26 February 2012
UFC Lightweight Championship Main Event
Benson Henderson (16-2) UD Frankie Edgar (14-2-1)
Scores: 49-46, 48-47, 49-46
Look, there is absolutely no hyperbole in comparing Frankie Edgar with that of the fictional Rocky Balboa. It’s safe to say that no other fighter has the amount of heart that Edgar does. It seems like whenever the going gets tough in a fight Edgar is able to take it up a notch and miraculously pull out a victory. This has led to some classic battles in his short career and Saturday night was no different as he and Benson Henderson waged an absolute entertaining five round war in the main event of UFC 144.
Typically, in a fight like this Edgar is the winner but on Saturday night he ran up against a surging Henderson who looked to be a full weight class higher than Edgar. How Henderson makes the 155 lbs limit is beyond me but his size and strength advantage paid dividends in his fight with Edgar. Edgar fought with the same fluid boxing style that has propelled him to the title but unlike in previous fights, this tactic was not enough to keep Henderson off of him. Henderson simply imposed his will on the much smaller Edgar and no matter what Edgar did he was simply bullied by Henderson. Sure, the fight was extremely close but it was telling that at the end of the fight Edgar looked as if his face was placed in a meat grinder while Henderson lacked a scratch on his face. Still, on this night, against any other fighter, I’m confident that Edgar would have won, however, Henderson was able to walk through Edgar’s fire and that is why he was able to pull off the victory.
UFC Light Heavyweight Co-Main Event
Ryan Bader (15-2) UD “Rampage” Jackson (32-10)
Scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
If you watched any of the pre-fight hype surrounding UFC 144 you would have probably thought that Rampage Jackson and Ryan Bader were the evening’s headline fight. This is due largely to the fact that Rampage may be one of the UFC’s most marketable fighters. When the UFC first announced that they were returning to Japan, Rampage openly campaigned for a spot on the card. Jackson’s love for Japan was born in the early days of his MMA career where he wowed sold out arenas during the heyday of PRIDE. Jackson is still considered a major player in the UFC’s light heavyweight division but the UFC was going to make him work for another title shot by throwing in rising star Ryan Bader.
Controversy surrounded the fight prior to the two fighters even making it into the cage as Jackson would miss the light heavyweight limit of 205 lbs coming in six pounds heavy yesterday at the weigh-ins. As the two fighters squared off in the cage it was clear that Jackson looked soft around the midsection. Bader, on the other hand, looked to be in the best shape of his life. This would become even more evident as Jackson looked lethargic during most of the fight and Bader looked impressive in simply imposing his will on Jackson over the three rounds. Sure, Rampage got some cheers in the second when he dug in deep to slam Bader on his head and while Bader was hurt Jackson was unable to finish the fight. Once Bader got his legs back under him he resumed his dominance throughout the fight taking the contest on all three judges scorecards.
UFC Heavyweight Fight
Mark Hunt (8-7) TKO RD 1 (Strikes) Cheick Kongo (27-7-2)
Time of Stoppage: 2:11
You knew that a Mark Hunt - Cheick Kongo fight wasn’t going to go the distance, but damn, who thought Hunt would win so easily. Kongo was simply out-gunned by Hunt from the opening bell and after softening up Kongo with some hard counter hooks, a right hand wobbled Kongo. Hunt wasted no time in turning on the jets and beat Kongo into submission with a flurry of right hands. Solid, solid win for Hunt.
UFC Welterweight Fight
Jake Shields(27-6-1) UD Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-5, 2 NC)
Scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
Perhaps the most impressive fact in Jake Shields’ success as a fighter is that despite being a one-trick pony he gets the job done. Saturday night, however, Shields diversified his game plan enough to get past Yoshihiro Akiyama. Shields tried in vain to get the fight to the ground by Akiyama’s takedown defense was simply on another plain. Constantly flustered with Akiyama’s defense Shields begrudgingly took to his feet and managed to simply out work Akiyama in the striking department. Akiyama scored with some beautiful judo takedowns but when you are being out-struck two to one by Jake Shields you know you are fighting too tentatively. Ultimately this is what cost Akiyama the fight. Shields just wanted the victory more.
UFC Middleweight Fight
Tim Boetsch (15-4) TKO RD 3 (Strikes) Yushin Okami (27-7)
Time of Stoppage: 0:54 RD 3
Yushin Okami may have fought the best two rounds in his storied career against Boetsch. Unfortunately for Okami his fight was scheduled for three rounds and it was the final round that spelled his undoing. Okami looked like a million bucks in the opening round smacking Boetsch around the cage with some much-improved boxing skills. Okami continued the domination in the second when the fight went to the ground as Okami used his wrestling to keep Boetsch on the defensive throughout the round. However, Boetsch’s spirit was not broken and knowing he needed a knockout or submission to win the fight brought the pain like a man possessed. After rocking Okami with a right hand, Boetsch ended the fight in spectacular fashion with a barrage of uppercuts that left Okami slumped alongside the cage.
UFC Featherweight Fight
Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2) UD Bart Palaszewski (36-15)
Scores: 30-27, 29-28, 29-28
In front of this hometown crowd Hatsu Hioki looked impressive battering and besting Palaszewski in nearly every aspect of MMA. Palaszewski was never going to give up in the fight so Hioki was forced to work hard throughout the fight which is exactly why his victory was so impressive.
UFC Lightweight Fight
Anthony Pettis KO RD1 (Head Kick) Joe Lauzon
Time of the Knockout: 1:21
Wow, wow, wow! Anthony Pettis regained his lost swagger Saturday night as he masterfully knocked title contender Joe Lauzon out with a picture-perfect head kick in the opening round. Pettis came out aggressive and impressively peppered Lauzon with punches and kicks from the opening bell. Moments later the fight would be over as a sneaky left head kick traveled over the the guard of Lauzon and put the Massachusetts fighter out cold.
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