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At UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson, we saw one of the most technically gifted fighters in the sport of MMA lose his title. Now, many will question that fighter and his decision to fight at his chosen weight class. Obviously, we're talking about Frankie Edgar and his unanimous decision loss to Ben Henderson in a Lightweight Championship fight.
Edgar has always been an undersized fighter, and probably wouldn't have ever fought for the title at that weight class if the UFC had brought in the featherweight and bantamweight clases sooner. Hell, the guy could probably get close to making flyweight (hyperbole, keyboard warriors). But Edgar wanted to fight for the biggest organization, and he got by on his skill, without the benefit of being bigger than any of his UFC opponents. He was always the smaller guy.
And he always won (for the most part). The only blemishes were a loss to Gray Maynard earlier in his career and a draw against Maynard after winning the title. Edgar would later go on to knock Maynard out to retain his title before facing Henderson. Everything has been a matter of Edgar being faster and more-skilled than his opponent.Henderson is a lot bigger than Edgar. That isn't to say that Henderson won because of his size alone, it's just saying that Henderson had the size and strength advantage and that gave him the edge.
Maynard also had the size advantage, but he didn't have enough skill to make up for the fact that Edgar has it oozing out the wazoo, which is typically where that kind of thing oozes from.
So why are folks already talking about a potential drop in weight and a future marquee matchup with Featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo? Aside from the fact that said fight would likely be incredibly competitive and entertaining, it just doesn't make all-that much sense for Edgar's career right now. The guy dethroned B.J. Penn by making him look absolutely silly for no less than eight of the 10 rounds they fought, survived an unholy beating to come back and force a draw with Maynard, and then hand Maynard the very same beating in the third meeting.
And he's not a good fit at lightweight? Then let me ask you - who's going to beat him next? Will Jim Miller get past his next opponent and out-blue-collar him to death? Is Nate Diaz gonna mean mug him until he runs in fear to the featherweight division? What about Clay Guida and the caveman dance? None of these things are going to force Edgar to drop. He owes it to himself, if not anyone else, to get back to the top and another crack at Henderson before considering a drop in weight.
Over the last few years, few fighters have received doubts about their determination and dedication than Quinton Jackson. Only a couple really come to mind, in fact (BJ Penn, Forrest Griffin), and that's definitely not a good sign. Even though "Rampage" has fought for the title recently, he was still being questioned. In the build-up to that fight, he was questioned.
Most of the questioning stopped when Jackson passed up an opportunity to fight on a big UFC on FOX card to fight at UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson. Rampage got his start with PRIDE in Japan, and was a monster back in those days. His counter left hook was absolutely killer and his slams (earning the moniker "Slampage") were brutal. In short, Japan loved Rampage and Rampage loved Japan. When the UFC announced they were making their return, Rampage was the first guy to say he wanted on the card. He could smell blood and glorious, glorious slams aplenty for his opponent, Ryan Bader. Folks stopped questioning him (for the most part) and didn't start again until the day before the fight.
When he weighed-in five pounds overweight.So Rampage forfeited 20 percent of his purse (tragic for him, a guy who has claimed he fights just for money in the recent past) and fought the fight at catchweight. He came in and looked fine, taking time to find his rhythm, which he did find at the end of the first round. By that point, he was clearly down 10-9, though - with Bader looking more slick in the striking game than we've seen.
But in the second round, Jackson came out and looked like he smelled blood. He picked up Bader, who said that Rampage wouldn't be able to slam him, and slammed him down. Hard. It could have won Rampage the round and made it even at 19-19 all, but Bader did eventually secure the takedown and hold Rampage for the remainder of the round.
In round three, Jackson simply looked lost. Bader slammed him, took him down and wrestled him for the entire round, clearly winning it 10-9. Rampage may have got up here or there, but Bader immediately had him down again. He didn't look like he had anything left. The judges granted Bader a unanimous decision, as they should have, and everyone in the building was a little bit more sad.
So where does Jackson go from here? He fought for the title when nobody thought he should have, and just lost to the guy who was steamrolled by Tito Ortiz in 2010. It's really hard to say, given how competitive 205 is. Do you feed Rampage to another guy, and hope that Alexander Gustaffson or Phil Davis make it through him? Or do you put him back down against a guy like Stephen Bonnar? Or do you go with some kind of awaited rematch, like another fight against Griffin or Mauricio Rua?
Probably one of the latter, in hopes that an angry Rampage shows up to send it all off with a bang.
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson was as fitting a return to Japan as the UFC could have had without forcing ever ex-PRIDE star on the card. It would have been nice to see Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua and all of those guys on the card, but there were plenty of guys who fit in that same group and plenty who provided the same fireworks that Japan knows and loves.
One fight that was guaranteed fireworks was Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo. More accurately, the fight was most-likely going to result in fireworks, providing Kongo couldn't take Hunt down and hold him there. He couldn't, and it's unclear if he even tried. Hunt landed that strong left hook and remained cool and calculated until he could land a right and drop Kongo to the ground.
If you were unacquianted with this sport, the pudgy Hunt and formidable tank that is Kongo wouldn't seem an even fight given the eyeball test. What about the test that takes a look at the fighters' skillset? A couple years ago, that fight would have looked like Kongo's, too.
It's unclear if it was the UFC hype machine or just a couple of strong performances, but before Kongo transitioned into a semi-competent wrestler, he was one of the most technically impressive strikers in the division. The guy used such beautiful angles, slipping punches and utilizing brutal knees. The guy could hit you in the face from any angle.
Where did that Kongo go? Maybe he was overhyped and that Kongo was never truly around, but the guy still was expected to deliver more than he has. Crazy knockout comebacks notwithstanding. He's a visually impressive fighter with standup that's rapidly deteriorating and wrestling that's ... unimpressive.
Kongo's biggest asset at this point is being a somewhat recognizable name and a guy who probably holds eyeballs. For the casuals, it's because he looks like he'll maul anybody who comes in the octagon and for the devout fans of MMA, it's because they're hoping to see him knocked out or maybe pull some of that Pat Barry knockout magic.
At UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson, the Bay Area saw two of its top fighters go in opposite directions. Quinton Jackson lost a match he was definitely favored to win against Ryan Bader, while Jake Shields got his UFC career back on track with a unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
In this instance, "opposite directions," isn't much of an extreme, not due to how poorly "Rampage" lost, but more so to how poorly Shields won. Since coming to the UFC, Shields is now 2-2, but most would argue that he should have lost in his split decision victory over Martin Kampmann in his first UFC fight. Some would now argue that he should be 0-4, giving Akiyama the nod.
The problem with Shields' win was the fact that he clearly beat somebody who could have and should have beat him on Saturday. That kind of thing does happen a lot - a fighter will score a flash knockout over a fighter who has the preception of being better - but that's not what happened here.
What happened was Shields looked bad in every aspect of the fight, struggling to look like he's ever spent a day training striking, failing to secure takedowns to work his strong jiu-jitsu game and generally looking very, very sloppy in the octagon. His angles were poor, he kept slipping and he threw some of the silliest kicks you'll ever see.
Unfortunately for Akiyama, he was far too complacent. Akiyama used much better angles, manhandled Shields and stuffed just about all of his takedowns. He landed the better shots and looked like the stronger fighter, but Shields landed far, far more strikes. They were poor strikes that didn't do any damage, but they were strikes none the less.
What do you do when a fighter simply looks like he's better in the octagon, but doesn't actually fight his opponent? You give it to the guy who looks bad, but is at least trying and landing something not entirely unlike a punch or kick. Shields deserved the win on Saturday, even if it was a very poor performance. He's going to need to do better in his next outing, especially because he'll likely be paired up with a winner.
The UFC Lightweight Title changed hands on Saturday night, as Ben Henderson won a thrilling five-round fight against overmatched champion Frankie Edgar in Japan via unanimous decision. The UFC 144 main event was scarcely in the record books before UFC president Dana White dropped the hint as to who might be Henderson's first opponent as champion.
Pettis led off the PPV with an impressive first-round knockout of Joe Lauzon via head kick, in a fight that earned Pettic Knockout of the Night honors and rightly so.
Pettis currently holds an MMA record of 15-2. He is a former WEC lightweight champion, but is 2-1 since making his UFC debut in June of 2011. He lost his debut match against Clay Guida by decision and defeated Jeremy Stephens by split decision before dispatching Lauzon on Saturday night.
UFC 144 in Japan was a spectacular event from top to bottom. The absolutely stacked card lived up to its potential, with thrilling events from top to bottom and nary a clunker in the mix. The night was capped off with the main event between Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Ben Henderson, which was a tooth and nail scramble that went the distance and ended with Henderson emerging as the new champ.
Henderson and Edgar earned the Fight of the Night bonus and picked up $65,000 each for their instant classic.
Anthony Pettis also made two trips to the pay window as he earned Knockout of the Night honors for his first-round head kick that dispatched Joe Lauzon to open up the PPV. Vaughan Lee took home the check for Submission of the Night for his armbar that caused opponent Norifumi Yamamoto to tap at 4:29 of the first round.
UFC's return to Japan was a rousing success, featuring exciting fights from the prelims all the way to the top pf the card. UFC 144 is now in the books, capped off by the main event fight for the Lightweight Championship that pitted champion Frankie Edgar against challenger Ben Henderson in a veritable war.
The two combatants felt one another out in the first round, with plenty of feints and strikes thrown, but few landed. The size disparity between the two fighters with enormous, with Henderson looking like he was at least one weight class above the champion. Edgar repeatedly caught Henderson's kicks, but was unable to capitalize. Edgar did manage to get Henderson to the ground in the first half of the round on a throw and executed a double leg takedown, but Henderson was back up immediately. Henderson settled in by using his size advantage, hitting kicks and strikes from a distance. Edgar's left eye was swelling up quite a bit after the round.
Round 2 was more of the same, with the two men exchanging shots and Edgar repeatedly catching Henderson's kicks. Henderson once again landed many more shots than Edgar, but the champ managed a pair of takedowns. A real turning point came in the final seconds, as Henderson landed a vicious upkick from his back. Henderson's heel caught Edgar square in the nose and Edgar crumpled, but managed to protect until the round ended. Replays showed that Edgar may very well have been knocked out for a moment following the kick.
The third round showed Edgar badly battered, but still proceeded with the same game plan as in the first two rounds. The champion was still taking plenty of shots, but landing a fair number of his own and managing an early takedown. Edgar got another takedown to end the round. Henderson was being taken down easily by Edgar, but was extremely elusive any time Edgar tried to capitalize.
Round 4 followed the same template as the preceding rounds. Henderson caught Edgar with a low kick in the first 90 seconds of the round but the champ recovered quickly. Edgar shot in and slammed Bendo with authority, but Henderson sunk in a very deep guillotine on the way down. Edgar managed to escape and the two men were back up. Standing and banging did not go Edgar's way and the round came to an end.
The fifth and final round saw Edgar needing a KO or submission to win the match and retain his title. He landed a couple of big shots, but they seemed to have no effect on Henderson. Edgar again took Henderson down, but Henderson popped right back up. A flurry of blows capped off yet another exciting round as the bell rang.
Henderson won the fight and the Lightweight Championship via unanimous decision on scores of 49-46, 48-47, 49-46.
Here are the other results from the main card:
Catchweight (211 lb) bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
Bader defeated Jackson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
UFC 144, headlined by a pair of co-main event fights, is well underway in Japan.
The first of the two marquee fights pitted Quinton Jackson against Ryan Bader. Jackson came in well over weight, so the fight was at a catchweight of 211 pounds. Bader entered the fight trying to put himself into the light heavyweight title picture with a win, while "Rampage" Jackson was hoping to pick up a victory in his return to Japan, the country where he first made a name for himself.
The first round featured a lot of stand-up and clinching, with some posturing thrown in by Rampage for good measure. Bader did a lot of circling and moving, while Rampage was moving like a fighter who didn't make weight. Bader was unable to get a double leg takedown and the fighters wound up against the cage once again. In the last 10 seconds, Rampage landed a big left hook but could not capitalize.
Round 2 opened with Bader continually lunging in with jabs, as Rampage would answer by just missing with a monster counterpunch. They ended up clinching against the cage again, where Rampage landed a couple of body shots before lifting Bader and body-slamming him right on top of his head. Rampage followed up with some big knees and a body kick, but Bader managed a takedown and got into half-guard, scooting Rampage against the cage and going for ground-and-pound. Rampage made it to his feet, but Bader got his back and managed a takedown slam of his own. The round ended with Bader on top. The replays of the Rampage slam showed that Bader came precariously close to getting his neck broken.
Round 3 opened with Bader getting another big takedown and controlling Rampage on the ground for the duration of the round to seal the win. He tried for a kimura in the final minute of the fight but settled for retaining control. Right before the bell sounded, Bader tried to hook in a guillotine, but it was unnecessary.
Bader picked up arguably the biggest win of his career to date via unanimous decision on scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Other results of the main card so far:
The main card of UFC 144 in Japan is underway. One Bay Area fighter has managed a big win in a new weight class to make sure his spot in the UFC is secure for the time being.
Jake Shields, fighting out of San Francisco, cut weight to take a welterweight fight against Japanese fighting icon Yoshihiro Akiyama (who was announced to the crowd by just his nickname, "SEXYAMA," in a burst of sheer awesomeness). The first round consisted of an extended feeling-out process. Akiyama demonstrated plenty of takedown defense and executed a pair of authoritative judo throws on Shields in the last minute. Shields landed more strikes in the first round, but Akiyama looked much better on defense.
The second round was much the same, as Akiyama avoided takedowns and landed another fierce judo throw in the final minute. Shields again landed more punches than Akiyama, but they seemed to do little damage. The second round could have gone either way.
The third round was another round of Shields getting stuffed in his takedown attempts. Finally, in the final minute, Shields got Akiyama down and took his back. Akiyama twice in succession grabbed the cage to prevent being taken all the way to the ground, but Shields got him down and went for a rear naked choke. He was unable to sink it in, but the huge takedown and control looked like it might be enough to put him over the top for the win. Sure enough, the judges awarded Shields the victory by unanimous decision, on scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Shields was hoping for a win to get back on the right track in the UFC. He came into the fight following back-to-back losses against Jake Ellenberger and Georges St.-Pierre and a questionable split decision victory over Martin Kampmann. A third loss in a row might have threatened his future with the UFC.
In the match right before Shields', Tim Boetsch pulled off one of the best comeback wins in UFC history, taking an absolute pounding for two rounds before coming back to overwhelm Yushin Okami and win by KO in 0:54 of the third round.
Results on the main card so far:
UFC 144 is underway, with no shortage of action on the undercard as the promotion makes its triumphant return to Japan. A couple of fighters with strong Bay Area fights emerged victorious on the undercard on Saturday night.
Chris Cariaso, who fights out of San Francisco, took on Muay Thai specialist Takeya Mizugaki in the prelims. The bantamweights took it right to each other in the early going, with Cariaso landing some nice combinations. Mizugaki got a takedown midway through the first round. Cariaso managed an armbar attempt from the bottom, but Mizugaki was able to evade it. They closed out the round grappling, with Mizugaki staying on top. Round 2 involved a lot of clinching against the cage before Mizugaki managed another takedown. Cariaso locked on a "100 percent" shoulder bar and neck crank in the final minute and rolled his opponent over, but Mizugaki was quickly out of it and back to his feet. The third round began with more clinching against the cage, with Cariaso looking for a sweep and a single-leg but Mizugaki showing excellent evasion. They went back to the stand-up before ending up on the ground once again, with Cariaso on his back. They stood up once again and Cariaso nailed a solid right hand just before time expired, to no avail. In the end, neither man seemed definitively dominant in the fight. Mizugaki showed excellent defense throughout and was on top for the majority, while Cariaso was continually working for submissions and takedowns, but was usually working from the bottom. In somewhat of a surprise -- and certainly a disappointment for the home crowd --Cariaso picked up the win via unanimous decision, on scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
As soon as that fight wraped up, Steve Cantwell was taking on Riki Fukuda in a middleweight fight. Both fighters have strong local ties, as Cantwell is a California native fighting out of Las Vegas and Fukuda spends a lot of time training at AKA in San Jose. Cantwell entered the night having lost four straight UFC fights dating back to 2009. The first round was mostly stand-up as Cantwell landed a score of great combinations toward the end. In the second round, Cantwell, grabbed a deep guillotine choke right away, but Fukuda struggled hard until he was able to break free. After standing up again, Fukuda unloaded on Cantwell with a multitude of shots. Cantwell weathered the storm and answered back with some big shots of his own before responding in kind. The two men went toe-to-toe, swinging for the fences and tiring. Fukuda made a halfhearted kick that caught Cantwell low and they took a short injury break. When the fight resumed, Cantwell got a quick double-leg takedown and took Fukuda's back, but Fukuda was out of it as the round ended. Round 3 opened with more stand-up. Fukuda briefly took Cantwell down and established side control, but Cantwell made it to his feet again. Fukuda nailed some big body kicks as the final round wound down, with Cantwell looking noticably spent and battered. Fukuda won the easy unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
Here are the complete results from the preliminary card:
Bantamweight bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
Lee defeated Yamamoto via submission (armbar) at 4:29 of round 1.
At UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson, multiple Bay Area and California ties will be on showcase, including Quinton "Rampage" Jackson against Ryan Bader in the co-main event. That being said, there's another tie who was born in California and who currently fights out of San Francisco: Jake Shields, of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Shields, best known for his stint as the Strikeforce middleweight champion, will be taking on Yoshihiro Akiyama on the main card, hoping to get back in the win column after dropping his last two and arguably losing the third prior. Shields came into the UFC with a lot of hype, after submitting Robbie Lawler and winning unanimous decisions over Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Dan Henderson with Strikeforce.
Unfortunately, he hasn't really lived up to any of that hype. The UFC refused to give him an immediate title fight and instead had him fight Martin Kampmann at UFC 121, where he earned a split decision over the Danish kickboxer. Many are of the opinion that Shields didn't win that fight, and just about everyone believed that Shields looks really, really bad for what was expected of him.
So he followed that up with a shot at Georges St-Pierre and the Welterweight Championship. He clearly lost that fight, but did get in an eye poke that threw St-Pierre off for a little while, so there's that. Either way, Shields tried to get back to his winning ways with a fight against Jake Ellenberger in a headline bout, but was knocked out in the very first round. Prior to coming to the UFC, Shields had won 15-straight fights.
Up next, as noted above, is Akiyama at UFC 144, and it's not going to be an easy fight. Akiyama himself has lost three-straight fights, but he's been fighting a murderer's row of late. After losing to Chris Leben by last-second submission, Akiyama seemingly took a step up to fight Michael Bisping, which he lost by decision. Then, for some reason, he moved even further up the rankings to fight Vitor Belfort, a first-round knockout loss.
All of those fights were at middleweight, and Akiyama has now dropped down to welterweight to try and get his career back on track. On paper, Shields should be favored, but given Akiyama's level of competition, this is definitely no gimmie fight. Shields is a very talented fighter on a very talented team, though that team might be without its best fighter shortly if Nick Diaz and ever goes through with his retirement.
This writer is predicting a Shields submission and a return to his pursuit of grappling excellence. Akiyama has been submitted by guys with weaker jiu jitsu games, and Shields knows he has a chance of being cut if he loses.
UFC 144, featuring the promotion's return to Japan, is just a week away. On Saturday, February 25, the card will be headlined by the lightweight title match between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. Also drawing in viewers will be Quinton "Rampage" Jackson returning to action against Ryan Bader, who could really make a name for himself with an impressive win in that fight. The card is stacked with recognizable fighters, including Jake Shields and Joe Lauzon
We're happy to bring you the available odds, courtesy of our friends over at OddsShark. Not every fight has odds at this point, but the matchups featuring most of the name fighters give you a good idea of who the oddsmakers are pegging as the favorites and the underdogs.
Bader is the clear underdog in his fight against Jackson, which is to be expected, although Jackson has lost three of his last seven fights, most recently getting choked out by Jon "Bones" Jones in September. Bader has lost two of his last three, so there is a definite reason for him being the underdog in this one, but I wouldn't write him off so quickly.
Joe Lauzon is also an underdog in his fight against Anthony Pettis, but has a much better chance of pulling off a win than does Bader. Cheick Kongo is pegged as the favorite to win his fight against Mark Hunt, but Hunt's punching power is always dangerous.
Here are the current available odds for the event.
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson on Feb. 26 promises to be one of the best cards of the year, and we're still just in February. It's the UFC's return to Japan and with it comes plenty of guys who are going to fight to their absolute maximum potential for the simple reason that they love fighting in Japan. Outside of the fact that the main event is between two guys who have been in separate fight-of-the-years, you've got a co-main event in which Quinton Jackson is set to face Ryan Bader and a seven-fight main card.
Jackson, who was born in California, loved his time fighting for PRIDE in Japan and specifically asked to be put on this card. With all of the speculation that "Rampage" doesn't put his heart into fighting anymore, this is definitely a welcome development. If fighting at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan can't get him motivated, then it's unlikely that anything can.
You've got guys like Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon opening up your main card, how can it not be awesome? There's fireworks all over the card, and even the certified sexiest fighter alive doing battle with Jake Shields. Let's take a look at the full fight card below:
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson fight card
Frankie Edgar (14-1) vs. Ben Henderson (15-2)
Quinton Jackson (32-9) vs. Ryan Bader (13-2)
Yushin Okami (26-6) vs. Tim Boetsch (14-4)
Mark Hunt (7-7) vs. Cheick Kongo (17-6-2)
Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-4, 2 NC) vs. Jake Shields (26-6-1)
Hatsu Hioki (25-4-2) vs. Bart Palaszewski (36-14)
Anthony Pettis (14-2) vs. Joe Lauzon (21-6)
Takanori Gomi (32-8, 1 NC) vs. Eiji Mitsuoka (18-7-2)
Norifumi Yamamoto (18-5, 1 NC) vs. Vaughan Lee (11-7-1)
Takeya Mizugaki (15-6-2) vs. Chris Cariaso (12-3)
Riki Fukuda (17-5) vs. Steve Cantwell (7-5)
Zhang Tiequan (15-2) vs. Issei Tamura (6-2)
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.
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