UFC 144 Preview: Quinton Jackson, Jake Shields Anchor Bay Area Ties In Decade-Overdue Return To Japan

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28: UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson weighs in for his fight against UFC fighter Rashad Evans at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson features several Bay Area and California ties but more than that, it's shaping up to be a fantastic card overall, a fitting return to Japan for the organization. Jake Shields and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson anchor the California ties. For more on the event, head on over to Bloody Elbow and MMA Nation.

While we always make sure to cover all aspects related to Bay Area MMA, that doesn't necessarily mean an event has to be hosted in the area for it to warrant coverage. UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson is set to be a huge event for the UFC on Feb. 26, and there are plenty of California and Bay Area ties to consider. But first, we'll take a look at what makes the event exciting without examining said ties.

For one, it's the first UFC event in Japan since UFC 29 back on Dec. 16 of 2000. It's going to be at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, and the main card will feature seven bouts, including a lightweight championship bout between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. The latter is one of the most exciting fighters in the division, while the former just put on two instant classics against Gray Maynard, winning by knockout in the last outing.

There's also Japan mainstays like Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Mark Hunt in action, the former of which is still very relevant and very good and the former of which is debatable in both of those categories but fills up the nostalgia meter significantly. It's also worth noting that Jackson is from California, so there's a tie for you. Jackson will be taking on Ryan Bader in the co-main event and Hunt will try and down Cheick Kongo, who apparently can never be counted out.

Jake Shields, while not the most exciting fighter usually, is in action on the main card in a welterweight fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama. Shields trains in the Bay Area and has for a long time - he represents this region and has done so well in the past. There's other Bay Area ties in Chris Cariaso and Steve Cantwell, who will be fighting Takeya Mizugaki and Riki Fukuda on the FX preliminary card, respectively.

It's shaping up to be a great card, and you can follow along for plenty of previews and long looks in the days leading up to the Feb. 26 event.

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