the perfect answer to Gomi’s power punching: stick his fists in Gomi’s face until eventually he caught him with a short right hook. The former PRIDE champ fell, and after Mitsuoka took his back and slipped on the mounted triangle, it was touch and go whether the “Fireball Kid” was going to survive. He did, though, and he came out for the second round a man on a mission. With an output increased by about six hundred percent, he unloaded on Mitsuoka with a nonstop barrage of knees and punches, and when Mitsuoka went down, Gomi pounded on him with hammerfists until the referee stepped in. The official time of the TKO was 2:21 in Round 2.
Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis: Pettis was prepared for the fire that Lauzon has been known to sometimes bring. Circling away from Lauzon’s rush of punches, Pettis set himself, and fired off a high-kick that tagged his opponent flush against the chin. Lauzon was out when he hit the ground, and the KO was clocked at 1:21 of Round 1.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski: In an absolutely dominant first round, Hioki came out and dropped Palaszewski with a straight jab, then took the American down with a single-leg and worked him over hard with a slew of submission attempts. Palaszewski managed to escape them all, including a particularly harrowing extended armbar, but yeesh, what a beating. “Bartimus” slowed down the Japanese fighter’s momentum by mustering up a modicum of offense in Round 2, peppering Hioki’s legs with kicks and re-establishing himself as a fighter and not a grappling dummy. However, a change in tactics had Hioki throwing Palaszewski down and controlling him, and much of Round 3 saw Hioki punishing the former IFL star from side-control and back-mount. Once more Palaszewski survived, but when time ran out there was no doubt Hioki deserved the unanimous decision he was awarded.
Tim Boetsch vs. Yushin Okami: Employing a keen jab and some smooth-as-hell boxing technique, Okami spent most of Round 1 picking Boetsch apart bit by bit – although it was by no means one-sided given Boetsch’s penchant for moving forward and swinging hard. Things went from bad to worse for the American in the second, with Okami taking him down and utterly smashing him. And then… and then… came Round 3, which saw Boetsch come out like the Hulk and devastate Okami with an endless stream of uppercuts that whittled the Japanese fighter down to a lifeless sack of bones. Referee Leon Roberts jumped in and waved the bout off at :54 of the third round, making for one of the most thrilling comebacks in UFC history.
Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama: In typical Jake Shields fashion, the former Strikeforce champ threw a wealth of virtually harmless kicks and punches to set up takedowns, while Akiyama flexed his judo muscle by avoiding every takedown and put his stamp on Shields with a bunch of spectacular trips and throws and some effective strikes. That was the story of Rounds 1 and 2, and the pervading question mark was just how much the judges were valuing Shields’ point karate game. However, scoring became clearer in the third round, as Akiyama flubbed a throw and Shields took his back. Time expired with the American working hard to apply the rear naked choke, and when the judges’ scorecards were read, it was revealed that they had given Shields all three rounds for the unanimous decision.
Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo: Eight-inch reach disadvantage? Hunt scoffs at such things. Meeting Kongo’s aggressive standup attack with precision punching, Hunt first stumbled Kongo with a counter left, then chased him down with a storm of right hands and sent Kongo to the mat dazed and confused. The TKO came at 2:11 of Round 1.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan Bader: “Rampage” missed weight by six pounds, and regardless of if it was caused by injury or illness, what we got in the cage was a former UFC champ who was slower and more winded than usual. Round 1 had Bader mixing overhand rights with takedown attempts, while Jackson tried to utilize the boxing skills that had served him so well in the past. The second frame had Jackson punching Bader silly and slamming him like they were in a pro wrestling match, but the TUF winner recovered, got the takedown, and controlled from on top. Rampage had zero energy when it came to preventing the takedown in the third, and for about three and a half minutes Bader dropped forearms and elbows until the clock ran out. For his performance, Bader took the unanimous decision.
Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson: Round 1 of this championship bout had Henderson constantly throwing hard kicks and Edgar catching many of them, zipping in and out, and tossing Henderson to the canvas a few times. “Bendo” turned up the heat with his jab in the second, and the champ answered with takedowns – which would’ve likely given Edgar the round until Henderson landed a crushing up-kick that rocked Edgar and turned his nose into a faucet. Of course Edgar recovered enough to take the next round – of course – and just about all of the five minutes of Round 3 had Edgar flying like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Henderson’s kicks and a perilously close guillotine attempt likely gave him the fourth. And lest ye think the judges’ didn’t already have their work cut out for them, the fifth had Edgar dropping Henderson with a punch and Henderson going for another guillotine. The fight was a close on for sure, and the judges gave the unanimous decision to Henderson.
Submission of the Night: Vaughan Lee
Knockout of the Night: Anthony Pettis
Fight of the Night: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson