Rundown of UFC 144 post-fight news and notes…
— Anthony Pettis picked up a $65,000 Knockout of the Night bonus check for starching Joe Lauzon with a nasty head kick. Vaughn Lee earned Submission of the Night honors for finishing Kid Yamamoto with an armbar. And Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson were awarded Fight of the Night honors for their thrilling five-round main event.
— Now that Ben Henderson is the proud owner of the UFC lightweight championship, everyone wants to know who he’ll fight next. There’s two clear options: a rematch with Frankie Edgar or a rematch with Anthony Pettis. Henderson says it doesn’t matter who they put in front of them because he plans to beat them all and one up Anderson Silva’s unprecedented title reign.
“[Fighting Pettis or Edgar], it doesn’t really matter to me. I want to defend [my title] as many times as Anderson Silva defends his, plus one,” said Henderson. “Whoever it is, I’m OK with it. There is a long list of guys: Nate [Diaz], Jim [Miller], Frankie, Anthony. Let’s do every single one of them.”
While you could argue that Edgar deserves an immediate rematch considering he had to give BJ Penn and Gray Maynard immediate rematches, it’s looking like it’s going to be Anthony Pettis. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White said that he “thinks” it will be Pettis, but later backtracked and said he doesn’t like to make those type of decisions immediately after an event.
“I think he’s going to get it,” White said when asked if Pettis had earn a shot at the belt.
“We’ll see what happens,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I hate to do this the night of the fights, and you guys know that, but you always ask me.
“We’ll see what happens. I guess I’ll leave you guys in suspense.”
As you can imagine, Edgar was less than thrilled when he showed up to the press conference and learned of the plans to give Pettis the next shot. He didn’t complain, but it was pretty clear that it irritated him.
“I’m not trying to shoot anybody out of anything they deserve, but I had to do two immediate rematches, so what’s fair?” Edgar asked.
Pettis, of course, was much more thrilled with the news than Edgar was.
“I’m the last guy to beat him so it makes sense for us to have a rematch,” Pettis said. “I’m the last guy to beat him in the WEC, took his belt there, and it looks like I’m bound to do it again.”
I don’t know how Henderson-Pettis 2 could possibly top the first one, but if even if it’s only half as good it’s still going to be a hell of a fight.
— It seems like everybody thinks Frankie Edgar should move down to featherweight. Well, everyone except Frankie Edgar. He was asked about it a hundred times last night in various forms if that was something he would consider and each time his answer was the same.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about now, to be honest with you,” he said in his typically understated style.
Perhaps he’ll consider it after the dust settles, but last night he was understandably focused on the championship fight he just lost. That didn’t stop Dana White from offering his thoughts on the situation though.
“I’ve been asking him to go to 145 for a long time,” White said. “I would love to see him move to 145. I think he’d a force to be reckoned with there, and I think he’ll be a great challenge for Jose Aldo.”
Dana may want him to, but he later clarified that the decision will ultimately be up to Edgar.
“At the end of the day, it’s his decision,” White said. “If you’ll look at what he’s accomplished, for me to come in – like before when I was telling him, he was a world champion and had beat B.J. Penn twice and everybody else in that division. His only loss ever was to Gray Maynard, which he avenged big time.
“It’s going to be up to him, but I’d love to see him do it. A fight between him and Jose Aldo would be fun.”
Edgar doesn’t seem too interested in it, but it would make sense. He said he literally only cuts like one pound to make 155. He’s obviously found ways to overcome the size deficit at lightweight, but he’s always going to be fighting with a handicap so to speak at 155. It would only make sense to cut down where he wouldn’t be smaller than his opponents.
— The only thing epic about Rampage Jackson’s return to Japan was his walkout to the PRIDE music. Everything else was mostly forgettable. He badly missed weight, appeared out of shape and turned in one of the worst performance of his career (sans that epic slam in the second round). It made everyone, including Dana White, question if he really wants to do this anymore, however Rampage assured everyone at the post-fight press conference that he does and a knee injury was to blame for the terrible showing.
“If I’m going to be critically honest, I’m not surprised that I lost the fight,” Jackson told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
“I almost didn’t make it to the fight, but I didn’t want to pull out for the Japanese fans,” Jackson said. “I injured my knee pretty bad, and my doctor told me not to fight. But it wasn’t real serious. I didn’t need surgery or nothing, but he told me it wasn’t a good idea to fight. I decided to fight anyway.”
“I know I’m getting to the end of my career because I said I didn’t want to fight past 35,” Jackson said. “But honestly, before I hurt me knee, you guys should have seen the way that I was training. I’ve got really good sparring partners, and I’ve got this really good wrestler names Tyson Jeffries that kicks my butt, and in this camp, I was kicking his butt. I was taking him down and wrestling got real competitive. That’s how I hurt me knee because he’s one of the best wrestlers I know.
“I was sparring really good, and I was looking like a superstar, then I hurt me knee. That made me think, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got a lot more time to fight.’ When I got hurt, it was just unfortunate, but now, I know what I can do if I come in 100 percent.”
Was it just a fluke? Time will tell.
— On the flip side, Ryan Bader scored what was easily the biggest win of his career. Bader called it his “favorite win” after the fight.
“This is my favorite win of all time. Coming in winning the Ultimate Fighter, it’s really not in the UFC, you start over right when you get into the UFC. That is what I learned real quick. You know I had a couple of losses last year and I’m starting this year off right. Getting a win over Rampage, he’s up there, he just fought for the title, he’s top five in the division so I couldn’t ask for more. He got that good slam, you know , I knew he was waiting for something because he was a little to relaxed right there with his hands and he was just waiting for me to knee the head and he caught me, he’s a strong dude, so he picked me up and slammed me right on my head and I was out of it honestly for a little bit. But, I just recovered and that’s what it’s about, just staying in there and battling and that’s what happened.”
Bader said his arm was fine after he awkwardly landed on it when Rampage slammed him on his head. The only thing that hurt was his head. He conceded that the fall rocked him quite a bit.
— How about Tim Boetsch’s epic third round comeback against Yushin Okami? Dana White wishes more fighters would do that when they’re down two rounds to none in the third.
“Everybody knows how much respect I have for Yushin Okami,” White said. “But I say it all the time. What I tweeted tonight, and what I told Tim backstage, was when a fighter is down two rounds to nothing, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do in the third round.
“I wish more guys would do that. When you’re down like that, what do you have to lose? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain to go out there and go balls to the wall and go after it and try and win, try to finish. That’s exactly what he did, and that’s what everybody should do when their down two rounds in a three-round fight. It was awesome.”
It was pretty awesome.
— Yoshihiro Akiyama has now lost four in a row in the UFC which makes him a prime candidate for release. Dana White said he would be talking to Lorenzo Fertitta and Joe Silva to make a decision on Akiyama’s future with the organization, but said he really likes Akiyama and how he fights, so don’t be too surprised if they keep him.
— Dana White said he has a ton of respect for Mark Hunt for coming in at 37 years old and winning three straight in the UFC. Dana said they offered to pay Hunt to just go away when they inherited his contract from the PRIDE acquisition, but Hunt wanted to fight and earn his money, and for that Dana has nothing but respect for him. What’s crazy is Hunt is actually beginning to emerge as a possible contender. Dana says he’s “in the mix.”
— A lot of people thought Takeya Mizugaki got robbed against Chris Cariaso. Fortunately for Mizugaki, one of those people was the person who signs his checks. Dana White confirmed that he awarded him his win bonus even though he technically lost.